Priesthood and Early Appointments.
He was eventually ordained in St Mary’s Catherdral, Cobh on Sunday April 18th 1875. In 1875 he began his ministry on the Cathedral staff in Plymouth, England, which included Dartmoor prison.
In 1877 he was appointed a junior curate in his hometown of Mallow.
In March 1881 he was appointed to Cobh. The town which had a large naval presence similar to Plymouth and his experience would have helped him. It was here that he became conscious of the power of the pen, and used it by contributing to the local publications.
Ill health again dogged him and he was given the year off to recover, which he spent in Youghal where the P.P. was an old friend.
In 1890 he returned as senior curate to Mallow and this marked a new phase of his literary work, where he considered the use of his pen as a means of spreading the Christian message through short stories, poems and eventually his novels.
P.P. of Doneraile.
In 1895 he was appointed Parish Priest of Doneraile. Around this time he finished the manuscript of his novel, Geoffrey Austin Student. Doneraile was a large country parish much different from the parishes he had served in up to then. I quote from ” By Pen and Pulpit” by Michael Barry- ” Fr. Sheehan began to draw close to the people of Doneraile. His great literacy would lead one to believe he spent the greater part of his life in literary pursuits. This was not so as writing was always secondary to his sacred duties. Slowly but surely he began to get to grips with his historic parish and as time went by the people began to see clearly that here was a man who was their friend and to whom they could turn in times of trouble and distress. They also saw a man who was eager to do what he could for his people, both in a spiritual and temporal way and to improve the Parish as a whole.”
In June 1909 Canon Sheehan was nominated as a Bishop for the Diocese of Lismore in New South Wales. It came as a complete surprise to him but it was out of the question for him to accept owning to the poor state of his health.
Pastoral Work in Doneraile.
His pastoral work in Doneraile cannot be overvalued. He was a great believer in education, and he was a great friend to the Presentation Convent schools and to the Christian Brother’s schools in Doneraile. Many a poor child, who showed academic promise was quietly helped by the Canon.