Marsue Harris

Marsue Harris, 80, an Episcopal priest, departed this life on Sunday, August 16, 2020 after a valiant battle with lymphoma.  She is survived by her beloveds: husband, the Hon. Robin Porter, daughter Laurisa Houseman, son Nicholas Baranyk and his wife Andrea, granddaughters Vivian C. Houseman and Ashley Marie Houseman, also by Robin’s family, R. Carl Porter IV, Chris and Wendy Porter, Sarah and Kevin Bell, Dr. Will Porter, sister-in-law Kathryn Porter, and grandchildren Lily and Rose Bell, Beatrice and Theodora Porter and Christopher and Cooper Porter.

Marsue grew up in Beaver, Pennsylvania, earned a BS from Penn State University in 1961 and left immediately for California where she lived for over 20 years. She worked for Friends Outside in Soledad Prison, moved to Marin County to represent Friends Outside at San Quentin Prison and study for ordination at Church Divinity School of the Pacific (M.Div. 1981). Following ordination to the priesthood by the Rt. Rev. George N. Hunt, Bishop of Rhode Island, she came east in 1982 to serve as the Rhode Island State Council of Churches Protestant Chaplain at the ACI for the next 11 years.  Meanwhile, she served as interim Rector or Priest in Charge of 11 Rhode Island parishes from 1983-2020.  She enjoyed adventures in Episcopal Church life: travelling to Brazil to preach at the ordination of the first woman priest there, as a leader of the women’s presence at Lambeth Conference in England in 1988, as a 5-time deputy to General Convention, as first woman president of the Diocese of Rhode island Standing Committee. She travelled three times to Cuba in the 1990s with Pastors for Peace and the Episcopal Peace Fellowship to take humanitarian aid, to preach at the Havana Cathedral and to lead a women’s retreat. As a Third Order Franciscan novice, she followed in the footsteps of St. Francis on a trip to Assisi and the Umbrian countryside. She was the author and advocate of legislation at General Convention to include Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Jencks Bloomer, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman in the Commemorative Calendar of the Episcopal Church (July 20). She wrote a religion column for the Providence Journal for 18 years, enjoying a lively correspondence with fans and critics alike.

Marsue loved being a grandmother and considered life’s greatest blessing the Biblical one: to live to see one’s children’s children.  She tried to keep life magical for them as long as possible before the meanness of life would intervene.  She enjoyed discussing politics and religion, considered cooking a meditation and was committed to free-range, organic and fair trade food.  She needlepointed her way through two decades. She supported legislation to end medical and cosmetic testing on animals. Her favorite liturgy was the Blessing of the Animals. Memorials in her name may be made to an animal shelter or humane society of your choice or to the Episcopal Church in your neighborhood and she thanks you.

Her Requiem Eucharist will be celebrated privately at sunset in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Wickford. Marsue will be cremated following the funeral and interred privately in the Clergy Section of the Old Narragansett Churchyard. A public memorial service will be held a later date to which relatives & friends are invited.  

Arrangements have been entrusted to the Cranston-Murphy Funeral Home of Wickford. For online messages of condolence, kindly visit www.CranstonMurphy.com

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