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Priest who served in Australia and the diocese dies at 87

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Father James R. Shelton, who served as a full-time priest in residence at Holy Trinity Church in Gainesville for seven years, died July 29 in Manassas.

Father Shelton was born June 16, 1933, in Youngstown, Ohio. He was educated in Ohio and earned his bachelor’s in history from Youngstown State University. He worked various jobs including in the U.S. Navy for four years and as a high school history teacher for two. 

He earned doctorates in sacred theology in 1991 and canon law in 1996 from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome. Prior to his doctorate in canon law, he earned his licentiate in canon law from the Roman Atheneum of the Holy Cross in Rome, now a university, in 1993. In 1998, he earned a degree in Catholic Church history from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. The same year, he applied to St. Charles Seminary in Guilford, Western Australia. 

He was ordained two years later June 30, 2000, for the Archdiocese of Perth in Australia. He served there for 10 years until he retired and returned to the United States, serving as a full-time priest in residence at Holy Trinity from 2011 to 2018, before living in a private residence. 

He is predeceased by his parents, James Matthew Shelton and Sara Marie Petty Shelton, as well as five siblings: John William Shelton, Ellen Alice Shelton, William James Shelton, Thomas Francis Shelton and Charles Patrick Shelton.  

Father Shelton’s funeral Mass will be offered at Holy Trinity Church Aug. 13 at 11 a.m.  There will be a viewing there Aug. 12, 4-8 p.m.  He will be buried at the U.S. Marine Corps cemetery in Quantico.  

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020