The casket of the Most Reverend John M. Dougherty is at the front of the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton during Solemn Vespers on April 25, 2022. (Photo/Mike Melisky)

SCRANTON – Family, friends and former parishioners of the Most Reverend John M. Dougherty joined clergy from the Diocese of Scranton in praying for the eternal repose of the soul of the late Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Scranton on April 25, 2022.

More than 150 people participated in Solemn Vespers at the Cathedral of Saint Peter as the first day of visitation for Bishop Dougherty concluded.

“It seems like this son of God was given to us, like many others who have gone through this world, to remind us we were made not for this world,” Rev. Christopher S. Sahd said during homily.

Father Sahd stressed that Jesus lived in Bishop Dougherty – and as a priest of 65 years – the late bishop knew that to be baptized in Christ also meant to suffer with him.

“He so sought the life of Jesus, the fullness of His power, the holiness of His mysteries, and the perfection of His ways and not ours,” Father Sahd explained.

Rev. Christopher S. Sahd delivers the homily during Solemn Vespers at the Cathedral of Saint Peter on April 25, 2022.

Bishop Dougherty died on April 16 at his family’s home in Scranton. He was 89.

“Let us not fail to pray for him now, so that God, having mercy on his soul, may bring him to the promise he so longed for, so adored in the sacred mysteries,” Father Sahd added. “Bishop Dougherty would be the first to abhor the thought that we would come to this point and not pray for his soul but we also have to thank God for the way that Jesus lived in him.”

Bishop Dougherty was ordained to the priesthood in 1957. His episcopal ordination as Auxiliary Bishop followed in 1995. He is remembered by many for his deep spirituality, pastoral concern and consistent presence in hospitals ministering to the sick and dying.

Father Sahd emphasized that on a nightly basis, Bishop Dougherty would encourage people not only to ask God’s mercy but to thank God for everything that is beautiful and good.

“As we come to the end of this day, we keep vigil tonight,” Father Sahd said. “Every one of us have been a part of a beautiful day of Jesus Christ in the life of God the Father’s beloved son.”