Letter to Bill Jr from Bp. Daniel Corrigan

Letter to Bill Jr., From Daniel Corrigan, retired suffragan bishop of Colorado and head of the Home Dept., Executive Council for Presiding Bishop John Hines, March 1, 1988

“Dear Bill Spofford:

“All remembering things, thinking about them…and finally correlating them (even the spelling, I see) is leaving me too rapidly for my taste but acceptance is now the name of the game. However! Here goes! In 1923 (1st year in seminary) after completing Nashotah Collegiate Dept. in 1922, my Bishop sent me to a parish in a small city; (I had been working in a nearby sanitarium). I remained there until mid-1931.

During those years I had become very involved in the life of the community and some of the very real abuses which hurt it became familiar to me. There were several for which I could not avoid personal responsibility! I had spent a summer with Aubry Williams of the Un. Wisconsin on his investigation of the misuse of state funds allocated for boarding homes for children. That was an eye-opener; made me more sensitive to other built-in injustices — even killers! There was large grave- marking industry in the area which employed men from the parish. I commented one day on the fact that several men from the parish, whose livelihood depended on gravestones, had died over a few years. The comeback was instantaneous: ‘Don’t you know! They die because they have not installed the suckers that take the granite dust out of the air.” (that are required by law)! And two bedraggled, tired old women would shout at early service. I discovered they worked all night in a laundry which respected neither minimum hour or minimum wage laws. So a whole new field of mission opened . THE WITNESS had become part of my regular diet and for it I was very grateful. It deepened my understanding and increased my sense of responsibility.

In the course of parish calling, I discovered a man who was on the list but not very visible. He lived on the canal between the Wisconsin River and the Fox River. His place was beautiful in a profound sense: all kinds of grape bearing vines, raspberry, strawberries, beehives, a criss-cross arbor in the garden. Obviously lived in–a big table, generous chairs about it–a well worn, well used look about it. But where was he? (I knew his wife worked for people here and there.) I finally called out and he responded from under the peak of his roof from which he was trying to induce a hive of bees to accept more salubrious quarters! Did he wear protective masks and gloves, etc., etc. No way! He spoke the language. He named them! and then we sat down for the first of many visits through the years. Was he ever HEP! He finally accepted responsibility for the physical care of the church. And I began passing on to him my copy of THE WITNESS. He was enthralled. At last someone was saying things which needed to be said. He read about the ‘Bundle Plan’. “Why don’t you let me have a Bundle, and I will peddle them to the parishioners and whatever profit will go to start an endowment plan —but beyond all that more and more people will understand why we are here at all. So! In addition to the care of the property, he covered the parish every time a WITNESS came along. It found its way into almost every home. Everything was better! It was my good fortune to return to that dear place during the summer of 1987. Is it ever alive and well. The Beavers have long since gone to their Eternal Reward and nobody died building their TOMB!

Dan Corrigan