Phone: 216-696-6525

Toll Free: 1-800-869-6525

Address: 1404 East 9th Street, Cleveland, OH 44114

Why Catholic? Meet Bishop Edward C. Malesic

  Share this Page

Back to news list

Bishop Gilbert Sheldon, former Cleveland auxiliary and former Steubenville shepherd, dies at 96

In Remembrance

April 26, 2023

Bishop Gilbert Sheldon, former Cleveland auxiliary and former Steubenville shepherd, dies at 96

The funeral for retired Bishop Gilbert Sheldon will begin with visitation 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. May 1 in Holy Rosary Church (Triumph of the Cross at Holy Rosary), 280 Rosemont Ave., Steubenville, Ohio. The vigil service will be at 7.

His funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. May 2 in Holy Rosary Church, with burial following the Mass.

Bishop Sheldon, who served 10 years as the third bishop of the Diocese of Steubenville (1992-2002) and 16 years as an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland (1976-1992), died April 24 at age 96.

He was born Sept. 20, 1926 on Cleveland’s Southeast Side, the third of the 12 children of the late Ignatius Sheldon (originally Solinski) and Stephanie (Olszewski) Sheldon. Bishop Sheldon was the nephew of the late Father John Solinski, a former pastor of St. Adalbert Parish in Berea.

He was educated at St. Philip Neri School in Cleveland and was a 1944 graduate of Cathedral Latin High School, also in Cleveland.

Bishop Sheldon qualified as an aviation cadet in the U.S. Army Air Force after his high school graduation. He was stationed at Sheppard Field and Amarillo Army Air Base, both in Texas, and was the youngest priest in the Cleveland Diocese to have served in the military during World War II.

In 1945, he was among the first veterans to take advantage of the G.I Bill of Rights when he enrolled at John Carroll University. He studied there until September 1947, when he enrolled at Saint Mary Seminary in Cleveland to begin his formation for the priesthood.

Bishop Sheldon was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Edward Hoban on Feb. 28, 1953 for service to the Diocese of Cleveland. For the next 11 years, he served as assistant pastor of St. Rose Parish in Cleveland (1953-1958), St. Clare Parish in Lyndhurst (1958-1963) and SS. Philip and James Parish in Cleveland. During the 1960s, he frequently was heard on the Sunday evening program, “What Catholics Believe,” on KYW radio in Cleveland.

In 1961, he was appointed a notary of the diocesan tribunal.

Archbishop Hoban appointed the future bishop as diocesan director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in February 1964, a position he retained for a decade. As diocesan director, he administered a variety of mission-oriented programs in addition to that of the Papal Volunteers for Latin America and Extension Lay Volunteers and the St. Francis Xavier Mission Association.

Bishop Sheldon also assisted in the inauguration and administration of the first Cleveland diocesan mission in El Salvador, Central America, established in 1964. He also filmed, wrote and produced a sound film of the work of the mission, “Vayamos Jubilosos” (“We Go Joyfully”).

In 1966, Bishop Sheldon was appointed to the national board of directors of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith by Bishop Edward O’Meara, who succeeded Bishop (later Archbishop) Fulton Sheen as national director. During his years in the mission office, he visited mission stations in about 20 countries in Latin America, Africa and the Orient.

During his time at the SPF, Bishop Sheldon was the resident chaplain at Magnificat High School in Rocky River. He also was a theology instructor at St. John College in Cleveland in 1963 and 1966, and served as chaplain of the West Park Council, Knights of Columbus, and Serra Club West.

In 1971, he was appointed a prosynodal judge of the diocesan tribunal, charged with determining the validity or invalidity of marriages according to Catholic theology and canon law.

He took advantage of the opportunities offered by Saint Mary Seminary for continuing priestly education and in 1970, earned an M. Div. degree. Bishop Sheldon also participated in a pilot program under the Ohio Consortium of Seminaries – of which Saint Mary Seminary was a member theological school – that led to him earning a D. Min. degree in 1974.

In July 1974, he was appointed by Bishop (later Cardinal) James Hickey as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Oberlin and as episcopal vicar for Lorain County. He was the first episcopal vicar to be appointed in the Cleveland Diocese. That same year, he was also appointed a diocesan consultor.

The bishop was well known to the people of St. Brendan Parish in North Olmsted where he assisted on weekends for many years. He also assisted briefly at St. Ladislas Parish in Westlake soon after its 1973 establishment and he moderated a Catholic Family Movement group with priests at St. Bernadette Parish in Westlake.

He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Cleveland and titular bishop of Taparura on April 20, 1976 by Pope Paul VI and he was ordained to the episcopate on June 11, 1976 by Bishop Hickey, with Archbishop (later Cardinal) Joseph Bernardin and Bishop Clarence Issenmann serving as co-consecrators. Bishop Sheldon served as vicar of the southern region of the diocese – Summit, Ashland, Wayne and Medina counties – from Aug. 24, 1979 to April 1992.

He was appointed the third bishop of Steubenville – the newest (established in 1944) and most sparsely populated of the six Ohio dioceses -- on Jan. 28, 1992 by Pope John Paul II and was installed on April 2, 1992. During that time, he served on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committees for Latin America, Administration, National Advisory Council, Missions and Nominations, as well as serving as a board member of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.

Bishop Sheldon submitted his letter of resignation to Pope John Paul II when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 in 2002. The pope accepted his resignation on May 31, 2002.

He is survived by two sisters, Susan (Hans) Gossler of Munster, Indiana, and Nancy Sheldon of Rocky River. The bishop was predeceased by his parents and nine siblings Robert, Richard, Mary Jane Yahraus, William, Betty Campbell, Edward, John, James and Rose Mary.

Subscribe! Sign up to receive news & updates.

Share This


Photo Gallery

1 of 22