My good friend Jack C. celebrated his 81st birthday on Saturday 18th October. Our mutual friend Muriel Q. (born in Oldham, Lancs, U.K.) hosted a lovely dinner party to mark the birthday. Present were our hostess, Jack, his wondrous wife Donna and me.
The four of us have English connections (Muriel and I through birth); Jack and Donna via his career (see later).
Jack graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy (where he knew John McCain, one of the current Senators from Arizona). Jack's stellar career raised him to the rank of Captain (he had command of four ships). At one time he was attached to the U.S. Embassy in Athens (his two predecessors there had been assassinated).
His Athens assignment and his attendance at the Church of England Parish there led to him seeking Holy Orders in the Church of England when he'd retired from the U.S. Navy.
He trained for the ministry at Westcott House in Cambridge, U.K.; was ordained Deacon and Priest in the Diocese of Ely; and served rural parishes in that Diocese.
He (an American) was subsequently appointed to be the Assistant Chaplain at the U.K. Embassy in Oslo, Norway - and in that role he served C of E congregations in Oslo and in Bergen.
On their return to the U.S.A. Jack and Donna lived in Newport, R.I.. Jack served as Rector at the nearby St. George's Parish (now closed). For ten years Jack was the Chaplain to the Newport Fire Department.
Jack and Donna (much to my benefit) retired to Sarasota, FL. We became friends through our association as Priests-in-Residence at St. Boniface Church in that city.
Some months ago (bearing in mind his English sojourn) I asked Jack if he liked Kippers. Indeed he did (and Donna likes them too!). So I mail ordered some for his birthday gift.
So, if you are not a British or Canadian citizen you may wonder "what the heck are kippers?". Wikipedia provides the answer:
My order produced two whole kippered herrings, one for Jack and Donna, the other for me.
Here is mine
I cut it into two pieces, removed the head and the tail, and pan fried one half for lunch today - medium heat for eight minutes, turning often., no oil needed as the fish itself has good oil, eating it with garden peas and lovely ciabatta bread. "Twas the food of the gods".
I am saving the other half for another day.
Should you (in the USA) be adventurous and decide to order from Markys, do order two - otherwise the FedEx overnight delivery charge will be more than the cost of the kippers themselves.
The following (after ***) is a tender and accurate Boston
Globe story about the death of my Bishop, the Rt. Revd M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE. (Click on the link, or read the text).
First, my comments:
those who are not Episcopalians/Anglicans – yes there are monks and nuns [
spiritual brothers and sisters] who are members of various monastic and
conventual “orders” in the Anglican Communion.Bishop Shaw was a monk in one of those orders “The Society of St. John the
Evangelist”, hence SSJE..
When I was appointed to be the Rector at St.
James’s, Cambridge, MA in August 2000, Bishop Shaw welcomed me with open
arms.Although I had never served under
his leadership he somehow knew a bit about me, and he was delighted that I
would serve St. James’s.
Bishop Shaw became the Bishop of a divided and
fractious Diocese of Massachusetts in Jan 1995. His servant leadership led to
deep unity within the Diocese, and a renewal of God’s mission through the
Church:to preach and live the gospel.
When he visited our congregation I noted that he
was present first to listen, and second to teach and preach.He had an iron hand in a velvet glove -a hand he used sparingly and wisely.
You will see that his first given name was “Marvil”.He joked about this. At the time his
Suffragan (Assisting) Bishops were the Rt. Revd. Barbara C. Harris, and the Rt.
Revd. Roy Cederholm.Bishop Cederholm
was always known as “Bud” (probably from his youth). Bishop Shaw said that they sounded like a bowling league team “Marv,
Bud and Babs”.
As you read the obit. You will see that his
predecessor, Bishop David Johnson, committed suicide, (a ghastly event which Bishop Shaw handled with
wisdom, compassion and public honesty).Tom Shaw knew that “Church Secrets” are always dangerous.
In that small world which is the Episcopal Church, note that David Johnson had been the Rector at St. Boniface, Sarasota, FL, the parish at which now I assist-in-retirement.
As I thought today about Tom, (as he wanted his
clerics to call him), I realized that he had been my Bishop for longer than any
first in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts. The following dates are not the
years of service of these Bishops, but rather the years during which I served
Bishop Alexander Stewart 1976-1984
Bishop Andrew Wissemann (my predecessor at St.
