Fr. Dale Matson
Last Mass of Chrism For Bishop Schofield
I left an autographed copy of my first book on his desk the previous morning and stood in Bishop Schofield’s office door the following day. Fishing for a compliment, I asked, “So Bishop, what did you think of my book?” “Find yourself a good editor”, he responded. This was followed with predictable gales of laughter. Although an intellectual, his office was filled with humorous cartoons along with an impressive library. Most of the time his humor was self-deprecating. In exasperation, he said to me the last time we were together, “I’m busier in retirement than I was as a Bishop.” I responded, “That’s because June (his administrative assistant) is no longer here to save you from yourself.” He hated meetings and freely admitted that he did not have the gift of administration. +JDS had more stories than you can shake a stick at and mentioning her name ‘reminded’ him of a story about her. June had a habit of reading the ending of a book to determine whether she wanted to read the book. He once gave her a book with the last pages removed to get her to read the book. I will always remember his laughter. He was a man of joy.
Bishop Schofield was the first bishop to remove his Diocese from the Episcopal Church. It was a necessary step in the eventual formation of the Anglican Church North America (ACNA). For that he has made enemies who reviled him. A man is as well known for his enemies as he is for his friends. His friends loved him. He suffered more than we will ever know. He was tormented with physical ailments akin to Job. He once told me that Satan attacked him through his sister's health until she died and then Satan came after him. With failing health, his last two years as bishop were difficult but he stayed on at the request of Archbishop Duncan. For 23 years, he led the Diocese of San Joaquin. As the bishop, he attracted and hired conservative clergy. It made our diocese different. The clergy were, for the most part, more conservative than their parishioners. He is the last of the princely Bishops and a man of courage.
He had discernment about things and his wisdom was employed as an exhortation to people like me. He ordained me as a vocational deacon. After two years, I went into his office and asked what he thought about me seeking the priesthood. “I was wondering when you would ask that question.” “I’m surprised you haven’t asked already.”
There is also a pastoral side to him that his clergy especially experienced. Before our ordination, he would spend two days with us on retreat at our conference center in Oakhurst. During that time he handed down the faith once delivered and instructed us about self-care including nurturing our spirituals lives. As he talked about his mornings spent in intercessory prayer and showed me his book of prayers he recited daily, I became fully aware of the depth of his spiritual life. He was a man of prayer.
My current devotional given to me by my brother Fr. Van is called Voices of the Saints: A Year of Readings. (Bert Ghezzi) Bishop Schofield’s life compares favorably to many of the saintly stories. At 75, he lived longer than most. If he were to respond to my comparison, he would say, “Why, of course I compare!” In fact, some of them were rascals.” He would then offer up one of his patented belly laughs. God bless you Bishop Schofield and thank you for your service. YBIC Dale+
Here is a video clip from an interview I did with him in late fall of 2010.
The full-length video interview is available from Amazon as a download or rental here.