Bishop Dan Herzog, well–known to many in the diocese of Down and Dromore, departed this world on 4 August 2023. Dan had suffered a long and sometimes painful battle with neurosarcoidosis. He died at the age of 82.
Liz and I met Dan and Carol at a SOMA conference preceding the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Dan and I had just recently been consecrated bishops, and we found an immediate and strange affinity. Dan came from the very Anglo–Catholic diocese of Albany in New York State, and I was from the more low church diocese of Down and Dromore, but our hearts beat with the same passions: a passion for the Word of God, for evangelism and for growing Spirit–filled churches. That was to be the beginning of a 20–year link which blessed so many on both sides of the Atlantic.
Those who met Dan will remember him for his enthusiasm, humour, honesty and intelligence, along with many other things. He was quite the extrovert, and never minded being asked to speak at the drop of a hat. His love for Ireland came partly from having a Catholic mother with Irish roots but he also grew up near the Canadian border, where Protestantism and even Orange lodges were well known. He was always up to date with the politics of this island. Dan and Carol visited us so often (clergy conferences, Summer Madness, preaching, St Patrick’s Days, Diocesan Synods, etc) that neither of us could begin to count the number of times. In his last six months, he said that Ireland was the only place he longed to travel to again.
Bishop Dan lived through an extraordinarily difficult time in the Episcopal Church. It was not easy to lead a largely conservative diocese in a church which was becoming increasingly liberal both in doctrine and in ethics. He resisted with all his might but found twice over that TEC was no longer his home. For a short period he returned to the Roman Catholic Church, but died as a member of the Anglican Church in North America, having planted a new church of that denomination at 80 years of age.
In June, knowing that Dan was probably nearing the end, I asked if there was anything I could do, and he invited me to come to see him one more time. I did that, just a week before he died. Those were precious days. His mind was as sharp as a razor, heightened by the fact that his body was so weak; his humour was the same as ever; his honesty in speaking about death was wonderful; and his faith in Jesus Christ and the Gospel was firm and unwavering.
In my last hour with him, after reading the Prayers of Preparation for Death from the Book of Common Prayer, I also offered him the last verse of the hymn ‘O sacred head’:
Be thou my consolation
my shield when I must die,
remind me of thy passion
when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold thee,
upon thy cross shall dwell,
my heart by faith enfold thee;
who dieth thus, dies well.
Dan and I never agreed about prayers for the departed. He used to say that I would be better to go first, because he would pray for my soul, whereas if he went first, I wouldn’t pray for his!
Well, our last words were glorious. I said ‘Dan, this is the last time we will meet in this world; the next time we will meet in glory.’ ‘We will!’ he declared!
And I say ‘Amen’ to that. We declared with full assurance that he who is in Christ rests in peace and will rise in glory.
I don’t think I will ever see the like of Bishop Dan Herzog again. Thank God for giving him to us. Please pray for his wife Carol, and the family as they face their loss, that they may know the peace and presence of the Lord he served.