January 18: +William Paret (1911)

When the Rev. William Paret visited Washington in 1876 to discuss a possible call from what he considered to be “one of the most important parishes in the land,” he asked the assembled vestrymen what the Church of the Epiphany was doing for its poor. Their answer was, “they had no poor, every pew was let.” In that case, Paret responded, he could not come, since he believed “a church without any poor was too spiritually poor to be useful.”  After reflection by the vestry and assurances of change, Paret agreed to become Epiphany’s fifth rector. Over the next nine years, change did occur. Epiphany’s doors were opened during the week. More services were free. A chapel was opened in SW Washington to serve the poorer part of the parish. Numerous baptisms of destitute children were performed at Columbia and Freedman’s Hospital. A newsletter was started to keep the parish informed of activities.


In 1884, Paret was unexpectedly elected bishop of Maryland. His four-hour consecration service took place at Epiphany. During his episcopate, Paret returned often. On several occasions he was at Epiphany to baptize a new grandchild and most notably in 1895 to preside over the Maryland Diocesan Convention that voted to create the new Diocese of Washington. Towards the end of his life, the good bishop was seeking a place for his family to be buried. Remembering his fondness for Epiphany, Paret purchased some cemetery lots from the vestry and today Bishop William Paret and members of his family rest under the oaks in the Epiphany plot at Rock Creek Cemetery.

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