Kevin Britt, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids has died at the age of 59. Co-workers found Britt at his home Sunday morning after they became worried when he did not return several phone calls. He apparently died sometime during the weekend, said Ned McGrath, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Britt had canceled all his appointments last week because he hadn't been feeling well.
A Detroit native, Britt attended Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, earned a master's degree in religious studies from the University of Detroit, and a master of divinity degree from St. John's Provincial Seminary in Plymouth. He also served as Personal Secretary to Cardinal Edmund Szoka at the Vatican and to the Staff of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See. He then spent nearly a decade as an auxiliary bishop in Detroit before going to Grand Rapids.
He was named coadjutor bishop in Grand Rapids in 2002, where he served with the previous bishop, Robert Rose. In October 2003, Britt took full control of the diocese, which has 102 parishes and represents more than 160,000 Catholics in an 11-county area in southwest Michigan.
“A good shepherd has been called home to God,” said Cardinal Adam Maida, Archbishop of Detroit. “I first met Bishop Britt in Rome, when he served as Cardinal Szoka’s priest secretary,” said the Cardinal. “I came to know his great love for the Church, his commitment to the priesthood, and his evident love of God’s people.”
“Bishop Britt was very personable and self-giving. He had a healthy sense of the needs of
the people and the gifts the Church had to offer to them. He was the embodiment of his
episcopal (bishop) motto ‘kindness, mercy, love.’ It characterized his personality, as well
as his sense of priestly and episcopal ministry,” Cardinal Maida concluded.
Retired Auxiliary Bishop Joseph McKinney said he was stunned by the news of Britt's passing. "We felt we were very, very fortunate to have him," he said. "He didn't have a lazy bone in his body. He was well-received and people were happy to have him."
"We haven't faced something like this in our history that I can recall. A bishop who was very, very active and everything and was suddenly called," he said.
Like other clergy, Britt apologized for his diocese earlier this year after a report was released detailing church-related sexual abuse of minors since 1950.
"On behalf of the diocese, I apologize for the crimes of sexual abuse of minors that has occurred in the past," Britt said in February.