Massachusetts Consecrates Monastic Spiritual Leader to Head the Diocese

Episcopal News Service. October 5, 1994 [94166]

Jay Cormier, Director of Communications in the Diocese of Massachusetts

Thousands crowded into the hockey arena at Boston University on September 24 for the consecration of one of the church's most prominent spiritual teachers to lead the diocese into the future.

The Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, former superior of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, has served as chaplain to the House of Bishops and is known throughout the church as a preacher and retreat leader. He was elected bishop coadjutor on the first ballot at the March 12 special convention of the church's largest diocese.

The consecration service reflected the full diversity of the 193 congregations of the diocese, weaving together a joyful tapestry of the richness of Anglican liturgy and the different styles and gifts, combined with the profound prayerfulness of monastic simplicity.

Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning was chief consecrator, joined by Bishop David E. Johnson and Bishop Barbara Harris, and former Massachusetts bishops John Coburn and John Burgess. Thirty-nine bishops stepped forward to lay hands on Shaw during the consecration, joined by Swedish Bishop Krister Stendahl, former dean of the Harvard Divinity School and now the retired bishop of Stockholm, living in Cambridge.

Reflecting on the readings for Holy Cross Day, the Rev. Jane Presler, co-rector of St. Peter's Church in Cambridge, said that the election of Shaw is the result of "our deepest desire" for a teacher. "The church's work began and begins in contemplation of the cross. Love is born and deepened there. That is not new with this episcopate, but Tom will bring the cross as a source of judgement, of discernment, upon our diocese in a particular way at this point in history. That is the custom of his monastic community. May Bishop Shaw preside over a period of theological reform and mission generosity arising from our own deep hunger for God's presence, which is perfectly satisfied at the cross," she said.

The liturgy embraced the multicultural diversity of the diocese, with lessons read in English, Haitian Creole, Cantonese and Spanish -- and concluded with Shaw blessing the congregation in English and Spanish. The three-hour liturgy was telecast live throughout the area on the New England Cable News channel and nationally on the Episcopal Cathedral Telecommunications Network.

[thumbnail: Diocese of Massachusetts...]