Shirley B. Cathie was born to Govan and Matilda Thigpen-Seabrook in Baltimore, Maryland on August 5, 1926. Shirley was the fifth of twelve children born to the Govan Seabrook family. They moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey where Shirley attended “segregated, but excellent schools.” She married the late Reverend Burton Chadwick Cathie, to whom she was married for sixty-plus years when the love of her life, passed away. Burton affectionately referred to his beloved wife, both privately and publicly as his “Queen.” To this union, two daughters were born: Reverend Carolyn Patricia Cathie- Waddy-Reid and Chaplain Shirley Bernice Cathie-Garrett. Both daughters followed their father’s and mother’s examples and have been blessed to have established successful ministries of their own.
Dr. Cathie believed in educational excellence and lifelong learning. She earned her G.E.D.; a Bachelor of Science degree from New Jersey State’s Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey Campus; a Master of Arts in Education from Montclair State University and a Doctorate in Education from Rutgers University. Continuing her studies in May, 1993, Dr. Cathie received the Master of Theology degree from Drew University, Madison, New Jersey graduating Cum Laude from that institution. Upon graduation from Drew, Dr. Cathie enrolled in and completed the Graduate Study Program at Blanton Peal Institute for Religion and Health, New York City.
A woman of diverse and multiple talents, Dr. Cathie was a full time instructor for Rutgers, the State University, Douglass College and University College. She has served as both state and regional Education Consultant for the New Jersey State Department of Education and the New York City School District, and has won funding for numerous projects and programs for her proposal writing, while employed by the Regional Districts. Dr. Cathie was appointed by the then Plainfield Honorable Mayor Richard L. Taylor and the Union County College Board as the first Director of the (then new) Plainfield Branch of Union County College, which still exists today from her initial work as its foundation. She recruited the first student body and established original courses of study, innovative instruction and community activities for adult learners, high school students and Plainfield residents.
A deeply spiritual woman, Rev. Dr. Shirley Cathie served as Co-Pastor of the Plainfield New Jersey Community Church of God with her late husband, Pastor Burton Cathie, for more than fifty years. In the early days, she joyfully/faithfully served the church as Chief Custodian, Cook, Choir Director/Musician, Sunday School Teacher and First Lady. Needless to say, Pastors Burton and Shirley served the Lord and his people with loyal hearts and were an awesome twosome! In addition, Dr. Cathie recorded two long-playing albums with her daughters in the early 1970’s. They traveled and sang together as “The Cathie Trio.” Her father often accompanied — preaching the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and occasionally, proudly singing the solo part of one of his favorite songs: “Where Could I Go But To The Lord?” Their albums were entitled: (The First) “The Cathie Trio Sings Hymns of Faith and Trust” and (The Second) “Lord I Need You — Walk With Me.”
Ultimately upon Pastor Burton Cathie’s retirement, Dr. Shirley Cathie accepted the challenge to serve the church as Pastor. On January 2, 1994, Rev. Dr. Cathie was installed as Senior Pastor of the Plainfield (NJ) Community Church of God by the Church of God New Jersey State Ministerial Association. She served as Senior Pastor until her retirement. Dr. Cathie also served the New Jersey Ministers’ organization as its Vice President. Rev. Dr. Cathie is the first woman to be elected to this statewide ministerial position. She was also elected and served as National Spiritual Life Coordinator for Women of the National Churches of God, Anderson, Indiana. As Co-Convener with her daughter. Rev. Carolyn Cathie-Waddy-Reid, she summoned the Annual Ministers' Wives' and Widows' Conference at West Middlesex, Pennsylvania, under the National Association of the Church of God. Rev. Dr. Cathie served the National Churches of God as Lecturer, Author, and Workshop Leader (often with her daughter. Chaplain Shirley Cathie-Garrett), and as Preacher, Teacher and Consultant. She was National Board Member of the Leadership Training Department, and Instructor for the Annual In-Service Training Institute, and a Board member of Church Extensions of the National Churches of God, Anderson, Indiana. She served nationally as the North-East Regional Coordinator for Women of the Church of God, (Currently named Christian Women Connection), serving New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia. She and her family also visited and served the Churches of God in Durban and Cape Town, South Africa; having been invited by the National Missionary Board of the Churches of God; Anderson, Indiana.
A world traveler and lifetime learner. Dr. Cathie toured and participated in a work-study project to El Salvador with a team of theologians and graduate students from Drew University's School of Theology where she interacted with members of the "Peoples Liberation Movement," with various other educators, ministers and indigenous families. As Educator and Spiritual Advisor, she travelled throughout the United States, Bermuda, Russia, South Africa, West Africa, Germany, Italy, Guyana, The Caribbean Islands, Spain, Mexico and The Holy Land, often accompanied by her beloved family and other colleagues.
