Solemn Requiem for Late Monsignor Sharkey
Tumut P.P. 55 Years A Priest
Impressive Record in Extension of Church
7 January 1954 Catholic Weekly (Sydney)
Solemn Requiem Mass for the repose of the soul of the Right Rev. Monsignor J. Sharkey, P.P., V.F., who died recently in Lewisham Hospital, was celebrated in his parish Church of the Immaculate Conception at Tumut.
Monsignor Sharkey had been associated with the parish of Tumut, in the Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn, for a total of 41 years, being parish priest there since 1916.
He was a Vicar Forane and a Diocesan Consul- tor in the Archdiocese.
Prior to the funeral to Tumut Cemetery, His Lordship Bishop Young presided at the Mass and preached the panegyric and afterwards pronounced the final absolution.
Celebrant of the Mass was the Rev. Father James Blakeney (Cobargo), deacon, Rev. Father Brendan McDonagh (Tumut), sub-deacon, Rev. Father John O'Brien (Queanbeyan), and master of ceremonies, Rev. Father O'Connor.
The casket was surmounted with the late Monsignor's biretta and the gold chalice presented to him by his parishioners on the occasion of his golden jubilee.
Clergy present in the sanctuary included the Right Rev. Monsignor W. Cahill (Binalong) and the Very Rev. Dean A. Deegan, P.P., V.F. (Young).
In the course of his address His Lordship said:
'John Sharkey, blessed by Almighty God in having a simple, clear acceptance of the teachings of Christ, accepted the Catechism, the Scripture and the Sacrifice of the Mass, and his mind was satisfied.
'For 55 years he acted as a priest of God and was constantly, unfailingly true to the demands of the priesthood.
To exercise these priestly demands for 55 years, never to deviate, to be constant in his duties, is no mean achievement.
'He was truly faithful, and I think that is what Our Divine Lord had in mind when he said that he would say to the faithful at the end.
'Come, my faithful servant!'
'I thank God for the work John Sharkey has been instrumental in doing for the people of this Archdiocese and parish.
The people of Tumut were his people in a very special way. I ask God to have mercy on his soul. I thank all those people who have during these last years been faithful to him. I thank the priests who have worked in this parish with him.
'And finally, my dear people, I would say that the test of a good priesthood has been passed by John Sharkey with great credit, because the reflection of the virtue of his priesthood is on the people. You are a faithful people - your faith is simple, your faith is strong. For 41 years he has fostered your spiritual life, helped you in your sorrows and corrected you when you were about to take a wrong path. I take you as the result of the work of this man, and he must have been a good and worthy man because you are a good and worthy people. May you pass on to your sons and daughters the faith you have, even though he is no longer amongst you.'
The large congregation of parishioners and visitors at the Requiem Mass and graveside was a tribute to Monsignor Sharkey's popularity.
After the Mass Children of Mary formed a guard of honor to the hearse and men of the parish formed another along Capper street.
His Lordship again officiated at the graveside, where the many priests in attendance chanted the 'Ero Sum.'
Also present at the grave side were the Rev. W. J.Conran (Church of England), the Rev. G. Kerry (Presby- terian) and Mr. A. N. Fuller, M.H.R.
Born in Ireland Monsignor Sharkey was born in Castlederg, County Derry, Ireland, in 1872.
He was educated in the National School of Ireland and St. Columbus' College, Derry, and finally was prepared for the priesthood at All Hallows, Dublin.
On arrival in Australia at the age of 25 in 1897 he was still a deacon.
In 1898 he was ordained to the priesthood by the late Bishop Gallagher in Goulburn.
He was first appointed to the parish of Junee and after working there for 12 months, was transferred to Young, and then to Tumut in 1901.
He stayed until 1905 when he was transferred to Gundagai for a short period; then he went to West Wyalong, Binalong and Gunning.
From Gunning he was transferred during the First World War in March, 1916, to Tumut as parish priest.
He was elevated to the position of Dean and Diocesan Consultor in 1932 and in 1946 was made a Domestic Prelate.
Among his administrative achievements were building the presbytery at Binalong, the church at Bookham, schools at Gunning and Adelong, Batlow convent, extensions and bell tower to Tumut church and installation as his own gift of the bell there that can be heard for 15 miles, building St. Brigid's School and remodelling the Sacred Heart School (the original Catholic church at Tumut).
Monsignor Sharkey was always a ready helper of the Australian priesthood and established a movement in his parish for founding a permanent bursary at St. Patrick's College, Manly, for the education of boys from the parish to the priesthood. — R.I.P.