May 25, 2009

Paul Wessinger RIP

Word came yesterday of the death of Paul Wessinger, priest and monastic of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist. I only met him a couple of times, mostly in the 1980s, but he always seemed to be a gentle man of good humor and thoughtful wisdom. In the photograph below he is seen with BSG founder Richard Thomas Biernacki, and Mother Elizabeth Anne CSJB, in a picture taken in 1980 or '81. (Elizabeth Anne died in 1983.)

Also shown here is a copy of Fr Paul's ordination invitation, which came into my hands some years back when I obtained a priest's scrapbook on eBay. Fr Miller was beginning seminary the year Fr Paul graduated and was ordained. (I know the style in SSJE, as with BSG, is to refer to all members as "Brother" — but it is hard for me to think of this venerable man as anything other than a father in God.) There were a number of photos of the SSJE house in Cambridge, and I passed all of these along to the archivist. But I scanned this image because I thought it was so very poignant. Even more so now.

May he be bound ever more in the eternal love he served so long on earth.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


Leonard said...

Thank you for sharing your tribute to a well admired Brother and Father.


4 May 1535+ said...

Hi, Tobias--

I knew him, very slightly, from my time as a Harvard undergraduate--and was more than a bit in awe of him. One Ascension Day we were seated together on the train down to NYC, but I was rather too intimidated to carry on much of a conversation! Into Paradise may the angels lead him...

Bob McCloskey said...

Thanks for the news. Paul was a spiritual giant and a great liturgist. He was for a time my confessor. When I served as a chaplain at the Sisters of St.Anne in Arlington Heights, he was of immense assistance in easing the liturgical transitions there, after he had overseen the renewal of the Cram chapel into a more contemporary [but ancient] space. His sensitive and gracious guidance placated much of the personal emotions provoked by those changes. Rise with Christ in glory, indeed, with profound gratitude.

Episcopal Carmel of St. Teresa said...

A real Saint...... I think history will recognise him as a real giant in the reform of the Religious Life in the Episcopal Church as well as the Anglican Commuion as a whole..

May he rest in peace and rise in glory...

Sr Teresa Irene OCD
Episcopal Carmel of Saint Teresa

Martha said...

Thanks, also, for remembering Sr. Elizabeth Ann.

Dave Vanderah said...

A beauktiful ordination card, no.
It bears the mark of a Cambridge
African-Amrican long associated
with the SSJE. Can't recall his name; he died within the past yar
also at a great age.
Among countless othr things, Paul
lovingly pulled the community together during controversies over
women's ordination

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Yes, Dave, a beautiful card indeed. It does bear some similarity to the work of Allan Rohan Crite -- a copy of one of whose beautiful books I am happy to have in my library. I posted a bit about him at his death.

Yes, Fr. Paul was instrumental in holding SSJE together in those difficult times. God bless him, and the community, for their faithfulness...