Obituary: Michael J. Sheehan, Archbishop Emeritus Of Santa Fe, July 9, 1939 – June 3, 2023

Remembered for his life of service and faith.

Most Reverend Michael Jarboe Sheehan, Archbishop Emeritus of Santa Fe, passed away June 3, 2023. Archbishop Emeritus Sheehan, a beloved spiritual leader, was born on July 9, 1939, and dedicated his life to the service of God and his community, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of those around him. He was ordained on July 12, 1964, in Rome, Italy, by Auxiliary Bishop Filippo Pocci for the Diocese of Dallas, was installed as the eleventh Archbishop of Santa Fe on September 21, 1993, and retired June 4, 2015.

Archbishop Sheehan’s peaceful departure brings to an end a remarkable journey that spanned over eight decades, during which he selflessly guided countless individuals on their spiritual path and worked tirelessly to uplift the lives of those in need. Known for his unwavering faith, compassionate nature, and profound wisdom, he leaves a legacy that will continue to inspire future generations.

Throughout his tenure as the Archbishop of Santa Fe, Archbishop Emeritus Sheehan led with unwavering dedication, offering solace, guidance, and hope to his flock. His genuine love for the Church and unwavering commitment to its teachings were evident in his every action as he strove to promote unity, compassion, and understanding among all believers.

Beyond his pastoral responsibilities, Archbishop Emeritus Sheehan was deeply committed to social justice, evangelization, and worked tirelessly to abolish the death penalty in New Mexico. He championed initiatives aimed at eradicating poverty, promoting equality, and ensuring the well-being of the most vulnerable members of society. His unwavering advocacy for human rights and dignity earned him the respect and admiration of people from all walks of life. On June 17, 2003, he was named Apostolic Administrator of Phoenix until December 20, 2003, and was elected the Secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops November 12, 2003 – December 1, 2006.

Archbishop Emeritus Sheehan’s impact reached far beyond the boundaries of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, as he actively engaged with interfaith communities and fostered dialogue and understanding between denominations. His commitment to ecumenism and interfaith collaboration served as a guiding light for promoting peace, harmony, and unity among diverse communities.

The loss of Archbishop Emeritus Michael Jarboe Sheehan will be deeply felt by the Roman Catholic Church, the local community, and countless individuals. His motto, “Love One Another Constantly,” will continue to inspire and guide the faithful to uphold the values he held dear.

As the passing of Archbishop Emeritus Sheehan is mourned, let us remember his life as a testament to the power of faith, love, and service. In the coming days, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe will provide information on funeral arrangements and opportunities for the community to honor and celebrate the life of this remarkable spiritual leader.

Archbishop Wester said, “He was a faithful servant of the Lord who loved this local Church and all its priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful. May Archbishop Sheehan rest in peace, and may his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, brother priests, friends, and all those who were blessed by the grace of Archbishop Emeritus Michael Jarboe Sheehan. May he rest in eternal peace.

Curriculum Vitae

Most Reverend Michael Jarboe Sheehan

Archbishop Emeritus of Santa Fe


July 9, 1939 in Wichita, Kansas


July 12, 1964 in Rome Italy by Auxiliary Bishop Filippo Pocci for the Diocese of Dallas


June 17, 1983 in Lubbock Texas by Archbishop Patrick Fernandez Flores as Principal Consecrator and Co-Consecrators Bishop Leroy Theodore Matthiesen and Bishop Thomas Ambrose Tschoepe

Languages Spoken:   English, Spanish, Italian


1965-1968       Parochial Vicar, Immaculate Conception, Tyler, TX

1971-1976       Assistant General Secretary, NCCB / USCC

1976-1982       Rector, Holy Trinity Seminary, Dallas, TX

1982-1983       Pastor, Immaculate Conception, Grand Prairie, TX

1983-1993       Appointed as First Bishop, Diocese of Lubbock (Installed June 17, 1983)

04-06-1993     Apostolic Administrator, Archdiocese of Santa Fe

08-17-1993     Appointed as Eleventh Archbishop, Archdiocese of Santa Fe

09-21-1993     Installed as Eleventh Archbishop of Santa Fe

06-17-2003     Apostolic Administrator of Phoenix (additional duty until December 20, 2003)

11-12-2003     Elected Secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (additional duty until 12-01-2006)

06-04-2015     Retired


1955-1957       Diploma, St. John’s High School Seminary, San Antonio, TX

1957-1961       Assumption Seminary, San Antonio, TX

1961-1965       MA, Theology, North American College, Rome Italy

1965                STL, Theology, Gregorian University, Rome, Italy

1971                JCD, Canon Law, Lateran University, Rome, Italy

2006                Honorary Doctorate, Notre Dame University

Board of Directors / Committees

The Pontifical College Josephinum

Episcopal Moderator for the National Catholic Young Adult Ministry Association

Board of Governors, North American College

Board of Directors, Holy Trinity Seminary, Dallas

Board of Directors, Mexican American Cultural Center

Board of Directors, Mutual of Omaha

Board of Directors, Catholic Extension Society

Board of Directors, Catholic Relief Services

Board of Trustees, St. Mary’s of the Plains Hospital, Lubbock

Board of Directors, United Way Program

NCCB Administrative Committee

NCCB American Board of Catholic Missions – Chairman

NCCB Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry

NCCB Communications Committee

NCCB Committee on Hispanic Affairs

NCCB Committee on Proselytism

NCCB Evangelization Committee – Chairman

USCCB Committee on Plans and Priorities – Chairman

NCCB V Centenary Committee

NCCB Bishops Committee on the Liturgy

Tri-Conference Committee on Retirement for Religious

Papal Visitation Team for US Seminaries

Texas Catholic Conference Committee for Ecumenical Guidelines – Chairman


Why Be a Catholic, Series of 12 Pamphlets, Our Sunday Visitor

Article in The Jurist Magazine

Article in The New Catholic Encyclopedia

Article in Catholic Evangelization

Pastoral Letters

A New Way of Acting: Catholic Evangelization in the Diocese of Lubbock

An Invitation to Love

Mission Texas

Always Our Children


Infant Baptism

To Honor Our Dead

Seeds of Struggle, Harvest of Faith

From Despair to Hope


Sacrament of Confession

Reverence for the Eucharist

Pastoral Care for Couples Who Are Cohabitating

Year of Faith