A classic high school text which was used to teach for more than four decades the Faith to generations of English speaking Catholics around the world. Unique in presenting the Faith in a clear, persuasive and understandable manner. Since its demise in 1962 after selling nearly 500,000 copies, no other textbook in English has repeated Sheehan's successful presentation of the Faith. The new Baronius edition has been updated by Fr. Peter Joseph, of Wagga Wagga, Australia, and is fully endorsed by Cardinal Archbishop Pell. Size: 6.25 x 9.25
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Michael Sheehan was born 17th December 1870 at Newtown, Waterford City, County Waterford, Ireland. His father, born and bred in Newmarket, County Cork, owned an export business. His mother was an Anglican, the daughter of a Church of Ireland minister. Mr and Mrs Sheehan had ten children, of whom Michael was the sixth. In 1880, the family went to reside in Dungarvan, County Waterford, in a two-storey house in Mitchell Street. Michael was educated privately, then for 1½ years at the Christian Brothers. Next he spent nearly four years at the Augustinian School, Dungarvan; then three semesters (1½ years) at the seminary of St John s College, Waterford. In 1890 he was transferred to the seminary of St Patrick s College, Maynooth, where in addition to the usual philosophy, theology, Latin and Greek, he studied Irish, English, Italian and French. Having brilliantly completed the full course there in 2½ years before he was 23, he was appointed lecturer at St John s College, Waterford, in 1894, and continued to study theology privately, pending canonical age for ordination. He was ordained a priest in 1895, obtained an M.A. from the Royal University of Ireland the same year, and taught liberal arts at St John s for two years. In 1897 he obtained an M.A. in Classics from Oxford University. That year he was appointed to the Chair of Ancient Classics in Maynooth. Later he studied at German universities: one semester at Greifswald, studying Latin, Greek and Sanskrit; and three semesters at Bonn, gaining his Ph.D. in Classics there in 1901 with his thesis, written in Latin (not unusual for the time), on the Athenian orator Isocrates. Dr Sheehan was Commissioner of Intermediate Education for Ireland 1906-1922. He was Professor of Greek at Maynooth College 1905-1922, and its Vice-President 1919-1922. On 22nd February 1922 he was named titular archbishop of Germia when appointed Co-adjutor Archbishop of Sydney, Australia. He was consecrated on 28th May. In August, on his way to Australia, he stopped off at Rome, staying at the Irish College. He had an audience with Pope Pius XI, in which they spoke German. In Sydney, Dr Sheehan lived in an Italianate two-storey home at the corner of Broughton Rd and Meredith St, Homebush. As Co-adjutor Archbishop, he was distinguished for his culture, unfailing piety and gentle kindness. In 1924, he re-launched the quarterly journal, the Australasian Catholic Record, and became a regular contributor to it, while virtually acting as its editor. He retained episcopal office in Sydney until his resignation in 1937 after it had been made clear to him by the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Panico, that because he was Irish he would not succeed Dr Kelly as Archbishop of Sydney. At the announcement of Dr Sheehan s resignation, it was most likely Archbishop Mannix of Melbourne who authored the public letter to him from the Bishops and Archbishops of Australia, saying, The news of your resignation ... filled us all with sorrow and consternation, for we realise that your going is an irreparable loss to the Church in Australia a real tragedy. Retiring to Ireland, Archbishop Sheehan lived in Dublin, at the Holy Ghost Fathers, but he often visited Ring, County Waterford (four miles from Dungarvan), where he once used to spend his holidays among the fishing folk there. It was in Ring that he had first learnt Irish from an aged woman, and in 1906 had co-founded an Irish College, which is still thriving today. Although he had not spoken Irish in his childhood, he became proficient in it and wrote six works in Irish, including studies of the language. Dr Sheehan wrote two other books of religious instruction, A Child s Book of Religion (1934), and A Simple Course of Religion (1937). He had a great interest also in plant-lore and botany and co-authored a book on that subjeReview:
For the author/reviser, Fr Peter Joseph of the Wagga Wagga Diocese, this new book has been a labour of love; for several years he has lived with Archbishop Sheehan's originals and, chapter by chapter, tried where necessary, to present the same treasures of wisdom and grace in language and with illustrations more relevant and accessible to a new readership. This book, it must be admitted, would tax most present-day senior students beyond capacity. (Why this should be so is another problem: in fact it is an amalgam of several problems.) It is possible that it would also in some cases tax prospective senior religion class teachers beyond their present expertise. But there are probably classes in some schools which would be both ready, willing and able to test the waters. There is, however, a wider market and readership beyond schools; there are, for example, those study groups now springing up in many places, particularly in the State capitals. This book in itself, if used systematically, perhaps over a period of two years or more, would give a broad and reliable conspectus of contemporary philosophy and theology and how both of these affect and are the context in which the faith "once delivered to the saints" may need to be expressed today. In the case of home-schooling parents, who are wondering how they can advance the religious knowledge of their teen-age children, again this book would be a goldmine. I am sure too that, if there were sufficient interest in such groups, the author himself or other clergy and teachers of like mind (as the author) would be ready and willing to organise classes. In fact, this book, used in tandem with the Catechism of the Catholic Church would constitute all that the present-day Catholic needs who wants to be able to meet St Peter's challenge (1 Pt 3:15) that he/she be able to explain the hope that is in them. In more detail: the section of Catholic Doctrine runs parallel to and in some instances is fuller than the CCC; that on Apologetics serves admirably to fill in what the CCC does not attempt to do in any detail. Taken together in close parallel attention, these two books would constitute a most enriching course for those interested, whether for the individual private student or for the study group. In the view of the reviewer this book is all the more necessary or, at the very least, highly useful because of the current tendency to move away from the traditional Catholic concept of faith as an intellectual virtue, in the direction of conceiving faith as trust and emotional assurance: there is today much fideism, especially among earnest souls who may not know the word. The tendency over recent years to loosen the philosophical underpinnings of theology and dismiss the value of an intelligent grasp of the preambles of faith or arguments for its credibility accounts (in my view) in large part for the massive abandonment of religious practice among so many Catholic school graduates. In this connection read the very full section in Fr Joseph's book on Faith. --Br. Christian Moe FSC, AD2000 Magazine
Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine, by Archbishop Michael Sheehan, was first published in two volumes in 1918 by M.H. Gill & Son, Dublin. It was a classic high school text in several countries for over forty years, and sold well over 450,000 copies. Now in its 7th edition, this venerable tome has been ably revised by our own Spiritual Director, Rev Fr Peter Joseph. At their best, Apologetics are sophisticated philosophical defences of the claims of their authors. Cardinal Newman s Apologia pro vita sua , though autobiographical in content, is one of the most celebrated modern examples. Sheehan s Apologetics is the classic Apologetics, in English, of the Catholic Church. It is in every sense an outstanding work. The revised edition retains its orthodoxy and conservatism. --Robert Colquhoun, St. Thomas More Society of Australia
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