God Be With You, Bill

God Be With You, Bill

This past weekend we lost a great friend, 94-year-old Msgr. William H. Shannon. “Bill” was plenty for him—though he was an internationally known writer. He came to write for Franciscan Media in the mid-1990s.

At the time we were planning a parish handout series about the new Catechism of the Catholic Church and had seen an article Bill had written in America magazine (yes, we go after talent when we see it!).

His work on Thomas Merton, including one of our own that he eventually wrote, Thomas Merton: An Introduction, was his claim to fame. But his fine work here started with Exploring the New Catechism.

During this last period of his life (he wrote until very recently), Bill also wrote about looking into the future of life after death in his book Here On the Way to There.

Bill was most widely known as a scholar of the famous Trappist Father Thomas Merton. Bill wrote a lot about Merton over the course of his life, and was founder of the International Thomas Merton Society. Bill would drive from his home among his beloved Sisters of St. Joseph, in Rochester, New York, to Gethsamani, the Trappist monastery south of Louisville, Kentucky, annually. One year he stopped in Cincinnati on the way, to see his new friends at St. Anthony Messenger (Franciscan Media). When he told me he was on his way to Merton’s place, I asked to come along.

Memo: Never get into a car for a road trip with a very old, somewhat crippled man behind the steering wheel!

There were scary moments on the way down, but what a treat to see all of Merton’s places and things. And I got even with Bill on the way back! More on that in another blog that I’ll write soon.

Bill, we love you. And you were always so kind to us! Now, we pray for you, maybe in words a bit more traditional than was your everyday style: “May angels lead you into paradise; upon your arrival, may the martyrs receive you and lead you to the holy city of Jerusalem. May the ranks of angels receive you, and with Lazarus, once a poor man, may you have eternal rest.”

Here’s a link to an obituary from Rochester’s Catholic Courier.


Photo courtesy of the Catholic Courier


About the Author

John Feister is editor in chief of St. Anthony Messenger magazine. He has a B.A. in American Studies from University of Dayton, and master's degrees in Humanities and in Theology from Xavier University. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, and was previously an adviser to the Communications Committee of the U.S. Catholic bishops (2000-2006). His latest book, Thank You, Sisters: Stories of Women Religious and How They Enrich Our Lives is available from the Franciscan Media catalog. He has cauthored four books with Richard Rohr (Franciscan Media), and coauthored, with Charlene Smith, the biography of Thea Bowman (Orbis books).
  • Katiec

    The good monsignor’s brilliance was eclipsed only by his kindness.