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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Faithful departed

I got a note from my bishop today:

The Rt. Rev. William C. R. Sheridan, V Bishop of Northern Indiana, died this morning at 6:15 am at his home in Culver. Please keep him in your prayers, as well as Rudith and the Sheridan family.

I will always be grateful for Bishop Sheridan. He was friend, mentor, colleague, and brother to me, always gracious, ever a voice of encouragement and affirmation. He touched countless thousands of people - in our diocese and far beyond - and is deeply loved and admired. . . Our Lord used him in a mighty way.

Bp. Sheridan was not the first bishop I remember, but he was the first I remember really knowing.

In some ways he was a very formal man. His speech was always precise, correct, and colored by British overtones (the result, I am told, of several formative years spent Across the Pond); and I never recall seeing him garbed in anything but proper episcopal attire. At the same time, I found him to be both gentle and approachable. I can recall his coming to our diocesan youth camp-- resplendent in his purple cassock-- and taking a turn at bat during a softball game. I smile to think of that, even now.

He presided over some turbulent years in our church, a period including the advent of the New Prayer Book and the opening of ordained ministry to women. At the time, he was quietly but firmly opposed to the latter. In fact, he was one of the signatories of a pledge neither to ordain women, nor to allow ordained women to function in his cure.

However, his views changed over the years. After his retirement in the late '80's, he came to know women who served as deacons as well as priests, and to welcome and encourage their ministry. In fact, he was an active participant in the last ordination in our diocese only a couple of months ago, when the Rev. Susan Haynes was ordained to the priesthood. As frail and feeble as his body had become, he still came and vested; still joined Bp. Little in the examination of the candidate; still rose to join in the laying on of hands.

I know there are those who have taken issue with him, over the years. Here and there, now and again, I have been among them. And yet, even with that-- or maybe because of it-- I will miss this dear and holy man.

Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him.


Anonymous Marie said...

I think changing one's mind (about a Bishop or about women's ordination) is such a holy act. Blessings on you and on the faithful departed.

September 25, 2005 1:21 PM  

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