SAN JOAQUIN: Bishop John David Schofield Dies
By Bishop Keith L. Ackerman
October 30, 2103
The death of the Right Reverend John David Mercer Schofield, SSC, 4th Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin, has touched the hearts of many people throughout the world, and particularly those Traditional Anglicans who looked to him as a courageous leader, who took seriously his vows as a Successor of the Apostles and a Defender of the Faith once delivered to the Apostles.
A cradle Anglican with deep English roots, Bp. Schofield's life embodied the breadth of Anglicanism: Anglo-Catholic in theology, Evangelical in proclaiming the Gospel, and Charismatic in expression. Those with a limited view will remember him primarily for his staunch defense of the Catholic Faith which resulted in his participation in numerous events that challenged the Catholic order of the Episcopal Church.
Indeed, his election as Bishop of San Joaquin very nearly was not approved by the General Convention due to the fact that he maintained the historic and received view regarding Holy Orders. His participation in the Righter trial was due to his belief that Conventions do not have the authority to alter that which was received regarding both Holy Orders and the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
His brave defense of Orthodoxy resulted in his Diocese concluding that in order to remain faithful Anglicans they needed to participate in the realignment of North American Anglicanism resulting in his expulsion from the Episcopal Church, endless litigation by that ecclesial body, and public statements including a booklet which mischaracterized him. In the spirit of the Beatitudes he continued to glorify God with joy, drawing upon the spiritual strength bestowed upon him by regularly being at the Altar, hearing confessions, offering spiritual direction, delving deeply into the Scriptu res, reading carefully the Church Fathers and being immersed in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
The "Bishop John David" not portrayed in magazine articles was generous with all people, a great lover of the arts, particularly Opera, and enthusiastically engaged in the culinary arts. Being hosted by Bp. John David was a bit like having a foretaste of Heaven. One day he heard of a Bishop whose ring had been stolen. He immediately took off his own and placed it on the finger of the Bishop. It has been been said that the mark of a holy man is when one is in his presence and feels as if there is no one else in the world at that moment. As a result he had many spiritual sons and daughters who looked to him for guidance, counsel, encouragement and prayer.
He was a leader in virtually every organization or movement that has sought to preserve the received Faith, among them Forward in Faith and its predecessors and Nashotah House. His contribution will be missed, but the promise of his prayers before the throne of Grace at the Altar in Heaven will be a great consolation for us who are left behind in our earthly pilgrimage. He who was "larger than life" is now in the "larger life," and as we approach All Saints Day and All Souls Day we will remember our beloved John David. May he rest in Peace and Rise in Glory. Pax tibi dear bishop.
The Rt. Revd Keith L. Ackerman is President of Forward in Faith North America and the former Episcopal Bishop of Quincy
A Man Of Joy, Courage and Prayer: Bishop John David Schofield RIP
Fr. Dale Matson
October 30, 2013
Last Mass of Chrism For Bishop Schofield
I left an autographed copy of my first book on his desk the previous morning and stood in Bishop Schofield's office door the following day. Fishing for a compliment, I asked, "So Bishop, what did you think of my book?" "Find yourself a good editor", he responded. This was followed with predictable gales of laughter. Although an intellectual, his office was filled with humorous cartoons along with an impressive library. Most of the time his humor was self-deprecating. In exasperation, he said to me the last time we were together, "I'm busier in retirement than I was as a Bishop." I responded, "That's because June (his administrative assistant) is no longer here to save you from yourself." He hated meetings and freely admitted that he did not have the gift of administration. +JDS had more stories than you can shake a stick at and mentioning her name 'reminded' him of a story about her. June had a habit of reading the ending of a book to determine whether she wanted to read the book. He once gave her a book with the last pages removed to get her to read the book. I will always remember his laughter. He was a man of joy.
