I write with a combination of human sadness and resurrection joy to inform you that the Reverend Bill Mahedy, who for many years was a member of this episcopacy, has died. After a long and ultimately debilitating illness, Bill died yesterday, July 20th, at the V.A Medical Center in San Diego. Plans for scheduling The Burial Rite are still pending.
I last spoke with Bill on the afternoon before he died. As I told his son Mike, in our final conversation Bill continued to be lucid and took solace in the opportunities he had to care for "vets." It is no small coincidence that roughly at the time of his dying, within the community of faith that meets for the weekly Eucharist in the Chapel of the Pentagon, we prayed for Bill.
Bill was a friend and mentor to many of us, me included. During the almost 20 years I knew him, I found Bill to be the type of man whom you could immediately identify as a person of quiet and immense significance. I consider Bill to have been the “dean” of wisdom on the subject of the spiritual components of post traumatic stress in military veterans. During his nearly two decades as a Roman Catholic priest he was an Army chaplain for three years, one year of which was spent in Vietnam. For some time Bill had been developing a sense of affection and appreciation for veterans, and his Vietnam chaplaincy experience served to heighten and sharpen that sense. It was during the 1970s that Bill married Carol and also became an Episcopal priest. Simultaneously, Bill went to work for the VA and was instrumental in the establishment of the Vietnam Vet Centers that for years were the storefront connections with wounded warriors from the Vietnam War.
Right up to the time of his death Bill continued to be engaged and was current enough on the subject of the care of combat veterans to be asked by Navy leaders to work in their wounded warrior program. The author of several books, I consider his 1986 volume, Out of the Night: The Spiritual Journey of Vietnam Veterans, to be his seminal work. I approached this book with a “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest” mentality. As a fellow Vietnam veteran. I am keenly aware that those who want to provide effective spiritual care for wounded warriors are well advised to understand what Bill teaches readers of this book.
Please join me in offering prayers the repose of Bill’s soul, and for his wife, Carol and family.
Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Bill Mahedy. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of our own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. AMEN (Commendation prayer of Burial Rite II, The Book of Common Prayer: BCP, p. 499).