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Robert Shahan, Retired Bishop of Arizona, Dies at 80

The Rt. Rev. Robert Reed Shahan, IV Bishop of Arizona, died in Kansas at the age of 80 on August 14, 2020, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Bishop Shahan was consecrated as bishop diocesan in December 1992, after spending a few months as bishop coadjutor. He retired in 2004.

He served on the General Convention’s influential Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget, and Finance, and made a November 1994 unity pilgrimage to Canterbury and Rome with four other Episcopal bishops, where they met with Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey and Pope John Paul II.

The Rt. Rev. Jennifer A. Reddall, who currently serves as the VI Bishop of Arizona, said “We are keeping Bishop Shahan and his family in our prayers. Many Arizona Episcopalians remember his years as bishop, and we are still benefiting from his wise stewardship of our diocese.”

In 2015, then-Bishop Kirk Smith announced on Facebook that Shahan had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and that he and his wife Mary Carol wanted to share that information with the diocese.

Shahan was a lifelong Episcopalian, and served for eight years in the U.S. Navy after graduating from the University of Kansas. When he felt a call to ministry, he prepared for ordination at Nashotah House, which awarded him the Master’s of Divinity degree in 1973. He also had graduate or honorary degrees from Michigan State, Northwestern, and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary.

Before being elected bishop, Shahan served at churches in Michigan, Chicago, South Carolina, and Kansas, where he was dean of Grace Cathedral in Topeka. He served several years on the faculty and administration of Seabury-Western.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Carol, whom he married in 1963, two daughters, Sarah and Susannah, and several grandchildren. A funeral was held August 21 at St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church in Overland Park, Kansas. An archived video of the service can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/c/stthomasop.

— Kirk Petersen


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