20 January 2012

Priest’s legacy of tolerance is all-embracing

The Buffalo News: Donn Esmonde

They put Father Bill in the ground Wednesday. It was cold January earth. But I would like to think — no, I know — that easing his way down was the warmth and the gratitude of the countless “invisible” people to whom he opened the church doors. Many were God-loving Catholics who were not sure that God loved them back. Father Bill, by word and deed, let them know that He did.

Prostitutes, the homeless, the poor, immigrants, homosexuals — Monsignor William Schwinger welcomed all of them to St. Louis Church. From 1979 to 1995, he presided over a mixed flock on the edge of Allentown.

It was, especially, not an easy time to be homosexual. The epidemic of AIDS cut down friends and lovers, even as society’s cold eye prompted many gays to live a closeted lie. No matter. Everyone was wrapped in his spiritual embrace...


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