Deacon William F. Shire Jr. was a permanent deacon at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Levittown since he was ordained May 31, 2008 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.
“Bill Shire is someone everybody referred to as just a good man,” said Father Michael C. DiIorio, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel. “He always had a present smile. He was a soft-spoken man, very dignified.”
Deacon Shire, 70, the son of the late William Sr. and Rose Shire, died Jan. 5 at Aria Hospital Torresdale. He was born Aug. 26, 1941 in Bristol and was a graduate of Bristol High School and Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J.
Deacon Shire and his wife of 47 years, Margaret, were members of the parish for 42 years. “Before he entered the deacon program Bill and his family were involved in the school and in fundraisers,” Father DiIorio said. Two children, William III and Patricia, attended the parish school.
Among the events that Deacon Shire played a large role in was the annual summer carnival. “It’s the last week in June and the first day in July,” Father DiIorio said. “Bill helped out every year with whatever needed to be done — frying hamburgers, working in the information booth, helping with first aid.”
In church he was an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, editor of the parish bulletin and a member of the Knights of Columbus, Council 14626.
Deacon Shire studied for the diaconate because “he wanted to grow closer to Christ and share that closeness with other people,” Father DiIorio said. “His duties as a deacon included being present with me at Mass for all major liturgies, preaching at times, visiting hospitals during the weekdays and Communion calls. He was an indispensable help to me.” He also assisted the teachers in the parish school with classes.
A special devotion to the Blessed Mother led Deacon Shire to pray the rosary after Mass every day.
Deacon Shire had medical problems over the past year but was recovering slowly, Father DiIorio said. “On New Year’s Eve he was sitting at a table writing a homily on the Blessed Virgin for the next day when he was stricken,” he said. “We’re not sure if it was a heart attack or a stroke.”
Father DiIorio had asked Deacon Shire to write a homily during 40 Hours in September on the place for suffering in the life of a Catholic. “I asked him to write his personal thoughts on how it had helped him grow closer to Christ,” Father DiIorio said. An excerpt from that homily was in the booklet distributed during the funeral Mass.
“Bill was an outstanding father and husband,” the pastor added. “It’s a horrendous loss to us and the Church. He left us a beautiful legacy — how to find a way to heaven.”
Archbishop Charles Chaput celebrated a Jan. 12 funeral Mass for Deacon Shire at St. Michael the Archangel Church. Concelebrating the funeral Mass and serving as homilist was Father DiIorio. Deacon of the Word was Deacon Mark H. Dillon and Deacon of the Eucharist was Deacon Harry J. Simpson.
Deacon Shire, who was retired as regional manager of Conductive Containers Inc., of Minneapolis, Minn., is survived by his wife, Margaret, two children, William Shire III and Patricia Armstrong, three grandchildren, and two sisters, Rosemary Seagraves and Margaret Scenna. Interment was at Our Lady of Grace Cemetery in Penndel.
Jim Gauger is a freelance writer and a member of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish, Glenside.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103