The Church of God needs inspiring bishops, men and women who are people of prayer, encouragement, pastoral care and dignity. God has blessed the church with fine examples.
Richard of Chichester (feast day in Church of England 16th June, elsewhere 3rd April), is one such example. He is an inspiration for bishops and leaders today. He came from a well to do family that fell into hard times, and through hard work rose to be Chancellor of Oxford, and later Bishop of Chichester (1244-1253). Like us all he had his difficult ways as well as his holy ones!
Richard’s years as bishop were judged by his contemporaries to be outstanding.
What made Richard a great bishop? What does his example suggest are the hallmarks of a great bishop?
He was a man of great austerity, marked by simple living and generosity to the needy. A man of great personal holiness, he was personally prepared to denounce publicly injustice in church and state when he came across it. He knew his people well and loved them. He toured his diocese on foot, personally visiting the clergy and caring for them and the people. Pastoral care and the sacraments were at the heart of his ministry, example and teaching. He insisted that the sacraments of the Church be central to church life and the worship of the church was always to be celebrated with care and dignity.
It remains a popular prayer for Christian people today of many traditions, and found its way into the 1971 rock musical Godspell too.
Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits Thou hast given me, for all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me. O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly and follow thee more nearly, day by day.