Br. Tom Shaw – Obituary


Thomas Shaw, monk and bishop, died on October 17 at the age of 69 after having been diagnosed with brain cancer in May 2013.  He was consecrated as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts on September 24, 1994, and served in that position until his retirement on September 13, 2014.  Br. Geoffrey Tristram, SSJE’s Superior, said, “Our brother Tom said during his last days he was so very, very thankful for the life God had given him: for the many wonderful people he had met, for the opportunities and challenges he had faced, and for the amazing grace he had experienced throughout his life.”

Br. Tom entered the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE) – the oldest religious order for men in the Episcopal/Anglican Church – in 1975, having previously served as a parish priest.  SSJE maintains a monastery in Cambridge, Mass., near Harvard University, and a rural monastery,  Emery House, in West Newbury, Mass.  He was elected as Superior to lead the order in 1982 and served in that role for 10 years.  During that time he was instrumental in developing the Emery House property as a retreat center, establishing the “Cowley” imprint for publishing books on prayer and spirituality, and renewing SSJE’s long-time commitment to children-at-risk in Boston through their Camp Saint Augustine in Foxborough, Mass.  Br. Tom also initiated the Brothers’ rewriting of The Rule of Life of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, an eight-year process of talking and listening to one another which resulted in a unique contemporary monastic Rule.

Following his consecration as bishop in 1994, he continued to live at SSJE’s monastery in Cambridge.  Shaw was a man of deep prayer, a charismatic figure who connected easily with young and old alike, and a leader whose creativity and entrepreneurial spirit led him to invent what was needed and new.  He was known for his sometimes-mischievous sense of humor, his tenacious courage, and his passion to serve Jesus, both among the privileged and the poor.

Br. Tom is survived by his Brothers in the monastery and three siblings: Penny Shaw of Louisville, Kentucky; Sam Shaw of Boulder, Colorado; and Stephen Shaw of Sherwood, Oregon; and his nieces, nephews, and godchildren.

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