When beloved professor, coach, author and psychologist Father Charles M. Shelton, S.J., died Jan. 20, he was surrounded by former students and fellow Jesuit priests.
Father Shelton, longtime professor at Regis University, was 63 and had been a Jesuit 41 years.
“This is an enormous loss to Regis,” said Jesuit Father John Fitzgibbons, president of the university and his friend since they were in formation together. “We’re all really going to miss Charlie.”
In December 2013, Father Shelton was diagnosed with Churg-Strauss syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder. After a hospital stay, he returned to the Regis community and was regaining his strength when he collapsed.
“When he died, honest to God there were 35 people, current and former students in his hospital room,” Father John Fitzgibbons said, himself included. “The word got out on Facebook and Twitter that Father Charlie was really dying, and the kids just showed up. It was really touching. And all the Jesuits, we were there—we all anointed him and said the rosary with him.”
Charles Shelton was born in Berea, Ky., on May 6, 1950, and was reared in Indiana. After graduating from St. Louis University with a degree in political science, he entered the Society of Jesus at Kostka House in Kansas City, Mo., in 1972. After novitiate, he studied philosophy and completed a master’s degree in political science at St. Louis University.
From 1976 to 1979, he taught at Regis Jesuit High School. He earned a master’s of divinity at Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley and was ordained to the priesthood at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis June 11, 1982.
“He was a great priest,” said Father Fitzgibbons. “He was loving and sympathetic; you could talk to him about anything—and kids did.”
From 1983 to 1987, he studied psychology at Loyola University Chicago, where he earned a Ph.D. after completing a clinical psychology internship at Indiana University School of Medicine. In 1988, he became a professor of psychology at Regis University, a position he held till his death.
“He was an extraordinary professor,” Father Fitzgibbons said. “The psychology department at Regis is really good and Charlie was one of the cornerstones of it.”
Father Shelton maintained a private practice in clinical psychology from 1988 to 2005, counseling many in the area, including priests and religious. He regularly presided at student liturgies on campus and was known for his thoughtful homilies. For many years, he served as the chaplain for the men’s soccer and baseball teams, providing encouragement and humor to the athletes.
Father Shelton wrote seven books including the well-received “Adolescent Spirituality: Pastoral Ministry for High School & College Youth” and scores of articles. He was a popular presenter on topics of spirituality and adolescent psychology.
He is survived by two sisters, Lois Jansen of Indianapolis and Marta Shelton of Terre Haute, Ind. A funeral Mass was celebrated at the St. John Francis Regis Chapel on the university’s Denver campus Jan. 25 and burial followed at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge.