With his brother Jesuits on hand to offer congratulations, Fr. Joseph Shirey, SJ, celebrated his 100th birthday on July 1 in a celebration at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, Calif., where he now resides.
Born in Fostoria, Ohio on July 3, 1916, Fr. Shirey recently moved to Los Gatos with several other Oregon Province Jesuits. The two provinces are coming together to form one province, Jesuits West, in July, 2017. Fr. Shirey was honored at a lunch with Jesuits and lay staff, complete with a band playing swing music. At 100, Fr. Shirey is the oldest living Oregon Province Jesuit.
Fr. Shirey has spent much of his time as a Jesuit in parish ministry, but also served at Providence Medical Center in Medford, Ore., providing comfort and counsel to patients and their families. It was here that he acquired the nickname, “Fr. Red Socks,” as he decided he wanted to be seen in the hospital in a color other than all black.
Noted for his humor and charismatic persona, Fr. Shirey, has had a varied and interesting life, including work as a band member before he entered the U.S. Army in 1939, just short of finishing his degree at the University of Oregon. It was after his Army duty that he became a priest. He joined the Society of Jesus at age 30 in 1946.