Bishop Schofield was the first bishop to remove his Diocese from the Episcopal Church. It was a necessary step in the eventual formation of the Anglican Church North America (ACNA). For that he has made enemies who reviled him. A man is as well known for his enemies as he is for his friends. His friends loved him. He suffered more than we will ever know. He was tormented with physical ailments akin to Job. He once told me that Satan attacked him through his sister until she died and then Satan came after him. With failing health, his last two years as bishop were difficult but he stayed on at the request of Archbishop Duncan. For 23 years, he led the Diocese of San Joaquin. As the bishop, he attracted and hired conservative clergy. It made our diocese different. The clergy were, for the most part, more conservative than their parishioners. He is the last of the princely Bishops and a man of courage.
He had discernment about things and his wisdom was employed as an exhortation to people like me. He ordained me as a vocational deacon. After two years, I went into his office and asked what he thought about me seeking the priesthood. "I was wondering when you would ask that question." "I'm surprised you haven't asked already."
There is also a pastoral side to him that his clergy especially experienced. Before our ordination, he would spend two days with us on retreat at our conference center in Oakhurst. During that time he handed down the faith once delivered and instructed us about self-care including nurturing our spirituals lives. As he talked about his mornings spent in intercessory prayer and showed me his book of prayers he recited daily, I became fully aware of the depth of his spiritual life. He was a man of prayer.
My current devotional given to me by my brother Fr. Van is called Voices of the Saints: A Year of Readings. (Bert Ghezzi) Bishop Schofield's life compares favorably to many of the saintly stories. At 75, he lived longer than most. If he were to respond to my comparison, he would say, "Why, of course I compare." In fact, some of them were rascals." He would then offer up one of his patented belly laughs. God bless you Bishop Schofield and thank you for your service. YBIC Dale+
Here is a video clip from an interview I did with him in late fall of 2010.
The full-length video interview is available from Amazon as a download or rental here.
BISHOPS SEND CONDOLENCES ON DEATH OF JOHN DAVID SCHOFIELD
I am very sorry to learn of Bishop Schofield's death. He encouraged so many of us for so many years, and he was a great soul. To quote St. Jerome, grandis et corpulentus. I remember vividly his consent process to become Bishop of San Joaquin, during the General Convention in Detroit in 1988. His hearings were very noisy and chaotic, with all sorts of protests. David Mills and I were busy editing the daily convention paper for the Evangelical and Catholic Mission when he came into the room after a particularly nasty session. He said that the Holy Spirit would see him through and that he needed a nap. We carried on with our work, even covering him with the page proofs. His ability to rest in the Lord while the storms raged around him deeply impressed us.
Blessings to you.
Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is with a heavy heart but a joyful spirit that I must share with you the passing of our beloved brother, the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield. Bishop Schofield died peacefully at home sometime last night sitting in his favorite green chair and was found this morning by friends. My heart is heavy because I am selfish and desire my brother by my side, but also joyful because I know that at this moment he has heard the words of our Lord, "Well done good and faithful servant." I can picture +John-David sitting at the banquet table of our Lord with his sister and parents who have gone before him.
As I write this note to you all I am in Rome with my wife, but will be returning home as soon as humanly possible. Dean Carlos Raines has anointed Bp. Schofield and begun the sad task of making funeral arrangements. We have nothing specific to share with you at this moment, but will let you know as soon as possible what the arrangements are for Bp. Schofield's funeral.
God Bless you all.
"Oh God whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of thy servant John-David, Bishop, and grant him an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of thy saints; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever." Amen
Statement from Archbishop Robert Duncan at Hearing of the Death of The Right Revd John-David Mercer Schofield
Bishop John-David Schofield was a great man of God. I - like so very many others - shall miss him terribly. His spiritual depth twinned with his unparalleled sense of humor made him one of a kind. The Renaissance poet Dante Alighieri once likened the sound of heaven's perpetual "Holy, Holy, Holy" to "the laughter of the ages." With our beloved late Father-in-God now swelling the chorus, there will be more laughter than ever. Ours is the loss. Jesus is our hope. Rest in peace dear friend.
To the faithful of the Diocese of San Joaquin, and to all who grieve in this season, please be assured of my prayers, and of those of all the faithful of the Anglican Church in North America.
The Most Revd Robert Duncan, D.D.
Archbishop, Anglican Church in North America Bishop,
Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh
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