Rev. Howard V. O’Shea, O.F.M., Franciscan priest and Catholic chaplain at Brown University from 1967-1994, died on March 26th in Wyckoff, New Jersey. He was 88. He is survived by the members of his Franciscan community, loving cousins, nieces and nephews, and is remembered by hundreds of friends.
Born William Francis O’Shea in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the second son of Edward and Mary O’Shea, he grew up in Belmont, Massachusetts with his late brothers, Edward and Robert, and attended Phillips Academy Andover before joining the US Army in 1945. He studied Japanese at Yale University in preparation for deployment in the Pacific before the end of World War II. After leaving the army, he graduated with a degree in English from Harvard College in 1949, and worked as a reporter for United Press International, before he found his lifelong calling in the Franciscan Order, where he was ordained a priest in 1958, taking the name Howard Vincent. He taught philosophy and theology at Saint Joseph’s Seminary, Saint Francis College, and Holy Name College, before being named the first full-time Catholic chaplain at Brown, where he served as a source of inspiration, strength, and wisdom for thousands of students for 27 years.
During decades of change in American Catholic life beginning with the transformation of the Church spurred by Vatican II and the turbulent 1960s campus protests, Fr. O’Shea was a beacon of compassion and an energetic advocate of spiritual renewal. A supporter of greater ecumenical understanding, he was known for his passionate activism and broad-minded generosity. He loved working with students and was himself always young at heart. Throughout his ministry, he bore witness to Saint Francis’ commitment to peace and to love for all those seeking God’s mercy.
Fr. O’Shea left Brown in 1994 and served as Chaplain for Foreign Students in the Archdiocese of Aix-en-Provence in France, taking daily bike rides around the countryside. During summers, he provided relief for overworked priests in need of vacation by running parishes in England and Sweden, and he touched each new community with his gentleness and joy. Fr. O’Shea retired from full-time ministry in 2011 and lived at Saint Anthony Shrine in Boston until 2015. Even in his last months, he continued to befriend those around him, and he found strength and peace in his faith.
Visiting hours at Saint Anthony Shrine, First Floor Chapel, 100 Arch Street, Boston, Wednesday 4-7 PM with a Wake Service at 7PM. A Con-celebrated Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in St. Anthony Shrine, Second Floor Chapel, Thursday March 31 at 10:00 AM. Interment Saint Joseph Cemetery, West Roxbury.