Bishop Robert Mulvee, of Happy Memory

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin

Of happy memory. It’s a beautiful little phrase often used to recall, fondly, the life and legacy of a recently deceased loved one. And it’s the phrase that has come to mind these days as I’ve reflected upon the passing of our friend and brother, Bishop Robert Mulvee.

I first remember meeting Bishop Mulvee when I was a relatively new bishop and had gotten involved in the activities of the Bishops Conference. He and I were both members of the Committee on Bishops Life and Ministry and I assisted him in organizing an orientation workshop for new bishops. It was an enjoyable project that allowed us to get to know one another rather well.

I’m not sure, and we never discussed it, but I suspect it’s that familiarity and working relationship that resulted in my name being considered as a successor to Bishop Mulvee. When his retirement was on the horizon and he was invited to suggest possible replacements, perhaps he thought of that young Bishop from Ohio with whom he had worked successfully.

Bishop Mulvee was about the best predecessor a new bishop could have. I remember him saying to me, on the day of my installation, “I’m giving you an installation gift. I’m leaving town and I won’t be in your way. Good luck!”

And that set the tone for the tenure of his retirement. As the Bishop moved seamlessly from Florida to the Cape, he was always a welcome sight when he returned home to Providence. He attended important diocesan ceremonies – ordinations, anniversaries and funerals – whenever he could. I was particularly pleased and honored when he interrupted his winter in Florida last year to attend my 25th Anniversary of Episcopal Ordination. He often visited diocesan offices with a few pleasant words or stories to tell. And in a sure sign of his gracious humanity, he even befriended my two dogs – first Molly and now Annie.

When I last saw Bishop Mulvee, on Christmas Eve, he was very tired and was sleeping soundly, so we didn’t speak, but I welcomed the opportunity to sit with him silently and reflect on how our paths as bishops had intersected.

My memories of Bishop Mulvee are indeed “happy memories,” and I will always be grateful for his example and personal support.

Something to think about: As we strive to grow in the imitation of Christ, it’s important to have sound role models of faith and discipleship like Bishop Mulvee.