Stephen’s, Pittsfield MA 1984 -1992
Bishop Robert Denig 1993-1995 (he died from as a
result of a very aggressive cancer after only 27 months in office). ( Bishop Shaw preached a tender and faithful to the Gospel sermon at Bishop Denig's funeral)
Bishop Gordon Scruton 1996-2000
Shaw became my Bishop in 200o, and even though I retired in 2006 and moved to
Florida, he continued to be the Bishop under whom I served though 2014.
Episcopal Ministers retire they continue to be accountable to the Bishop under
whom they served at the time of retirement, even if they move to live in
another “jurisdiction”. Thus I am a
Priest of the Diocese of Massachusetts, who is licensed to serve in the Diocese
of South West Florida).
That arcane information apart, I give thanks for
the life, witness and ministry of Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, my Bishop from 2000-2014
Soft-spoken and clad in a subdued black robe of
his monastic order, the Right Rev. M. Thomas Shaw seemed an unlikely choice in
1994 to lead one of the largest Episcopal dioceses in the nation. Yet his
unswerving devotion to spirituality and his unwillingness to avoid political
controversy turned him into one of the most visible and vocal religious leaders
of his time.
“Ever since I was a little boy I wanted to do
the will of God,” Bishop Shaw told the Globe two years into his 20-year tenure
as head of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.
Diagnosed with brain cancer nearly a year and a
half ago, Bishop Shaw died Friday. He was 69.
For Bishop Shaw, once called upon to be a
leader, fulfilling the will of God meant becoming a citizen of the world far
beyond the doors of the serene monastery on Memorial Drive in Cambridge that
was his home for nearly four decades. Though he preferred the life of a monk,
he appeared in national TV interviews, lobbied State House officials, worked as
an unpaid congressional intern, traveled to distant dangerous lands, and
created programs to address urban violence, particularly among the young.
He also went online with “Monk in the midst:
Bishop Shaw’s blog.” Still, his presence always reflected his background, and
he wore his monastic garb whether riding the T to his downtown Boston office or
walking through Washington’s halls of power.
Among Boston’s most powerful clergy, Bishop Shaw
was an early, key advocate for gay rights and for the ordination of women,
gays, and lesbians as priests in his denomination, and in a 2012 interview for
a documentary, he let it be known that he was gay and celibate. Long before
making his sexuality public, he guided his diocese through a stormy decade
while a conflicted Episcopal Church decided whether it would consecrate a gay
bishop and allow clergy to bless same-gender unions.
“The life of the church is always enhanced by
including people that live on the margins of society – women, people of color,
gay or lesbian people,” he told the Globe in 1997. “They have something
profound to say about the Kingdom of God and they are the people Jesus
specifically included among his disciples.”
At the same time, Bishop Shaw remained sensitive
to conservative opponents of gay marriage at home and abroad. Even while
advocating forcefully for gay rights within his denomination and beyond, he
waited more than five years after Massachusetts legalized gay marriage in 2004
before giving priests permission to officiate at same-gender weddings.
“I have a longstanding reputation for supporting
gay and lesbian rights, both in society and in the church, and I was surprised
and delighted when the Supreme Judicial Court made its decision,” he told the Globe
in 2004. “But this is one place where the state is ahead of the life of the
He was a leading supporter of elevating an
openly gay priest, V. Gene Robinson, to become bishop of New Hampshire.
Nonetheless, to better grasp the deeply held opposition some cultures have to
homosexuality, Bishop Shaw went to Africa in the late 1990s and immersed
himself in the Episcopal Church’s health and education projects in Uganda and
A decade later, he traveled to Zimbabwe on a
secret mission to express support for Anglican worshippers who were subjected
to human rights abuses, and to bear witness to their suffering through letters
to US officials back home. “I don’t think I’ve ever been any place where the
oppression has been that overt,” Bishop Shaw told the Globe upon his return.
To see close up how public policy is forged, he
moved to Washington, D.C., in early 2000 and spent a month as a congressional
intern working for Amory Houghton Jr., an Episcopalian and a Republican who was
then a US representative from New York and now lives in Cohasset.
The following year, Bishop Shaw incurred the ire
of Jewish leaders when he joined others outside the Israeli consulate in Boston
to protest that country’s treatment of Palestinians. Uncharacteristically, he traded
his monk’s garb for a purple cassock that announced the gravitas of a bishop.
His participation surprised many Jews, and he subsequently spent years mending
the rift through discussions with leaders in the Jewish community.
