Kansas chaplain loves the heartland
Despite his Irish roots, Wichita’s Fr. John Sherlock feels at home in Kansas . . .
Fr. John Sherlock
It’s a long way to Tipperary, but Fr. John Sherlock “feels very much at home” in Kansas. After beginning his priesthood with the Legionaries of Christ — serving in Mexico and Spain — he was incardinated in the Wichita diocese in 1981. “The Legionaries had their apostolate, and it was very concrete. But I felt I had to be more among the people, the regular Joes in the parishes,” explains the rector of Wichita’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. In Kansas, his cups of Joe “runneth over” with earthy good sense tipped heavenward.
Tell us about your call to the priesthood.
When I was young, there were certain sentiments that I liked about the priesthood, and certain signs and inspirations that this was how I would serve the Church and the Lord. Coming from Ireland, I had a desire to serve the Church in the missions, particularly in Latin America. When I visited with recruiters from the Legionaries of Christ, I saw a way of getting to help there. I visited their seminary in Dublin for a weekend to see what it was like and never came out.
How did you become acquainted with Legatus?
Bishop Michael Jackels asked me to become his assistant chaplain back in 2008. Then when he was appointed Archbishop of Dubuque, he made me full chaplain last April.
What impact has Legatus had on the Wichita diocese?
The members are really trying to reach a higher level of intimacy with the Lord, to serve the Church, and to be good stewards of their goods. Some are important leaders within their parishes. In a way, our members are simple folk. They’ve got a wisdom from the years, as well as from on high. Being in contact with the Lord and with reality forms a rich spirituality.
How would you like to see the chapter go forward?
I’d like us to continue bringing in a variety of speakers, enriching us from different points of view — spiritual, social, or addressing pressing issues of the day. I think one of the upcoming speakers will talk about how the corporate world can reach out to the world today. I think that’s something we need to do a little bit more, to talk about stewardship.
You have a vocation, of course. Any avocations?
I really love traveling. I visit my family in Ireland twice a year, I’m ashamed to say! To celebrate my 25th ordination, I went around the world in a month: from Wichita to Australia to Asia, India, London, Ireland, then back to the States.
It’s fascinating to see the richness of humanity, and how we can all learn from each other. My ultimate goal is to get to the Holy Land.
Can you recommend any particular devotions?
I love to read the Gospels: What did Christ do, how did he react, how can we imitate him? And then the Marian devotions. I love praying the Memorare. I’ve been somewhat “contaminated” by devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe from my time in Mexico and seeing the devotion of the people.
I also remember once going to Lourdes with my mom. It was three o’clock in the morning, and we both went to the grotto. There I was with my Heavenly Mother and earthly mother, just the three of us. It was a unique experience, a unique blessing.
Do you have any priestly advice for business leaders?
If you can be instrumental in bringing others closer to the Lord, become that bridge. If members of Legatus can be a bridge that can serve as a help to bring Christ to others, I think that’s the best advice I’d give.
MATTHEW A. RAREY is Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant.