The Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania, along with the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, and the Sisters of Mercy, Erie Regional Community, join in mourning the death of Bishop Donald W. Trautman. Bishop Trautman considered Catholic Sisters to be co-workers with him in the ministry of Christ. He modeled faithfulness to our God and our Church and taught us not to be afraid to speak up for the truth, no matter the cost.
He was an energetic leader in the Church. During his years as chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, the impact he had reverberated through the entire Church, including here in the Erie Diocese.
“We are forever grateful for Bishop Trautman’s work to improve the quality of the liturgy, particularly his efforts to promote inclusive language in the Rites of the Church,” said Mary Drexler, SSJ. “We are indeed saddened but grateful for his efforts to improve the position of women in the Church.”
Bishop Trautman was committed to Vatican Il reform and considered it a gift of the Holy Spirit.
“Bishop Trautman lived in an era of bishops who found themselves between Vatican I with all its rigidity and Vatican II with all its emphasis on renewal. It was not an easy period for anyone, let alone Bishops accustomed to being heard rather than questioned,” recalls Joan Chittister, OSB. “He told me one day that he realized the situation, and I watched him try very hard to both listen and relate. It was a model of responsibility and openness we ALL needed for the time.”
We are grateful for the many years of faithful service he gave to the Erie Diocese, which included the establishment of Catholic Rural Ministry.
“With his financial support and that of the three religious communities (Erie Benedictines, Sisters of St. Joseph, and Sisters of Mercy), Bishop Trautman welcomed the sisters to be a compassionate presence for the people of Potter and McKean counties through the establishment of Catholic Rural Ministries,” said Phyllis Schleicher, OSB. “He supported the vision of having women religious serve in those areas.”
“We are saddened at his passing but consoled by the words of scripture: And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.” Rev. 14:13,” said Mary Ann Bader, RSM. “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Matt. 25:23. You have given to this Diocese for many years and, as you often said in your homilies, “God will not be outdone in generosity.”
“During his tenure as Bishop of Erie, he collaborated with us in our efforts to bring the Gospel into northwest Pennsylvania, dialogued with us about church issues, challenged us, celebrated our jubilees, mourned our losses and was a good friend to us all,” said Nancy Fischer, SSJ, Director of the Office for Religious, Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie.
We mourn Bishop Trautman’s death while giving thanks for the extraordinary gift of his life. Together we pray that his unceasing dedication to work for the common good of the entire Erie Diocesan community continues to positively impact the Church for years to come.