Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, one of MCHR’s co-founders, is celebrating his 90th birthday this month.
Along with Episcopal Bishop H. Coleman McGehee, Jr. and Rabbi Richard Hertz, he was a co-founder of MCHR in 1980. The trio of committed activists created it as a forum to discuss and act on racism, unemployment, sexism, militarism and economic justice.
Since then, Bishop Gumbleton and MCHR have continued to speak out and engage with other groups and individuals to defend human rights in Michigan, the U.S. and around the world.
“I first met Bishop Gumbleton in 1967 at a presentation he was giving at UD/Mercy,” said Rudy Simons, a fellow activist and long-time MCHR member. “His words and demeanor impressed me immediately and I sought him out after the meeting.”
Simons and Bishop Gumbleton soon struck-up a friendship based on their mutual commitment to defending human rights and promoting peace that has endured over 50 years.
“I was fortunate enough to travel abroad with him seven times on peace missions to several countries. When we visited El Salvador and I was amazed that he seemed to know everybody and everybody there knew and respected him,” said Simons.
“He was the major voice for peace in the Catholic Church and globally — and he taught me how to use my voice and presence to make a difference,” said Simons.
Born in Detroit in 1930, Gumbleton attended Sacred Heart Seminary High School and later Sacred Heart Seminary.
Ordained to the priesthood in 1956, he has since served the Archdiocese of Detroit and oppressed people everywhere.
Gumbleton was also the founding president of Pax Christi USA, an organization devoted to promoting peace.
Over the course of his remarkable life, he has travelled extensively, given speeches and participated in prayer vigils and made numerous radio and television appearances in defense of human rights.
“Bishop Gumbleton has devoted his life to human rights and been a role model and inspiration for activists everywhere,” said Cary McGehee, chair of MCHR’s Board of Directors.
All of us at MCHR wish Bishop Gumbleton a happy birthday and thank him for his decades of leadership and inspiration in advocating for world peace and human rights.