Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Tuesday 27 July |
Saint of the Day: St. Simeon Sylites

Attention Must Be Paid: The Obituary of a Man on Death Row

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 04/17/16

From The Miami Herald, the posthumous story of Joshua Daniel Bishop, executed last month for murder:

An obituary is an all-but-unheard-of rarity for any prisoner, much less one who’d faced lethal injection. But Bishop’s, an eight-paragraph recap of his life, was printed in the local section of last Sunday’s Telegraph – next to obits for an Army veteran who died at 81 and a Baptist church secretary who lived to 94. It was written by one of his lawyers, who as fate would have it had been a sixth-grade classmate of his at Tinsley Elementary School in Macon in the late 1980s. The obituary notes Bishop’s “Dickensian childhood.” It mentions how as a boy he scrounged for food, for green tomatoes to fry – ones that had been “left out for trash by families who had more than they needed.” The write-up also tells of Bishop’s drug use and drinking and the “horrible mistakes” they spawned: “His addiction, and what came of it, cost him his life, and he wanted youth growing up in similar circumstances to learn from his story.” It goes on to mention how he “grew up under bridges in Milledgeville” and how in prison he was baptized as a Catholic and learned “no one is beyond the reach of forgiveness.” It further notes how Bishop had become an accomplished artist and, perhaps most poignantly, it recalls his final moments: “In his last hours, Josh comforted his friends, prayed with us, reminded us to take care of one another, and sang ‘Amazing Grace.’ He hoped that his death would ‘take away from the pain and add to the peace’ of those he had hurt. His continued concern for the suffering of others while he faced the ultimate penalty showed that the evil the State wanted to stamp out was not there, and all that was lost was the potential of a redeemed soul to do good. If there is justice in heaven, if not on earth, he is painting with Rembrandt and humming along with Merle Haggard.” Attorney Sarah Gerwig-Moore, the obit’s author, said, “I wrote it while I was crying as a way to process my grief.”

Read it all. 

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Philip Kosloski
This morning prayer is easy to memorize
Daniel Esparza
5 Curious things you might not know about Catholicism
Joachim and Anne
Philip Kosloski
Did Jesus know his grandparents?
J-P Mauro
Reconstructing a 12th-century pipe organ discovered in the Holy L...
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been know...
Cerith Gardiner
5 Ways grandparents impact our lives for the better
Sarah Robsdottir
What we can learn from Elon Musk’s housing decisions
See More