Sunday, April 10, 2016

THIS OBITUARY IS IN SUNDAY MORNING'S MACON TELEGRAPH

Every life no matter how fallen has some dignity! Through the grace of conversion and repentance complete dignity is restored in Jesus Christ.

There is no dignity in the death penalty! 

This obituary below is a powerful homily and testimony to God's love and mercy! It brings tears to my eyes.

 Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace!

Josh Bishop (1975 - 2016)

Obituary
 Josh Bishop

Macon, GA- Josh Bishop, 41, was executed by the State of Georgia and died on March 31, 2016. His last words were ones of repentance and love.

Josh lived a Dickensian childhood in the modern era. He grew up under bridges in Milledgeville, Georgia, in group homes and foster care, often hungry or afraid. He loved the outdoors, though, and later—wholly without bitterness—described golden days of his childhood as ones where he could fish for food or fry up green tomatoes left out for trash by families who had more than they needed.

Everyone who knew him as a boy recalls his sweetness, eagerness to help others, and his devotion to his mother.

Unlike the street urchins of the Dickens stories, however, Josh was never saved by a kindly, wealthy gentleman—or even by the State agencies charged with protecting abused children. Instead, he fell into drug and alcohol abuse and at age 19 made horrible mistakes that were not otherwise in his character. His addiction, and what came of it, cost him his life, and he wanted youth growing up in similar circumstances to learn from his story.

In the bleak and alienated world of Georgia's Death Row, however, Josh found that he could be loved by others and by God, and he came to flourish there as an artist and as a man. He was embraced by the Shertenlieb family, who ministered to him, visited him, and taught him that no is one beyond the reach of forgiveness and redemption. He was baptized as a Catholic.

He taught himself to draw, and, having little else to offer, gave gifts of his art to his friends and family—and even other prisoners and guards. He began to read ("Anne Frank blowed my mind!") and never tired of discussing the Old Masters, Sturgill Simpson songs, or the beauty of the natural world. He was accepted and cared for by others who came to write and visit him—Amy and Ryan Dunn, Gene and Kathi Gunter, Timothy Tew—and he blossomed in their love and friendship. He was a friend to them, too.

In his last years, working with a clinic at Mercer Law School, he taught close to fifty students lessons about justice that they could never learn in a classroom. He offered abject apologies to the families of his victims, and was comforted in the grace offered by a number of those he had hurt. His heart bled for children who lived without hope for a better life, and did what he could to encourage teenagers who struggled with bitterness or apathy. From his prison cell, Josh reached others with his kind and open heart. He bore others up. He made the world better.

In his last hours, Josh comforted his friends, prayed with us, reminded us to take care of one another, and sang "Amazing Grace." He hoped that his death would "take away from the pain and add to the peace" of those he had hurt. His continued concern for the suffering of others while he faced the ultimate penalty showed that the evil the State wanted to stamp out was not there, and all that was lost was the potential of a redeemed soul to do good. If there is justice in heaven, if not on earth, he is painting with Rembrandt and humming along with Merle Haggard.

Josh is survived by his brother, Mike Bishop: his best fishing buddy, surrogate parent, and hero. His other beloved relatives include his niece, Sarah, and nephew, Tristan; their mother, Christy Lewis; and his cousins, Crystal Bishop Griffin and Adam Bishop. He is preceded in death by his mother, Carolyn Bishop.

A Mass will be celebrated at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Conyers, Georgia, at 10:30 am on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. A burial will follow at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. Centenary United Methodist Church in Macon, Georgia, will also host an ecumenical service in Josh's honor on Sunday, April 17, 2016, at 2pm.

In lieu of flowers, we encourage donations to the Methodist Home for Children and Youth, 304 Pierce Avenue, Macon, Georgia 31204.

17 comments:

Calvin Jansen said...

Wow, they make him sound like a role model for every child growing up. What a poor victim of society. We really should not blame him at all. It is society's fault.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

CJ, perhaps you are completely missing the Catholic ethos of this obituary.

We are all disordered by Original Sin and if not for the grace of God, the Passion, death and resurrection of our Lord and the sanctifying grace of baptism none of us has hope of redemption.

This poor soul is admits his guilty and was evangelized evidently by a Catholic family in prison experienced conversion. He apologized for his crimes to the family members that survived. At 42 he is not the same person as an addict at 19.

This obituary is a prolife homily and the best I've heard.

Calvin Jansen said...

I still thought it was a bit over the top.

Anonymous said...

Yes, CJ's sarcasm shows an inability to see and accept the possibility and reality of God 's grace in modern life.

Thanks for sharing this story of conversion to Christ.

Vox Cantoris said...

So, I googled the man's name. He murdered, along with another, one man. They were drunk.

This warrants the death penalty?

Capital Punishment can be justified - terrorism, treason, mass murder, deviant rapists and molesters who murder, murderers of police and prison guards, to name a few.

But for the murder of one man whilst drunk?

This says a lot more about the justice system in Georgia than capital punishment.

And why the 43 year wait?

May he rest in peace.

George said...


The clemency petition for Mr Bishop noted that several members of the two murder victims' families wrote to the pardons and paroles board asking that Bishop's sentence be commuted to life without parole.

