Late Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe remembered

[anvplayer video=”5180159″ station=”998122″]

SANTA FE, N.M. – Former Archbishop of Santa Fe Michael Sheehan passed away over the weekend. He was installed as archbishop of Santa Fe in the early 90s.

KOB 4 interviewed Sheehan in 2012 before he retired.

He was ordained in 1964 and served for many years in Texas before he was installed as archbishop of Santa Fe in 1993. 

He arrived as the archdiocese was engulfed in scandal. Allegations of priests molesting New Mexican children had arisen. 

Sheehan told us he took action.

“When I came in I immediately put in a zero-tolerance regulation and I removed priests, some of them popular,” said Sheehan. “I put into place those things years and years before they were officially part of the Catholic Church in the U.S.” 

Sheehan was also dedicated to social justice. The archdiocese noted he supported initiatives aimed at eradicating poverty and promoting equality. 

He was also a major player in the effort to abolish the death penalty in New Mexico. That became a reality in 2009 after then Gov. Bill Richardson signed the ban on the death penalty into law.

Richardson and Sheehan were part of a delegation that traveled to Rome. There they met with Pope Benedict XVI, and attended a special lighting ceremony at the Colosseum in Rome to mark the occasion.   

Sheehan was not known for ruffling feathers within the church, but it did happen from time to time. 

When asked in 2015 if he had any regrets about his time as archbishop, Sheehan said:  

“Well, I keep going. My thing is to be happily and uncomplicatedly Catholic.”

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Sheehan would be remembered for his leadership in the state. 

“His service to New Mexico did not waver as he continued his outreach to communities using his motto of ‘Love One Another Constantly’ as a foundation for his work,” wrote Lujan Grisham. 

Senator Ben Ray Luján also paid respects to Sheehan.

“Archbishop Emeritus Sheehan spent much of his life devoted to the Catholic faith and his work went beyond the confines of the church. He spent decades working to better the lives of New Mexicans. His leadership, and his voice, will be sorely missed across New Mexico,” Luján stated.

In 2018, Sheehan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He was 83 when he died Saturday.

A schedule of planned services can be found below.

Wednesday, June 7
12:10 p.m.
Mass for the Dead
Immaculate Conception Parish
619 Copper Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102
Streaming on YouTube and Facebook

Thursday, June 8
3 p.m. Rite of Reception: Receiving the Body
Public visitation to begin after Rite of Reception until 7 p.m.
7 p.m. All-night Vigil Service (Streaming online and on Facebook)
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi
131 Cathedral Pl, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Friday, June 9
11 a.m. Public Visitation Concludes
11:30 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi (Streaming online and on Facebook)
131 Cathedral Pl, Santa Fe, NM 87501