“It takes a lot to admit, ‘I may have hurt you,
and I want to understand why what I did or said hurt you,’” Rabbi Eric Gurvis
of Temple Shalom in West Newton, a past president of the Massachusetts Board of
Rabbis, told the Globe in 2013.
Not all Jewish leaders were soothed by his entreaties,
though, and Bishop Shaw continued to speak out for Palestinian rights.
Discussing his political activism in January
2013, when he announced plans to retire before learning he was ill, Bishop Shaw
invoked the life of Jesus. “He was very out there in terms of critiquing a
society that didn’t recognize the dignity of human beings,” he told the Globe.
“And so I think because I’m a follower of Jesus, that’s my responsibility as
well – I’m supposed to speak up on issues that diminish people’s dignity.”
Born in Battle Creek, Mich., on Aug. 28, 1945,
Marvil Thomas Shaw III grew up in a devout family and believed early on that he
would give his life over to God.
“The church was always at the center of my
life,” he told the Globe in 1997.
He graduated from Alma College in Alma, Mich.,
and received master’s degrees from the General Theological Seminary in New York
City and Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
When he was elected bishop in 1994, he was 48
and had served more than a decade as superior of his religious order, the
Society of St. John the Evangelist, known as the Cowley Fathers. Then and until
his death he lived in the order’s monastery on Memorial Drive, a short walk
from Harvard Square in Cambridge.
The first monk in the church’s history to be
elected bishop, his home was a small cell in the monastery, and he managed to
pray 90 minutes a day, even after taking on greater responsibilities as head of
the diocese. “I wouldn’t have the perspective I have on my struggles if I
didn’t pray,” he told the Globe in 1996.
Those struggles began early when he was elected
bishop. Serving initially alongside his predecessor, Bishop David E. Johnson,
Bishop Shaw guided the diocese through tragedy and tumult when Johnson shot
himself in January 1995. At the funeral, Bishop Shaw told mourners that “we
know David fell in the struggle against despair.”
Then, 11 days after announcing the suicide,
Bishop Shaw was a cosigner of a statement the diocese issued explaining that
Johnson “was involved in several extramarital relationships at different times
throughout his years of ministry, both as a priest and bishop,” including some
that “appear to have been of the character of sexual exploitation.” That
Johnson had been viewed as a tough enforcer of rules against clergy sexual
abuse added to the sense of betrayal many felt. “We don’t want to keep anything
hidden,” Bishop Shaw told the Globe a few days after issuing the statement.
“Knowing everything will help the healing begin.”
During Bishop Shaw’s tenure, among his proudest
accomplishments were creating programs to serve youth and to help eliminate
urban violence. A diocesan camp and retreat center opened in Greenfield, N.H.,
in 2003, and in the South End, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church initiated the
Bishop’s Summer Academic and Fun Enrichment program, or B-SAFE, for hundreds of
inner city youth. A graduate of the program, Jorge Fuentes, became a respected
counselor and mentor, and his death by a stray bullet, across the street from
his Dorchester home in 2012, was devastating for the diocese and Bishop Shaw,
who presided over the 19-year-old’s funeral.
Bishop Shaw’s final blog post included a video
of him speaking at the Mother’s Day Walk for Peace in 2013, when he was part of
a contingent of more than 600 Episcopalians who walked in memory of Fuentes.
When Bishop Shaw thought the time had arrived to
address his sexuality publicly, he took an understated approach, only doing so
in an interview while being filmed for “Love Free or Die,” a 2012 documentary
about Robinson, who became the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church
when he led the New Hampshire diocese.
Bishop Shaw told the Globe he didn’t want his
choice to be a celibate monk to be held up as an example that lesbians and gays
in the clergy should also choose celibacy.
“My hope has always been … that we can move
along this discussion about human sexuality in the best possible way, and I
thought for myself the best possible way I could move it along as a celibate
bishop was not by hiding it, but by not making myself the center of the
discussion,” he said then.
In January 2013, he announced he would retire by
year’s end. A few months later, in May, he said that he had brain cancer, and
he began radiation and chemotherapy soon after.
Upon announcing his retirement, Bishop Shaw
posted a letter on the diocesan website saying his decision emerged “from
prayer and conversation with my community, friends, and family.”
“I love being your bishop, and it is an honor to
serve you,” he wrote. “These years have been some of the richest years of my
life. All of you and this work have taught me much about myself and the nature
of our loving God for which I will always be grateful.”