In memory of
Archbishop Mark Shirilau
Founder of Ecumenical Catholic Church,
a global denomination welcoming LGBT people,
proud supporter of Jesus in Love
Dec. 13, 1955 - Jan. 12, 2014
I light a memorial candle for Archbishop Mark Shirilau, head of the Ecumenical Catholic Church and a proud supporter of Jesus in Love. He died on Jan. 12 from heart failure resulting from pneumonia while in Italy to ordain a priest. He was 58.
Mark founded the Ecumenical Catholic Church in 1987 to provide a religious home to gays and lesbians. It grew to include about 3,000 members in the United States, Italy and Latin America.
Mark Shirilau, official church portrait, 1993
His last words to me were posted online with his donation in October: “This should reach your goal. Thanks for your great work, Kitt. It's one of the few blogs and newsletters I actually take time to read. :) + Mark”
Mark contributed to Jesus in Love in many other ways too. He participated in the Queer Nativity Project at the Jesus in Love Blog by submitting a photo of the gay shepherd couple in his outdoor manger scene.
“Adam and Steve, the Gay Shepherd Couple” by Archbishop Mark Shirilau
Some of the shepherds in Bethlehem on the first Christmas must have felt same-sex attractions. Archbishop Mark Shirilau reports that the gay shepherd couple in his photo have been part of his family’s Nativity set since before he even knew what a gay couple was. Over the years he gained an extra shepherd and a gay consciousness. The results are reflected in his light-up Christmas lawn ornaments -- updated with energy-efficient light bulbs. More info
Although Mark is best known for his LGBT religious leadership, I also remember him for his commitment to solar energy and his love for dogs. He wrote an enthusiastic endorsement for the pet portraits offered through Jesus in Love.
Mark always used to send me the ECC calendar of saints around January every year. Last year he was happy that they added John Boswell. Now Mark is with the saints he loved.
In the wake of his death, ECC bishops elected David Kalke as acting primate and archbishop of the denomination.
A memorial service is set for Feb. 15 at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Riverside, California. Burial will be in Kaneohe, Hawaii, next to his late partner, Jeffery Shirilau.
Riverside man who led worldwide church dies (pe.com)
More on the death of Archbishop Mark Shirilau (pe.com)
Memorial service for archbishop changed (pe.com)
Remembering Archbishop Mark Steven Shirilau by Bishop James Alan Wilkowski
Mark Shirilau personal website
Ecumenical Catholic Church website
This post is part of the GLBT Saints series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. Saints, martyrs, mystics, prophets, witnesses, heroes, holy people, humanitarians, deities and religious figures of special interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and queer people and our allies are covered on appropriate dates throughout the year.
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