Longtime Courier columnist Father Albert Shamon and his twin brother, Father Edward Shamon, were well-known in the Auburn area and sorely missed after they passed away. Recently, however, members of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Auburn found a way to memorialize the Shamon brothers — they named the street next to their church after the beloved priests.
A green street sign, complete with photographs of the two priests, shows all passers-by that the private street alongside the church should now be called Father Shamon’s Way.
“If you have ever been lost, the first thing you look for is a street sign. Street signs help us in two ways; first, to let us know where we are, and second, they help us recognize which direction we should be heading,” Father Peter DeBellis, pastor, wrote in his Dec. 5 bulletin column. “Therefore, it is appropriate that two of the many great priests from Auburn have a street sign named after them. These two brother priests have been a ‘street sign’ for many people. They helped us recognize where we are, in a spiritual sense, and then pointed the way to Christ and his church.”
Fraternal twins Albert and Edward Shamon were born in Auburn in 1915. After becoming priests, each served the Auburn community for many years. Father Edward served at his family’s home parish, St. Aloysius, until his death in 1980.
From 1961 to 1970, Father Albert served as pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Victor. In 1973, he became administrator, later pastor, of St. Mary’s Parish in Waterloo. After his retirement in 1985, Father Albert became administrator of St. Isaac Jogues Chapel in Fleming, where he served until his death in 2003.
In 1967 Father Albert began writing a weekly column for the Catholic Courier, then known as the Catholic Courier-Journal. He continued to write the weekly column for the next several decades, retiring from writing just a month before he passed away. In 1993, he played in instrumental part in the founding of Auburn’s Tyburn Academy, an independent, private school in the Catholic tradition.
“Because of their zeal and inspiration for teaching and living the faith, they have helped many people find Christ and deepen their faith. In tribute to these brother priests, to their lives and to the many people they helped, the pastoral council voted unanimously to name our street after them,” Father DeBellis wrote.
Both priests were great community leaders and inspired many vocations, including that of Father DeBellis. Both had been friends of the DeBellis family, and Father Edward was very supportive of his decision to enter Wadhams Hall seminary college in Ogdensburg after graduating from high school in 1976, Father DeBellis said. Although Father DeBellis left the seminary before completing his studies and worked in the secular arena for several years, in 1990 he again felt called to the priesthood. This time, Father Albert encouraged him to take up his ministerial studies again, he said.
“They are both a great example of men who were in this world but not of this world,” Father DeBellis said.
Before a crowd of parishioners and community members Dec. 5, Father DeBellis blessed the new street sign. Also as part of the ceremony, George Shamon, a nephew of the two priests, unveiled the sign and thanked those gathered for their support.
Although Father Shamon’s Way is the first street in Auburn to be renamed in honor of someone, Auburn Mayor Timothy Lattimore said at least one other street in the city recognizes influential Auburn citizens. South Street was once home to both abolitionist Harriet Tubman and William H. Seward – who served as secretary of state during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency — and signs along the street bear pictures of both, Lattimore said.
Lattimore said he requested the special street sign from the city after being approached by George and Tom Shamon, another nephew. The Shamon priests were special men, Lattimore said.
“I would like to have as much energy as the fathers had in their little fingers,” he remarked. “They were tremendous role models.”