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IN MEMORIAM: Cor-bishop Michael J. Birnie

On January 6, 2013 the Very Reverend Cor-bishop Michael James Dennison Birnie, senior parish priest of St. Thomas parish in Seattle, Washington, was called to rest by the Lord. 

The late Cor-bishop Michael Birnie was born on August 13, 1940 in Lincoln, Nebraska to his parents Sylvia Helen Wilson and Charles Elwood Dennison. Fr. Birnie was the second child of four: Wallace Birnie, Ruth Birnie Hedman (†2011) and Charles Birnie. In 1952, he was adopted by the late David Birnie.

On November 17, 1960 Fr. Birnie married Patricia Belle White, and they were blessed with two sons: the late Shamasha Bennett James Birnie (March 20, 1962 – September 29, 2012) and David Michael Birnie (born on December 24, 1965). Fr. Birnie and Pat later added to their family their niece Sterling Elizabeth White (June 28, 1988), whom they received into the family as their daughter.

On March 24, 1968 the late His Holiness Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII, Catholicos-Patriarch (†1975) ordained Fr. Birnie to the priesthood at Mar Narsai parish, San Francisco, California. Fr. Birnie was later elevated to the rank of Cor-bishop by the late Catholicos-Patriarch on January 12, 1975 at St. Thomas parish, Seattle, Washington.

Fr. Birnie served St. Thomas parish in Seattle until his death. He is survived by his wife of almost 53 years, Pat Birnie, and his brothers Wallace and Charles (Chuck) Birnie. Fr. Birnie was engaged in many translation projects that brought to light the works of the fathers of the Church of the East from the original Aramaic into English; the printing of a number of these is forthcoming. The late Cor-bishop Michael Birnie will be remembered not only by the faithful at St. Thomas in Seattle, but in the Diocese of California at large.

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