The Rev. John-Julian Swanson, OJN, the founder of the Order of St. Julian of Norwich and the author of numerous books of spiritual theology, died July 15 at 88, in the 35th year of his religious profession.
A native of Wisconsin, John Douglas Swanson earned a degree from Carleton College before training for the priesthood at Nashotah House. He was ordained in 1957, and began his ministry as vicar of St. Mary’s in the Snows in Eagle River, Wisconsin, and then served as rector of Christ Church, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for five years.
He moved to New York in 1970 to found Seminary of the Streets, a year-long program of ministerial preparation based in the then-blighted Lower East Side and focused on social justice and advocacy training. After leading the program for four years, he ran a bookshop in Maine, directed programs in drug rehabilitation and foster parenting in Connecticut, and had a practice as a psychotherapist.
In 1981, he became rector of the Church of the Resurrection in Norwich, Connecticut, and a year later, after making a pilgrimage to the shrine of Julian of Norwich in England, he felt an unexpected call to found a mixed religious order, men and women who would share a common life focused on contemplative prayer in the tradition of Mother Julian’s spirituality. He wrote a rule, and professed his life vows in 1985, taking the name John-Julian. The first oblate was received in 1982, and in 1986, two additional members took life vows.
The growing community moved to the DeKoven Center in Racine, Wisconsin, in 1988, at the invitation of Bishop Roger White of Milwaukee, and Swanson, now guardian of the order, also began serving as priest in charge of St. Mark’s in Milwaukee. Three years later, the community, now numbering five, moved to Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Swanson retired from parish ministry in 1995, and several years later, stepped down from leading the order, and was granted permission to live as a solitary. He wrote several adaptations and commentaries on Julian’s works during his final decades, as well as books of spiritual writing, and one of poetry. He was a regular worshiper in the Chapel of St. Mary at Nashotah House for the final 15 years of his life, well-known and loved (and sometimes feared) by the seminarians and faculty.
He is survived by a niece and a nephew, and by his brother and sisters in the order.
The Rev. Samuel A. Tomlinson III, who served as a priest for 60 years, died August 17 at age 85.
Tomlinson was born in Natchez, Miss., in 1935. He was a graduate of Millsaps College in Jackson and of General Theological Seminary. Ordained to the priesthood in 1961, he served churches throughout Mississippi with a brief stay in Arkansas.
He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Susanne, and by two sons and two grandchildren.
The Rev. Irvin Doyle Turner died Sept. 14 at age 77 from complications of COVID-19. Turner, a tribal judge of the White Earth Reservation, was known as “Netamishkang,” the One Who Goes Before His People.
A native of White Earth, Minn., he was a graduate of Bemidji State University, Moorhead State University, and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. He was a tribal judge from 1978 to 1981.
He served churches on the White Earth Reservation from 1985 to 1994.
Turner’s family said he sought out those who grieved, required solace, needed friendship, or desired to learn more about Ojibwe culture. He served the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota as a canon missioner for Indian work, was a founder and co-chair of the Minnesota Committee on Indian Work, and served as executive director of the Indigenous Theological Training Institute from 1997 to 2000.
He is survived by his wife, a daughter, two sons, four grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.
The Rev. Dr. Robert William Watson Jr. died August 9 in Covenant Village, Cromwell, Connecticut.
Watson was born in 1930 in Greenwich, Connecticut, and was a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, and St. Mary Seminary. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1957, and served parishes in Connecticut and Maryland.
While he was rector of St. Christopher’s Church in Linthicum, Maryland, he built a much larger facility and established a columbarium on the property. In Connecticut he served for three years on the staff of the diocesan camp and conference center Camp Washington and as a member of its board of directors.
Watson is survived by two sons, a brother, two sisters, a granddaughter and a great-grandson.
The Rev. Dr. David Williams, former rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., died Sept. 14 at age 76.
Born in Pennsylvania, he was a graduate of DeSales University, Episcopal Divinity School, and Andover Newton Theological School. He was ordained a priest in 1973 and served churches in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., before coming to Charleston. He maintained a private practice of psychotherapy and was a jazz pianist.
He is survived by his wife, a sister, and a brother.
The Rev. Deacon Dorothy (Doe) Gene Yates died Sept. 1 in San Francisco at age 82.
A native of the state of Washington and baptized as a young adult, she moved to San Francisco at age 21, was confirmed at Grace Cathedral by Bishop James Pike, and completed her university studies in California.
She was a graduate of the Diocese of California’s School for Deacons and was ordained to the diaconate in 1986.
“Deacon Doe’s service to many church communities and ministries is acknowledged with gratitude, especially her presence among us at Grace Cathedral, where in worship she proclaimed the gospel with deep conviction and lived out its commands serving in our many outreach programs,” the Diocese of California said in announcing her death.