Shaun McCarty, ST (1929-2007) | Spiritual Directors International

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Shaun McCarty, ST (1929-2007)

Father Shaun McCarty, ST, a member of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity who once served as president of the Diocese of Richmond’s Catholic Forensics League, died Oct. 21, 2007 at Holy Cross Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Burtonsville, Maryland, after a long bout with Parkinson’s disease and a brain tumor. He was 78.

In 1971, Shaun began a 21-year association with the Washington Theological Union, then in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. From 1978 to 1993 he was an associate staff member of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, Bethesda, Maryland, USA. He lectured in various aspects of spirituality, with a specialty in spiritual direction.

Shaun McCarty, ST and Nancy Reeves co-presented at the Spiritual Directors International conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 2003.

Tributes from the Community

My first contact with Shaun McCarty was on a conference call where we were being interviewed for Presence!  He and I had just been asked to co-keynote the Spiritual Directors International Conference in Toronto.  I was quite new to spiritual direction, I had been asked to co-present because of my research in multi-faith spiritual discernment.  Shaun was 'a grand old man' of spiritual direction. I was a younger  lay woman, he was an older member of a religious order. So, I was somewhat apprehensive as we began our interview with Dorothy Whiston.

Well, the telephone call turned into deep spiritual sharing. Shaun and I quickly realized that our  theology was similarly joyful, inclusive, and tender. By the end of the call, we were friends. Shaun has remained, for me, a role model of a spiritual director - warm, sensitive to the movement of Spirit, a great listener honoring many paths. When I think of him, a Francis de Sales quote comes immediately to mind, "Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.

Nancy Reeves

In the 1980s, I was implementing Contemplative Retreats for our Presbytery, and invited Shaun McCarty and Mur Carrington (from Church of the Saviour, D.C.) to co-lead a retreat for us on Spiritual Direction. They made brilliant presentations, but then the group asked for a demonstration of what sp.direction would be. Shaun agreed, and asked for a volunteer. I agreed to be the directee for that experience. I decided to bring a real issue to the session, and Shaun worked with me for about 20-30 minutes. I expected it to feel "phony" or "artificial", but we both got into the process, and it became for me the most effective, one-time session of "direction" that I've ever received.

Shaun went straight to the heart of the matter I presented, and helped me move right through it into insights that had never before occurred to me. I was deeply moved by his obvious caring, gentleness, and profound listening, insight and observations. I've never forgotten. And that session has been for me my model of what sp. direction can and should be, and I often think about him (and his continued friendship since) when I try to teach about and practice spiritual direction myself. He and Tilden Edwards are for me the two who most represent the highest and best that spiritual mentoring offers. I'm eternally grateful to Shaun, who came to Arkansas that time long ago, with my dear friend Mur Carrington, also a fine director.( Strangely, Mur herself also died about the same time as Shaun, friends in life, and forever.) Shaun was what I call a "keeper of the flame" of life for so many. Truly a 'man after God's own heart'.

Ann Williamson Young


Pedro Saavedra's picture
Submitted by Pedro Saavedra (not verified) on

It has been more than a decade since Shaun McCarty passed away. He was my spiritual director and confessor for several years, and I was probably one of his last directees. A former head of the Missionary Servants linked us. His most memorable question came when I wondered if my old age addiction to collegiate baseball games (Shaun’s late brother had played for Maryland) was not interfering with my prayer life. “And why,” he asked, “is baseball not a form of prayer?” I shared that story with his other brother at his wake.

Since Shaun’s death I have stubbornly tried to find a person who can serve both the roles of spiritual director and confessor. I have not been successful in finding one, and, needless to say, I have not been able to find another Shaun McCarty.

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