Photo courtesy of the Diocese of London.

Bishop John Sherlock, former head of London diocese, dies at 93

  • August 13, 2019

Bishop John Sherlock, who for 24 years was Bishop of London, Ont., died Aug. 12. He was 93.

Bishop Sherlock was the ninth bishop of the Diocese of London and its longest serving bishop. He was installed as bishop in 1978 and served until his retirement in 2002. For the previous four years he had served as auxiliary bishop to Bishop Gerald Emmett Carter before the latter moved on to Toronto.

“Bishop Sherlock was a true pastor who was close to his priests and his people,” said Bishop Ronald Fabbro, who succeeded Bishop Sherlock. “In his episcopal ministry over the past 45 years, he gave his life in service of our diocese and the wider Church in Canada. We will miss him, and we pray for him that he will rest in peace.”

Born in Regina, Sask., in 1926, and raised in Brantford, Ont., he was the second eldest of six sons and two daughters. Three of the boys would go on to the priesthood. He was ordained a priest in 1950 for the Diocese of Hamilton and began graduate work in canon law, completing his licentiate in 1952. He began parochial work in Hamilton and later Dundas. He became pastor at St. Charles Garner Parish and was heavily involved in the diocese’s tribunal, the Newman chaplaincy and cooperative housing. He also taught Sacred Scripture at McMaster University and worked closely with school and hospital boards.

Bishop Sherlock was involved in the social issues of his time, according to a biography on the diocese’s website, and was outspoken on issues ranging from the economy, abortion, unemployment, education and poverty in the Third World.

During his time in London Bishop Sherlock launched the Pentecost 2000 campaign in 1989 which was essential to the restoration of London’s St. Peter’s Seminary. It raised more than $21 million and has left a lasting endowment for the seminary as well as vital funding to establish youth ministry, refugee, liturgy and justice offices in the diocese.

Bishop Sherlock was president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops from 1983-85 and was tasked with organizing the papal visit of Pope John Paul II to Canada in 1984. He accompanied the future saint on his cross-Canada tour and a close friendship developed between the two men.

He retired in April 2002 and remained in London, which he now considered home, and remained active in teaching, helping at parishes, conducting retreats and parish missions and participating in diocesan celebrations. 

The visitation will be Thursday Aug. 15 at St. Peter's Cathedral Basilica, downtown London, from 1 – 9 pm, and again on Friday morning from 9 – 11 am. A funeral Mass will be held Aug. 16 at 11 a.m. at St. Peter's Cathedral Basilica in London.

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