Bishop James R. Hiles, servant of the Lord, age 93. May 1, 1928 – October 23, 2021.
His storied life is celebrated by his wife Lauretta, three sons Marcus, Matthew and David, daughter Elisabeth, and eight grandchildren, James, Natalie, Meredith, Elizabeth, Victoria, Henry, Lukas and Nicholas. Born along the railroad in the small town of Dawson, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh, the Bishop was the second youngest of nine children. His early life consisted of swimming in the river, making rafts and jumping freight trains. Losing his father at the early age of three, the Bishop knew that one day his life would center around always being there for his family and children.
At the age of 17 the Bishop enlisted for two years in the U. S. Marines. As a sharp shooter, the Bishop served in World War II. After discharge, the Bishop received a football scholarship to play football for West Virginia before ultimately earning his bachelors from Washington and Jefferson. While in college, the Bishop worked for the Baltimore & Ohio railroad when he met his beautiful wife Lauretta. Together, they moved to Boston where they both attended Boston University and the Bishop earned his Masters in Divinity. He later earned a Ph.D in Old Testament Theology from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.
The Bishop’s first position in the Church was as an Assistant Minister at Trinity Episcopal Church in Copley Square, Boston. He was a Professor of Religion at Wellesley College, and Gordon Conwell Seminary. He became the Rector of St. Paul’s parish in Brockton in 1975.
In 1976 the Bishop established the Evening School of Christian Studies, at St. Paul’s parish, the first such school at a parish level in the Diocese. Drawing on Professors from Boston College, Boston University and Gordon-Conwell Seminary, where he had taught, the courses covered biblical studies, New Testament History and Christian thought on current moral issues. From the study and prayer arising out of the Evening School, the Bishop established St. Paul’s Kitchen in 1982. Over its 14 year history, the Kitchen, served over 2.2 million meals, 6 days a week, to the hungry in Brockton. It involved volunteers from every denomination throughout the region.
In 1988, with a bequest from an Irish-American benefactor to the Church of our Saviour, Milton, the Bishop devised an innovative conference in the U.S. for dialogue between the Christian leaders of the four major denominations in Northern Ireland. Returning to the US in 1993, the unprecedented dialogue among the prelates, thought impossible in Northern Island, stirred new thinking between the prelates which, in turn, ignited changes that brought about the historic 1998 Good Friday Accords, ending the era of violence in the north of Ireland.
The Bishop has been an exemplar for serving both one’s faith and one’s family. He never missed a sporting event or school event for his children, emboldening into them a permanent sense of commitment and loyalty. His later years brought about much travel with his children, and the same sense of devotion to his grandchildren. Over much of the last decade, the Bishop could be seen at baseball games and school events for his two youngest grandchildren. He never stopped.
The Bishop bookended his life on earth with a trip to St. Moritz, Switzerland this past August with his Sons and Grandsons, and attending a Bishop’s Conference in Atlanta, Georgia just three short weeks ago. He preached his last sermon thirteen days before he went to heaven, working right up until the end. But his work on earth is now done, and he is finally home. His legacy of humility, hard work, grit, perseverance, loyalty, and commitment to God, will be proudly carried on by his wife, children and grandchildren. Please join us in celebrating a truly remarkable man with an extraordinary life.
Flowers may be sent to the funeral home or donations can be sent to St. Paul’s Parish in Brockton.
Visitation will be held in the Conley Funeral Home, 138 Belmont Street, (Rte 123) Brockton, Friday October 29, 5pm – 7pm
Funeral Service at St. Paul’s Parish, 701 Pleasant Street, Brockton, Saturday October 30, at 10:30am, followed by burial in Milton Cemetery, 211 Centre Street, Milton. Immediately following the burial, a reception will be held from approximately 1pm – 4pm, at the Marriott Quincy, 1000 Marriott Drive, Quincy.