Fallen Asleep: In Memoriam

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The Rt.  Rev. Philip Martin Daniel Gerboc, IOFM, of Madison, Wisconsin, passed into life eternal on 2 February  2017.

He was born on 19 February 1962 in Cleveland, OH to the late William and Kathleen Cullen Gerboc, the youngest of 4 children.  The child of deaf parents, he attended Catholic schools and participated in his first politically oriented demonstration while in 1st grade, calling for Integration with the Adrian Dominican nuns. In his youth, his family moved to Warrensville Heights, OH and there he joined St. Jude Church, staffed by the OFMs of the Sacred Heart Province. While there, he started a youth group. This group blossomed and grew. Because of the size of the group and the services they provided (feeding the poor, singing at nursing homes, visiting the sick, infirm, and seniors, and financially aiding those in emergency situations,) Phil was appointed to the Bishop’s Council of Youth. He received national recognition by the National CYO, and was the National recipient of the Youth of the Year by the CYO. Upon graduation from high school, he attended Our Lady of the Angels Franciscan seminary of the Sacred Heart, Province of OFMs Quincy University.

Bishop Gerboc organized sweat shops throughout the South, and was active in the fight for the Tenants’ Rights and Human Rights Ordinance in Chicago. He testified before Congress against NAFTA.  Bishop. Gerboc ran countless political campaigns and aided underdog candidates to victory. He was arrested countless times for his Union activity; recently, three times in the same day at the Wisconsin Capitol Building, demonstrating against Scott Walker’s busting of State Workers Union.  These were some of his proudest moments.

He was also one of the first openly gay union staff members, working on Dr. Ron Sable’s Aldermanic Campaign as an openly gay union staff member. He lobbied for the Chicago Civil Rights amendment (LGBT Ordinance) and helped organize the Chicago contingent for the March on Washington for LGBT rights. He was among those responsible for the Chicago Gay bars to boycott Coors beer for their discrimination of the LGBT and unions. He also served as a board member of the Lesbian and Gay Progressives as well as Illinois Public Action and NARAL.  He worked for the Amalgamated Textile Workers Union and negotiated one of the first contracts to recognize “significant others,” which was one of the first union contracts recognizing “significant others” and non-discrimination of sexuality.  He worked for SEIU organizing Hospital workers such as nurses, janitors and med techs. Bishop Gerboc is the Father of the “Living Wage” ordinance that passed in Chicago.

He was ordained to the priesthood 27 May 2012 and was, at the time of his transition, the Vicar General and Bishop-elect of the Diocese of the Great Lakes of the Unified Old Catholic Church. He ministered to the homeless, mentally ill, and poor in Madison, Wisconsin and was known as the “Labor Priest.” He founded The Independent Order of Friars Minor, the Franciscan Order of The Unified Old Catholic Church, as well as the IOFM Third Order.  He was also instrumental in the foundation of the church itself.   Philip was one who fought for the faith, no matter the cost, who stood up for the down-trodden, who continually worked for the betterment of mankind.  He truly exemplified Christ’s command to feed the hungry, to house the homeless, to clothe the naked.
Like his hero, St. Francis, Fr. Phil dedicated his life to service. A dedicated, die hard Franciscan, he could quote the Omnibus at length, at the drop of a hat, ad infinitum.

And like St. Francis, Phil has left us too soon.

Requiescat in Pace.