Longtime Missionary in the Philippines Made His Home Where His Heart Was

Text and Photo Credit: Fr. Adam MacDonald, SVD

Text and Photo Credit: Fr. Adam MacDonald, SVD


Rev. John P. McSherry, SVD, 80, a missionary in the Philippines for more than four decades, died January 18, 2014, at St. Francis Hospital, Trenton, N.J., in Compassionate Care (Hospice).

“The heart of a missionary was at the core of John’s being,” said Brother Patrick Hogan, SVD, rector of the Divine Word Residence in Bordentown, N.J. “He moved to Bordentown four years ago so that he could remain active during retirement. John regularly celebrated Mass for the Poor Clare Sisters in Chesterfield, N.J., who live nearby, and he was a vibrant member of our community.”

After a total of 46 years in the Philippines, Father McSherry returned to the United States in 2009 and spent a few months at the provincial headquarters at Techny, Illinois, discerning his next step before moving to Bordentown.

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1933, John Patrick McSherry was the second of Florence (nee Moore) and Patrick McSherry’s three children. His elder brother Kevin died at age two, shortly before John Patrick’s birth. Their mother, born in New Brunswick, was the daughter of a Canadian soldier; their father emigrated from Northern Ireland. The young McSherry considered himself an “immigrant kid.”

In an interview, he once spoke about being named after his grandfather and godfather. “I appreciate that because I already have my name on the gravestone,” he said. “It’s a root. It’s a support. You grab onto something because growing up as an immigrant kid you kind of lose your roots. You spend a lot of time looking for your roots.”

If he was looking for roots as a young priest, he found them in Occidental Mindoro in the Philippines. “It’s a rugged place,” said Father McSherry, who cherished swimming daily and riding his motorcycle in the open air. “These people do not welcome entrance into the modern world. They want to keep their customs and not be spoiled by modernization. They are a beautiful people.”

The young McSherry professed religious vows in 1953 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1961. For his first assignment, he worked in the Mission Office, raising funds for missionaries in other parts of the world. He then was assigned to the Philippines. He served as a parish priest and in high education. From 1991 until his return to the United States, he was a teacher, administrative and campus minister at University of San Carlos in Cebu City, Philippines.

In addition to degrees in philosophy and theology, Father McSherry held a master’s degree in education from Catholic University of America and a master’s degree in literature from the University of San Carlos-Cebu City.

In addition to his brother Kevin, his younger sister Mary preceded him in death. He is survived by his fellow Divine Word Missionaries.

The visitation for Father McSherry will be held Tuesday, January 21 from 6:00 p.m. -8:00 p.m. with a vigil service at 7:30 p.m. at Divine Word Residence. The Mass of the Resurrection will take place at 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, January 22 at Divine Word Chapel, Bordentown, N.J. He will be buried at St. Mary Cemetery, Bordentown, N.J.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations for the care of retired missionaries may be sent to Divine Word Missionaries, 101 Park St., P.O. Box 357, Bordentown, NJ 08505.


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