Article by Marc Aupiais
From: Fr Chris Townsend
Subject: Fr Lionel Sham: Obituary
Lionel John Sham was born 23 May 1943 of Keralla (Kay) and Janie (nee Boles) in Johannesburg. He has 2 Brothers (Peter and Reggie) and 1 sister (Vicky)
In 1959, at the age of 15, Lionel went to Sacred Heart Minor Seminary in Boksburg to discern his vocation to the Diocesan Priesthood. He spent 2 years there and completed his Matric at Christian Brothers College in Boksburg.
In 1961 he commenced his studies at St John Vianney seminary in Pretoria. He was ordained priest on 9 September 1967 at Holy Angels Catholic Church in Bez Valley by Bishop Hugh Boyle.
His first appointment was to the Cathedral of Christ the King where he worked from 1968 to 1971. He started studies through UNISA and completed an Honours Degree in Social Science in 1973.
In 1972, he joined Fr (Later Bishop) Reginald Orsmond at Boys Town in Magaliesburg and served the parish of St James and Hekpoort. He remained in Magaliesburg until 1986. He was Dean of the West Rand Deanery, a position he would fill again from 2006 to 2008.
Fr Lionel was appointed Bishop’s Vicar for Vocations in 1986 and moved to the Cathedral of Christ the King. In this role, he was responsible for accompanying many young men in their discernment of the call to Priesthood. He remained Vicar until 1999.
He was appointed Bishop’s Vicar for Youth in 1987 where touched the lives of many youth.
He was appointed Bishop’s Vicar for Funding and development from 1988 to 1999.
From 1992 to 1993 he was Priest-in-charge of Our Lady of Loreto Catholic Church in Kempton Park.
In 1994, he was appointed as Administrator of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Johannesburg, a position he held until 1999.
He was second Vicar General for Bishop Orsmond from 1995 to 2000.
In 2000, Fr Lionel Sham was appointed as Rector of the Orientation Seminary in Welkom. The Seminary moved under Fr Lionel’s direction to Oakford in KZN. Fr Lionel remained Rector until the end of 2005. During this time, he was responsible for many young men beginning their studies for the Catholic Priesthood in Southern Africa. He also looked after his mother until her death in January 2006.
In 2006, Fr Lionel returned to the Diocese of Johannesburg and was asked to look after four parishes on the West Rand in Johannesburg – St Paul of the Cross – Bekkersdal, Our Lady of Africa, Mohlakeng, St Martin de Porres – Toekomsrus and Immaculate Conception in Westonaria. He remained Parish Priest of Our Lady of Africa when he was murdered.
Fr Lionel had also served on the Southern African Council of Priests, the South African Council for Catholic Social Services, the World Lebanese Cultural Union and the Knights of Da Gama. Fr Sham was also responsible for the fundraising and development of the Sacred Heart pastoral Centre in Walkerville. Fr Lionel was Bishop’s Vicar for SPRED and Catechetics at his death.
Fr Chris Townsend – Johannesburg – 11 March 2009
Fr Chris Townsend
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