New London - The Rev. Emmett Jarrett, TSSF, 71, of St. Francis House, 30 Broad St., New London, died there at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010, surrounded by his family and the St. Francis House residential community. He had been diagnosed with bile duct cancer in December 2008, and undergone two rounds of treatment before the cancer took increasing control of his liver. He continued to live a life of love and service to the community exemplified by his work with the Homeless Hospitality Center, the Voluntown Peace Trust, and his participation in the ongoing life of St. Francis House.
Fr. Emmett was born in Alexandria, La., on Feb. 21, 1939. He attended local public schools and after flunking out of Florida State University served in the U.S. Army from 1959 to 1962. He worked his way through Columbia University discovering his vocation as a poet and wrote his honors thesis on "William Carlos Williams American Meter." He taught English in Crete from 1966 to 67, wrote a study guide to Shakespeare's "Hamlet", and continued writing poetry. On his return to the United States in 1967, he helped found Hanging Loose Press, published several books of poetry including, "Greek Feet", "God's Body", and "4-Telling" with Marge Piercy, Dick Lourie, and Bob Hershon and in 1969 was included in the anthologies, "31 New American Poets and New Directions 21." During this time he taught in the Humanities Department of St. Ann's School in Brooklyn, N.Y. After "meeting Jesus on the Taconic State Parkway," he attended the General Theological Seminary in New York City and was ordained deacon and priest by Bishop Sherman of Long Island in 1976. He served his curacy at St. Stephen's, Westminster, London, while working on a doctorate at Kings College on "The Theology of William Blake." Later he served Episcopal churches as rector of St. John's, Bowdoin St., Boston, Church of the Ascension, Silver Spring, Md., and St. Michael and All Angels, Stone Mountain, Ga.
He and his wife of 27 years, Anne Scheibner, met as staff to the Brooklyn Urban Hearings on "The Role of the Church in the City" in 1980. Fr. Emmett served as national president of the Episcopal Urban Caucus from 1992 to 1995. He edited two EUC publications: "For The Living of These Days: Reflections on the Rule of Life of the EUC" and "To Heal the Sin-Sick Soul: Toward a Spirituality of Anti-Racist Ministry." After he became a member of the Third Order of the Society of Saint Francis (TSSF), he and Anne returned with their children, then ages 14 and 10, to Anne's home region of southeastern Connecticut in 1999. Their intention was to try an experiment in "intentional Christian community" which became St. Francis House at 30 Broad Street in New London: "a place of prayer, a house of hospitality and a center for peace and justice ministry."
In 2005 a new collection of Fr. Emmett's poetry, "Wild Geese Flying South" was published by St. Francis House's Jubilee Publications. Last week "Broad Street Blues: A Reader in Radical Discipleship", which he co-edited with Sarah Jarrett arrived from the printers. Broad Street Blues chronicles the development of the ministry at St. Francis House. Modeled in part on Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, and the Catholic Worker movement and starting with the idea of listening to and engaging with neighbors, the work of St. Francis House takes shape with different members of the House engaging in various endeavors.
In the winter of 2003 Fr. Emmett helped organize support for opening the winter emergency shelter in December instead of waiting until January 1. In response to the City of New London's shutting down the Social Services Department in 2005 and Bill Walsh dying in the woods on the New London-Waterford boundary in 2006, Fr. Emmett convened the Task Force which led to the formation of the Homeless Hospitality Center and the provision of year-round shelter and support for those seeking a way out of homelessness. He was a founding member of the HHC board.
With the Rev. Eric Swanfeldt of Uncasville and other walkers, Fr. Emmett participated in three of the now annual Peace Pilgrimages starting in 2006 and walking between 270 and 800 miles each year. In 2008 he gave the closing statement at his trial as one of 34 defendents arrested for their Guantanamo witness at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. He was a regular participant in the Saturday Peace Vigil of the Southeastern Connecticut Peace and Justice Network and an active participant in the Mock Terror Attack resistance in New London in 2005 when $16 million was spent by the Department of Homeland Security to simulate a chemical warfare attack on New London.
He is survived by his wife, Anne Scheibner, their son, Nathaniel and daughter-in-law, Zuleika Fareaux Jarrett, of Charlotte, N.C., and their daughter, Sarah Jarrett of New London; his mother, Virginia Jarrett of Alexandria, La.; a sister, Beverly Jarrett Mills of Addis, La.; and nieces, Sarah Gibson and her husband, Joe, and Aimee Blount and their families.
A vigil service for the reception of the body will take place at 7 p.m. Wedensday, Oct. 13, at St. James Episcopal Church, Huntington St., New London. The funeral will be in the church at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 14. Burial in Cedar Grove Cemetery, New London, will immediately follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Homeless Hospitality Center/St. James Shelter, the Voluntown Peace Trust, or St. Francis House and sent c/o St. Francis House, PO Box 2171, New London CT 06320.
Byles Memorial Home, 99 Huntington St., New London, is assisting with the arrangements.
Please visit www.Byles.com
for directions or to sign the online guestbook.
Published by The Day on Oct. 12, 2010.