That's God -- LOVE. We're called to enter into that mystery because we're made in the image of God, so we're called to be people who love. The only way we grow into our fullness as a human person is by loving, loving one another. ~ Pax Christi USA Bishop President Emeritus Tom Gumbleton

Bishop Tom Gumbleton of Detroit died on April 4. He was a great champion for justice and a good friend of Sister Ardeth Platte and Sister Carol Gilbert. His presence and commitment to synodality and shared discipleship influenced many people including Megan McElroy, OP.   Read her tribute below.

I first met Bishop Tom Gumbleton as a student at Shrine High School in Royal Oak, Michigan, when he would come to celebrate Mass with us every fall. Our paths would cross sporadically over the years at various parish presentations or the installations of friends as new pastors.

Like his mentor, John Cardinal Dearden, Archbishop of Detroit 1958-1980, Bishop Gumbleton was committed to the vision of Vatican II and its call to synodality. Though too young to even be aware of the early post-Vatican II years, I was formed in the vision of Church these two episcopal leaders envisioned for the Church of Detroit, a vision that inspired lay people to embrace their baptismal authority and responsibility.

I did not count Bishop Gumbleton as a friend, but I did count on him, especially for his moral authority. His commitment to non-violence was evident in his presentations on a variety of topics, particularly in the way he responded with respect and dignity to those who opposed his positions. He was a voice for peace, speaking out against wars and violence all around the world; and he was a voice for those on the margins, those who are poor, those in the LGBTQ community, those who experienced sexual abuse by clergy, and for women. He paid the price for his commitment to the Gospel, but it did not stop him from continuing his witness.

The last time I saw Bishop Gumbleton was in 2015 when the investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)was underway. Women religious were already enduring the apostolic visitation when the doctrinal investigation was announced. I was angry and struggling with the Church’s hierarchical leadership, and a friend of mine suggested I “talk with Gumps” (as he was affectionately known). He gave me Tom’s phone number, I called him up, and he invited me to St. Leo’s rectory in Detroit where he was living. We spent about two hours together. I appreciated his candor about his own disappointment and frustration with the Church, how he had been hurt by the Church, and his love of the Church. It was his willingness to meet with me that reminded me we are not alone on our journey of discipleship no matter how hard and how wonderful the journey is.

Bishop Gumbleton was a contemplative man who drew strength from his relationship with Jesus Christ. It was that relationship that gave him the courage and fortitude to be the witness of true discipleship our Church needs in its leaders. May his spirit continue to inspire us as we live into what it means to be a synodal Church.

Bishop Tom Gumbleton, pray for us!


More about Bishop Tom Gumbleton at Pax Christi USA

Bishop Gumbleton’s obituary: