A Monk in Motion: The Rt. Rev. Thomas Shaw


Tom Shaw, recently retired Bishop of Massachusetts, has passed into the larger life of Resurrection. I have only known Tom for two years, but was blessed to be with him at many church gatherings, actions for social justice and meals in which we shared our common vision of following Jesus and his revolutionary message.

I will always remember being with Tom at the prayer service in Boston, attended by President Obama, a few days after the Marathon bombing. In the moments before the service, with emotions running high in the church for a city in shock and grief, the Boston media all gathered around Tom, looking for a quote from the church leader they knew for so long. They did not know me – I had only been bishop of WMA for a few months. Tom said, “You don’t want to talk to me. You should be interviewing Bishop Fisher.” He introduced me to them and left. Talk about being thrown into the deep end of the pool! But I also realized what a humble and empowering gesture this was on Tom’s part and a vote of confidence in a new, inexperienced bishop.

Tom was a man of action in a church that sometimes chats itself to death. Tom got things done. From inner city programs that transform lives to prophetic actions concerning gun violence, immigration, marriage equality and climate change to raising the money for a retreat center that serves us all in New England, Tom did not stay still. He was a monk in motion and we are blessed by that.

At the House of Bishops meetings that take place every March and September, one evening is set-aside for “class dinners.” It is a time when everyone ordained in a particular year (that is your class) gathers for dinner. I’m with everyone consecrated in 2012. Tom has been a bishop so long; there was no one still active from his class of 1994. So I asked him to be an honorary member of our class. He was grateful and went to dinner with us. The blessing was ours.

Tom is at the Divine Banquet right now. He is in the Kingdom of God. And I think he is asking when that Kingdom will be on earth as it is in heaven. And he is developing an action plan.

May Tom rest in peace and rise in glory.