Bishop Henry Jerrim: my eulogy

A Service of Thanksgiving to God for the life of Bishop Henry Allingham Jerrim, OBE, ED, ThL, 21/3/1916 – 22/5/2009 was held at St David’s Cathedral Hobart on June 18. Henry’s son, Peter, gave an outstanding eulogy to an outstanding ‘Hobart man’. Bishops Alf Chipman and Phillip Newell shared moving tributes to a humble and dedicated servant of Jesus Christ. I concluded the eulogies with the following words,

Bishop Henry Jerrim was gentle, wise and caring.
Henry would come and sit at the table in my office:
‘How’s it going, John?’
I’d share the good news.
‘And how’s it going, John?’ he would repeat, his face all smiles.
After I had opened up, he would respond,
‘Ah, Keep going. Keep going.’

During his final day I visited him with Father David O’Neill. Henry was unconscious, his children were gathered, we spoke and shared. Holding Henry’s hand, I prayed and we recounted some stories – hoping he could hear!

Leaving his room I asked a nurse for directions and she kindly offered to show me the way. I commented on Bishop Henry and immediately the nurse enthused,
‘Henry is so caring, pleasant and considerate. When I am trying to get relief staff, my trump card to get them to come in is to say that Henry is on their duty list! Bishop Henry is a special man.’

I will never forget an earlier day, around his 88th birthday, when he told me of his stumbling reading of the prayers and lack of capacity to properly lead worship at the Cathedral. With tears in his eyes he told me, ‘I can’t help you any more at the Cathedral. I’m sorry.’

But his inability to lead public worship did not stop his personal worship.
Whenever I visited Bishop Henry his Bible and Prayer Book were by his side.
When we celebrated Holy Communion in his room he did not need the Prayer Book as the words of worship were in his heart and mind.
Jesus Christ filled Bishop Henry’s heart and mind.
Jesus Christ was the vision that guided his life.

As we come now to sing the ancient Irish hymn, possibly from the 8th Century (tr. by Mary E. Byrne),

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;

We are reminded that Jesus Christ was the vision that inspired Bishop Henry Jerrim’s life.

May the vision of Jesus Christ inspire our lives, also.

Let us stand to sing, Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.

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