As volunteer and community leader, Rev. Dr. Shirley Bernice Seabrook-Cathie served her home Community of Plainfield as an enthusiastic and dedicated member of the Board of Education. For five years. Dr. Cathie produced and hosted a weekly television show entitled "Your Community Network." She co-founded and annually convened along with her friend and colleague. Dr. Willa M. Cofield, "The Black Women’s History Conference" to support, educate, and provide a forum of expression for women to share issues effecting women, families and especially the African American Community. She also served as President of the Union County Commission on the Status of Women and founded the Burton C. and Shirley B. Cathie Family Life Development Center here in Plainfield.
As you can imagine, the Reverend Dr. Shirley Cathie's public recognition in citations and awards are far too numerous to mention. However, just to cite a few: Dr. Cathie is listed in several additions of "Who's Who", in world and career areas. She also received the "Distinguished Service" award in 2007 from Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education Alumni Association. Most recently on June 3, 2017, The Honorable Mayor Adrian O. Mapp held an awe-inspiring Street Naming Ceremony, forever changing the former "Church Street" to its present name: "Dr. Shirley Bernice Seabrook-Cathie Drive." Likewise on that day. Mayor Mapp officially declared June 3"' to be celebrated as "Dr. Shirley Bernice Seabrook- Cathie Day!"
Dr. Cathie, will be sorely missed. She was a real woman of God; a trail blazer; an encourager; a motivator; a champion and advocate for women and their children; for the marginal; the disenfranchised, the displaced. She was indeed a Proverbs 31 woman. She was considered by all who really knew her to be kind-hearted, generous, loving and caring. She was indeed a living legend; a phenomenal person!!!
She was preceded in death by her parents, Govan and Matilda Thigpen-Seabrook; her husband. Rev. Burton C. Cathie; and her siblings - Paul Seabrook; Alfred Seabrook; Dorothy Seabrook-Lee; Mary Seabrook-Beverly; Gerrylyn Seabrook- Banfield; Delores Seabrook-Jenkins; Gloria Seabrook-Lomax; Ellen Seabrook; Evelyn Seabrook and Barbara Seabrook- Woodo.
The torch is now passed!!! Daughters: Carolyn and Shirley; Grandchildren: Calvin Jr., (Kimberly Jenkins-Waddy), Burton, and Kimberly Clark-Waddy; Great Grandchildren: Calvin Ill, Austin, Matthew, Shelby and Sydney; Sister: Estherlander; several nieces, nephews, and cousins; Goddaughter: Naomi Garrison-Bettis; a very special friend: Dr. Willa M. Cofield; and other friends and colleagues are now among those left to proudly and courageously receive and carry on the illustrious legacy of our beloved "Shero." The songwriter said it best: "In the sweet bye and bye, we shall meet on that beautiful shore!"
"Well done, thou good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things. I will make you ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!" (King James Version of the Holy Bible)
RUTGERS HONORS REV. DR. CATHIE
The Rutgers University Graduate School of Education took time out on Saturday, March 31 to honor Shirley B. Seabrook-Cathie, Pastor Emeritus of Plainfield’s Community Church of God.
Rutgers could not have picked a better subject for the Distinguished Service Award
(which is given to as many as four Rutgers Graduate School of Education alumni for outstanding service in education and community) than Pastor Cathie.
Over the years she has earned four degrees, including a masters and doctorate from Rutgers, and pastored Community Church of God. She is also the matriarch of the Cathie Family Life Development Center of Plainfield, whose mission is to help young people and families develop in order to realize their dreams and goals.
Dr. Cathie initiated work study projects in Russia, South Africa, Kenya, and El Salvador, modeling, mentoring, lecturing, and counseling multitudes of women here at home in the USA, and around the world.
Cheers to a great humanitarian and an even greater human being!
5526 PARKSHIRE DRIVE
COLUMBUS, OH 43229-9351
(614) 264-8526/MOBILE PHONE
Rev. Dr. Shirley Bernice Seabrook-Cathie
The educational process was one of Dr. Cathie's passions!!! With that thought in mind, she requested that her remains be offered for research so that others may benefit from the results of what Alzheimers' research could provide.
If you are unable to attend this special service, we humbly ask that you would hold us close in your thoughts and prayers on that day and in the days ahead.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be shared with “the black women's history conference“ co-founded by the late Dr. Cathie and
Dr. Willa Cofield. Be assured that your contributions will be greatly appreciated and used for college scholarships in Dr. Cathie’s honor and may be sent either to Chaplain Garrett (address above) or to
Dr. Willa Cofield 510 East Seventh Street
Plainfield, NJ 07060
Peace and all other rich blessings!!!
The Rev. Burton C. and the Rev. Dr. Shirley B. Seabrook Cathie family