And the master said to her, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matt 25:23)
This morning we learned of the passing of The Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris, a faithful disciple, courageous leader, and beautiful child of Jesus Christ. Bishop Harris is a daughter of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Her ministry and legacy are forever written alongside that of William White and Absalom Jones. Her faith stands among all those who have labored in the vineyard in this sacred place. More importantly, she deeply loved and trusted Jesus.
We will never forget that picture of Bishop Harris carrying the cross at the ordination of the Philadelphia 11 or when that crozier was placed in her hands upon her consecration as bishop. The sound of her voice as she proclaimed the Gospel pushed each one of us forward with the spirit of courage, hope, and love.
Many of us have sacred memories of Bishop Harris. I will never forget the time she was at my home in Albuquerque, and on the patio over dinner and wine, she shared many stories of her deep faith. Her hands will always be part of my episcopacy as she graciously served as a co-consecrator of my ordination. I ask that for the next month the diocese hold Bishop Harris in our prayers, not as a time of mourning, but one of rejoicing as she now sits at the feet of our Lord, laughing, teaching, preaching and being one with our Savior.
Barbara once wrote, "If we can believe that Jesus, who died, rose again from the dead, ... then we can, in peace, give over those who have died—known and unknown—to a loving, compassionate and ever-merciful God who has prepared for us a better home than this Good Friday world."
Arrangements are pending for the public funeral service to be held at Washington National Cathedral, and a private graveside service in Philadelphia followed thereafter by a memorial service at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston. The Diocese of Pennsylvania will celebrate her life at the Church of the Advocate in the coming months.
The Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez
XVI Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania
Rest eternal grant to them, and let light perpetual