The Reverend Canon Doctor John Harrison Heidt SSC
BA, BD, MDiv, BLitt, Phd, DD
April 5, 1932 – October 23, 2009
The Reverend Canon John H. Heidt was born in 1932 in Madison, Wisconsin, and was raised in Milwaukee. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University in 1954, he studied at Nashotah House, earning Bachelor of Divinity and Master of Divinity degrees. Through subsequent studies at Oxford University, he earned a Bachelor of Letters degree and Doctorate. Nashotah House awarded Father Heidt an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in October, 2009, shortly before his death on October 23 this year.
After ordination to the diaconate in 1957, Fr. Heidt served Christ Church, New Haven, Connecticut; St. Mary's Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and St. Barnabas Church, Denton, Texas. In 1964, he married Katherine Jago Preston, and relocated from Texas to Keble College, Oxford. During his three years there, Fr. Heidt became friends with Austin Farrer and Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis's personal secretary. Also, he served as assistant chaplain of Keble College and assisted at St. Mary Magdalene, at that time a noted Anglo-Catholic shrine. In 1967, he received a Bachelor of Letters degree for a study of "The Meditorial Nature of Sacramental Priesthood," in which he argued that the ordained priest was himself a walking sacrament.
In 1968, Fr. Heidt accepted a call as episcopal chaplain at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and taught on the faculty of Marquette University. In the Diocese of Milwaukee, he was a residentiary canon of All Saints' Cathedral, examining chaplain to the bishop, chairman of the Diocesan Commission on Urban Affairs, president of the Diocesan Clergy Association, and a member of the diocesan Departments of College Work, Christian Social Relations and Evangelism.
In 1972, he returned to England for more advanced study, this time staying for 18 years. For his dissertation, "The Social Doctrine of Henry Scott Holland," Fr. Heidt was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree. Michael Ramsey was one of his examiners. During this time he served as assistant priest of St. Mary Magdalene, co-founded the Christian World newspaper with Dr. William Oddie, and took an active role in the English Church Union and the founding of the Catholic Renewal movement.
In 1980, Fr. Heidt became Vicar of SS. Philip and James in Up Hatherley, Cheltenham, where he remained for 16 years. In his years at that church, he helped triple the parish size, held a parish mission in the presence of Princess Margaret, introduced the Cursillo Movement to England, and held weekends for unchurched young people. He also celebrated an annual requiem mass with the fans of Brian Jones, founding member of the Rolling Stones.
While in England, he became a member of the Society of the Holy Cross and a Benedictine oblate of Alton Abbey. He lectured in pastoral theology at the Gloucester School of Ministry and was a member of the Cheltenham Deanery Standing Committee. Both he and his wife, Katherine (a sometime member of the Church of England's General Synod), worked tirelessly for catholic orthodoxy, helping to found Cost of Conscience (later Forward in Faith) and Women Against the Ordination of Women.
The Heidts returned to the United States in 1996, when Fr. Heidt accepted a call as rector of Christ Church in Dallas, where he began a lively Hispanic ministry. In the Diocese of Dallas, Fr. Heidt served on the Executive Council and as chairman of the Education Committee, and also as chairman of the Theology Department of the Anglican School of Theology and a member of its Board of Trustees.
He retired in 2003 and accepted the appointment as canon theologian for the Diocese of Fort Worth. Canon Heidt was a prolific writer and author and served as editor of the bimonthly magazine, Forward in Christ. On Friday, October 23, 2009, God called his faithful servant home.
Fr. Heidt was a faithful, energetic and at times eccentric priest, who had a great passion for the Faith and the cure of souls. He was also a kind and generous -hearted man, a loving Father, husband and pastor. He is survived by his wife Katherine, his sons Michael and Christopher, and three daughters, Elizabeth, Katherine and Teresa. May God receive him into the arms of His mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light.