Father Louis Shea, recently of Jackson, Wyo., has begun his charge of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Lovell as of July 6. He serves the church in Greybull, as well.
Father Shea grew up in Kansas City. After high school graduation he attended North Carolina State University in Raleigh, earning a bachelor of arts in speech communication. He worked in theater for 20 years as a freelance stage technician working with lights and sound. Rock and roll, symphonic pop and Broadway musicals were just a few of the genres he experienced. He also worked as technical director in the Raleigh/Durham area.
A family situation actually brought Father Shea into the ministry. After his mother died, his own father entered seminary at the age of 65 and was ordained at 68. He pastored the Catholic Church in Lusk for 19 years. In 2003 Shea moved to Lusk as an assistant to help with the church work. He worked with his father for four years. In 2007 his father fell and needed constant care.
Realizing his call to serve, in August 2008 Shea entered Sacred Heart School of Theology at Hales Corners, Wis., near Milwaukee. He was ordained deacon during his final year of school and graduated with a master of divinity in May of 2012 when he was ordained priest.
Father Shea served the Sheridan church as assistant for two years before moving on to Jackson for two more years.
He described the focus of his ministry by saying, “In Wyoming, smaller churches, you have to focus on everything, but, of course, you’re going to be who you are. You’re going to focus. The focus is the life of the parish, to recognize the gifts of others in the parish. To be a good leader I need to discover how I can help others to lead.
“It all boils down to love God, love your neighbor. You won’t break any of the Catholic doctrine, the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes – anything that Jesus taught. If you can do that you will be following the teachings of the church,” he said.
Father Shea voiced his desire for St. Joseph’s Church, “to be open to the community, to be a shining example to the community, to see everyone grow and mature, adults, as well as children. Confirmation is a sign that you are ready to practice your faith as an adult,” he explained.
Outside the church, Father Shea enjoys hiking. Last week he and his two dachshund buddies hiked to the Medicine Wheel and on over to Bucking Mule Falls, a trek of about 19 miles.
When asked how he feels about being in Lovell he responded without hesitation, “I’m happy to be in Big Horn County – happy to be a 9er.”
By Teressa Ennis