Brother John Shaughnessy, C.F.X.
Brother John Shaughnessy entered eternal life Friday evening, February 12, 2021 from complications of pneumonia and sepsis after a recent surgery. He died in the Rehab Center at Nazareth Home in Louisville, KY.
“This is in all living things
A hidden wholeness.”
– Thomas Merton
John was an extremely private and independent person. As a result, uncovering his ‘hidden wholeness’ is challenging. At the same time, we know John’s ‘hidden wholeness’ has touched many lives. Simply put, we have to go beyond his spoken or written words and interactions with us in order to discover and celebrate his wholeness and spirit.
Throughout people’s lives certain qualities, talents and behaviors stand out as their particular signatures. John has a very unique signature. Foremost he was a life-long learner. An energetic learner. His intellectual curiosity impelled him to pursue a very full professional life. John’s energy and curiosity inspired his mission in life. He wanted to make a difference. And he did. He contributed greatly to the learning and growth of many students through his work as an educator. John’s mission would eventually focus his talents on helping the poor and immigrants. There were other aspects to John’s wholeness. He was easy to be with, always engaging and an eager conversationalist no matter the topic. He always enjoyed a good time with his fellow Xaverians, his family and with his many friends. His family was most important to him as evident in his love and loyalty towards them. His descriptions of how he enjoyed playing cards with them are vividly filled with warmth and fun. John would sign the various chapters of his life with the above signatures.
John was born on July 9, 1944. He is the son of Celia (Parks) and J. Gerard Shaughnessy. Both parents are deceased. John is survived by his sisters Ann and Katie and his brother, David. His sister Celia pre-deceased him. He grew up in Jamaica Plain, MA.
John was attracted to the Xaverian vocation during his time as a student at Mission High School in Roxbury. John entered Saint Joseph Novitiate in Newton Highlands, MA on July 8, 1962. On July 9, he turned 18. He received the Xaverian habit and religious name ‘Gerard’ on September 8, 1962. Upon completion of the novitiate, John spent four years at Xaverian College in Silver Springs, MD. He earned his BA in French Literature in 1968 from the Catholic University of America. His first mission was St. Joseph Regional High School, Montvale, NJ. During this time, he earned a Certificat d’Études from the University of Maine and his MAT in French from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in 1970.
John’s commitment to education is clear. In 1973 he accepted the position of Assistant Principal at St. Plus X Regional High School in Piscataway, NJ. While at St. Plus X, he earned his Doctorate in Administration and Supervision from Rutgers University in 1979. His time at St. Pius X was special. John often talked fondly of the community of four Xaverians, the 12 Sisters of Mercy, three diocesan priests and many lay colleagues who made up the community, as well as the Italian neighbors who would invite the Brothers to Sunday dinner.
From 1988 until he retired 2002, John taught in the Education Department at Spalding University in Louisville, KY. By 1998, he had earned the position of full Professor responsible for coordinating all Graduate Programs as well as the Supervision of the doctoral students as they prepared their dissertations. During his tenure at Spalding, John’s energy and curiosity would provide his students with the latest in educational theory and best practices. At Spalding John became good friends of his new colleagues: Sisters Mary Burn, Frances Loretta, Angie Shaughnessy and Maureen Coughlin.
After retiring from Spalding, John received permission to minister in Mexico where he spent about 11 years teaching English to poor people who needed the language to secure employment in tourist hotels. Upon returning to the States, John would continue his commitment to the poor by joining the Sisters of Charity’s ministry outreach to Hispanic immigrants where he taught English as a second language and helped counsel individuals.
Once back in Louisville, John also sought a closer relationship with the Congregation. He would visit the community at Ryken House regularly. John and Cornelius would enjoy a monthly visit for fraternal support. In his book, Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen says that:
To give someone a blessing is the most significant affirmation we can offer.
It is more than a word of praise or appreciation; it is more than pointing out someone’s talents or good deeds; it is more than putting someone in the light.
To give a blessing is to affirm, to say ‘yes’ to person’s Belovedness.(69)
As we prepare to lay John to rest, we join in blessing his life recalling the words of our Fundamental Principles that remind each of us that we are a unique expression of God’s love meant to be shared as God’s healing touch of love to all whom we meet in life. We bless John for having shared God’s love through his journey as a Xaverian Brother. May he enjoy Christ’s peace.
Brother Edward Driscoll, CFX