Robert Rowley, retired bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania, to be laid to rest

January 19, 2010

Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania's seventh bishop, the Rt. Rev. Robert Rowley Jr., 68, will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery after funeral services on Jan. 22. Rowley, of York, Pennsylvania, died Jan. 18 at York Hospital. No cause of death was released. In July 2006 Rowley announced that he was taking a "terminal sabbatical leave," saying in a letter to the diocese that the diocesan Standing Committee proposed the idea of a terminal sabbatical because it was concerned that "if I continued to serve as diocesan bishop that my physical health would be impacted." His leave concluded Aug. 31, 2007, a date Rowley had previously announced as his retirement date. Born July 6, 1941, Rowley was a lawyer before he earned a master of divinity degree from the Seminary of the Southwest in 1977. Prior to his ordination, he served for more than 26 years as a judge advocate in the United States Navy and Navy Reserve, retiring with the rank of captain in 1992. He specialized in international law. Rowley was ordained deacon in June 1977 and priest in January 1978. He was consecrated bishop in May 1989 and served as coadjutor until 1991 when he became the diocesan bishop. Rowley served on the Presiding Bishop's Council of Advice from 1993 to 2002, and was president of Province III of the Episcopal Church during the same period. He was one of the nominees for presiding bishop in 1997, when Frank Griswold was elected. Rowley ordained Northwestern Pennsylvania's current bishop and his successor, the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe, as a deacon and priest in 2000. The bishop is survived by his wife Nancy (Roland) Rowley, a daughter, a son and five grandchildren. Funeral services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Episcopal Church of Saint John the Baptist in York, with Diocese of Central Pennsylvania Bishop Nathan Baxter and the Rev. Dr. David Robson, rector of Saint Andrews Episcopal Church, York, officiating. The diocese consists of about 4,100 Episcopalians worshipping in 34 congregations.