Angela Morrison Duduk, one of Leverett Morrison's (the murder victim) sisters, wrote in a letter to the Georgia Parole board, ... "It is certainly a hard life in prison, but it is still life. I loved my brother Leverett, but his memory is not honored by killing Josh. I forgive Josh for what he did."

If you, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

It is by the benefits of Christ's Passion and Death that any of us hoped to be saved. Our hope is in our faith. "Now faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen."
The hope we have is available to all no matter how great the sin.

As grave an offense as some have committed, is there to be no hope of Christ's mercy, but only despair? How can this be since evidence is presented to us that God gives such a person the opportunity and grace to repent of their transgressions?

Our prayers are necessary.

"In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will."

Dymphna said...

"left out for trash by families who had more than they needed." So, he was going into his neighbor's yards and rifling through their trash? Either the "more than they needed" line was his excuse or the homilist has some issues that bear watching.

John Nolan said...

Capital punishment can be defended on the grounds that it is retributive and that it has a deterrent value, although Albert Pierrepoint, the most famous British executioner of the 20th century, claimed after his retirement that it never deterred anyone.

Murderers are usually the most reformable of criminals and the longer the delay between conviction and execution the more apparent this becomes. To put a middle-aged man to death for a crime he committed as a teenager and for which he has spent the best part of his life in custody would be regarded as unacceptable in any other part of the civilized world, so why do Americans tolerate it?

Anonymous said...

John, Many Americans have been seduced by the lures of a cult of ignorance and the, as yet, immaturity of the Wild West gunslinger mentality. Too many will look at the facts - little or no deterrence factor, the reform ability of young murderers - and simply scoff.

Flavius Hesychius said...

Vox,

The state of Georgia would execute people for speeding if it could.

More accurately, it would offer some million dollar fine in lieu of execution. And then it would shrug off criticism with 'well, they *can* pay the fine'.

There is no justice system in GA, only a money-making machine.

Flavius Hesychius said...

John Nolan,

The most irreformable of criminals are speeders. Most people who get one speeding ticket will get (usually several) more.

gob said...

As usual, I agree with John Nolan. FYI...I believe Calvin Jansen is really Gene.

Althea Gardner said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your view, Father. I have not always been anti-death penalty, but with age comes wisdom. I have come to realize that all life has value and every person was created in Gods image. Who are we to judge whether someone is repentant or sincere? If the victim's own family advocated on his behalf, this says a lot. The death penalty is archaic and goes against all that Jesus taught. A murder does not warrant another murder. I never walked a mile in Josh's shoes, I never was homeless and parent less as a child and I have never been under the grip of addiction; so I am unable to fully understand how he thought and felt. The world is a hard, cruel place. We should all try to make it a little better. It's easy to judge from a position of comfort. There are far better ways to punish than to take a life.

Stephen Conner said...

Thank you for sharing this, Father, and for giving your insight into this man's life. We are, indeed, all disordered by original sin. The state, in my humble opinion, is guilty of murder every time they "execute" somebody. Society, as a whole, always wants to be judge, jury and executioner, while making sure "human justice" is carried out. God carries out the final and ultimate judgment. Again, Father, thank you for sharing and, again, showing us how to look at people and situations from a truly Catholic prospective. God bless you!

Jusadbellum said...

The only justification I have for the death penalty is that the certainty of impending death DOES have notable effects on all of us for our conversion and 'getting serious about getting right with God and neighbor' that would be missing in any long prison sentence where the hope of eventual release might keep some worldly ambition smoldering in their heart of hearts.

In the 'bad old days' of swift justice, it was the certainty of death and ubiquitous chaplains offered that perhaps saved souls. Now though the Justice System seems to corrupt 100 men for every 1 who converts through the experience.

Isn't it the threat of death that inspires many soldiers to embrace their faith with renewed vigor? Isn't it common for the elderly to suddenly begin getting their affairs right with God and family?

There's a reason why the 4 last things is such a powerful meditation - in light of our impending death and judgment, life takes on a much more serious tone. Our choices and use of time and talents suddenly become of maximum value.

So while we may grieve that the State reserves the right to execute criminals, and we may prefer that "another way" could be found to protect society, I wonder if this is one of those situations that are of counter-intuitive: capital punishment might be better for souls than life in prison without parole. If we desire the conversion of sinners, and if we don't believe death is the worst fate to befall humanity (inasmuch as we're all going to die one day), then shouldn't we err on the side of whatever practice leads to conversion?

But even as I write this I wonder about the cases where men do seemingly convert and provably change their lives around and that in these cases why pardon might not be called for. Not routinely because that would lend itself to cynical abuse, but in cases where the convict showed provable conversion. That would certainly be called for as a mercy and mercy is what makes the world spin.

Daniel said...

Josh Bishop's crimes were terrible indeed, but addictions & mental illness can lead people to terrible things. It's hard to see how executing this man serves justice or makes us all safer. The death penalty is blood lust, pure and simple.

John Nolan said...

Jusadbellum

In 1961 the journalist Ludovic Kennedy published '10 Rillington Place' (made into a film in 1970) in which he argued that Timothy Evans, hanged ten years previously, was innocent. Evans was later granted a posthumous pardon and the book has been claimed as one of the factors leading to the ending of capital punishment in England in 1965.

Evelyn Waugh claimed that Kennedy had missed the point: 'Evans, a lapsed Catholic, was hell-bent. As a result of his conviction he was reconciled to the Church and died shriven.'