Friday, March 4, 2005
Retired Episcopal Bishop Honored
Staff and Wire Report
A service to honor the life of Richard Mitchell Trelease Jr. was held Thursday at the Cathedral Church of St. John in Albuquerque.
The retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande died Feb. 25. He was 83.
Trelease was bishop when the Diocese of the Rio Grande voted in 1975 in favor of the ordination of women. Even before the resolution passed, Trelease endorsed the hiring of two women priests ordained by the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass.
"You have my support and my respect for your willingness to take this stand," Trelease at the time wrote to the divinity school deans, according to a 1975 Journal story.
Bishop Trelease, in his letter, recognized the seminaries as independent institutions of the church and as having responsibility for leadership and prophesy, according to the story.
"There is no possible way divinity schools could prophesy to the church without crossing some sacred boundaries and embarrassing some people within the church," Trelease wrote.
Trelease was elected bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande, serving New Mexico and part of Texas, in 1971.
He took the helm during a time of change within the Episcopal Church when people were asking for more input into the church and its direction, according to a Journal story.
Trelease was known for his progressive Christian views, according to a published obituary. He was called "a tireless and outspoken advocate for the poor, the disenfranchised and the marginalized. He lobbied for water rights for people in the barrios, for women's rights, and for the rights of gays and lesbians."
During his tenure as bishop, he ordained the first woman Episcopal priest in New Mexico and Texas, the obituary said.
Trelease retired in 1988.
Born April 16, 1921, in Berkeley, Calif., Trelease grew up in Kansas City, Mo., where his father was rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
He began his ministry in Hawaii, where he was curate at the cathedral in Honolulu and the first rector of St. Christopher's in Kailua. He served eight years as rector of an Episcopal church in Wilmington, Del., and eight years as a rector in Akron, Ohio.
He is survived by his wife, Carol; children, Richard Mitchell Trelease III, Christopher Walker Trelease and Phyllis Trelease Bess; stepchildren, Ada Tuchler Portman, Ann Tuchler and Sarah Tuchler; a brother, the Rev. Murray Trelease; a sister, Rosemary Trelease, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.