Bishop M. Thomas Shaw of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts successfully underwent surgery Friday to remove a mass discovered on his brain, according to the diocese.
Shaw, who announced in January his plan to retire next year , had the surgery Friday afternoon after tests Thursday revealed the mass, the diocese said in a post on its website.
“It went well, and there were no complications,” said Tracy Sukraw, communications director for the diocese. “It will be a week or so before we know whether further treatment will be necessary.”
Sukraw declined to name the hospital because the bishop asked not to have visitors, calls, or e-mails.
The Rev. Mally Lloyd spent time with Shaw before his surgery at the hospital.
“Bishop Tom and all of us feel the unexpectedness of this, but please know that he has confidence in his doctors and was well prepared for the surgery,” Lloyd posted on the website.
Shaw “was in good spirits, was engaged with the ongoing matters of diocesan life and, as always, his faith and confidence were contagious,” she wrote.
Shaw, 67, will have served two decades as bishop by his retirement in 2014.
He is a monk who lives in a small cell at the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Cambridge, and has become known for his advocacy regarding economic issues, social justice, and peace, working toward ending gun violence, and advocating for gay rights.
Shaw has helped lead the diocese through conflict, including the controversy over the Episcopal Church’s first gay bishop and gay unions. Shaw announced last year that he himself is gay.
Once the news spread of his surgery Friday, religious leaders around the state sent their prayers and wished the bishop a quick and easy recovery.
Bishop Doug Fisher, the leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, said he was saddened to hear about Shaw’s situation.
“We’re all praying for him throughout New England,” he said.
“Tom is a great friend and a great voice for social justice,” Fisher said. “He’s a great leader and a great presence in Massachusetts; that’s for sure.”
The two worked together in the past month, and Fisher said that Shaw was at times fatigued but had shown no signs of any health problems.
“He was probably tired because he works tremendously hard,” he said. “But that’s not unusual for a person in a leadership role.”
The Rev. Laura Everett, executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, has worked with Shaw in the past and said she was taken aback by the news of the surgery.
“This was stunning news, and I think many of us are deeply concerned about Bishop Shaw,” said Everett. “Bishop Shaw is a man of deep faith. The words of the church run deep through his life. “I’m trusting that those years of praying in the monastery, in the church . . . are the same words that sustain him now. Church leaders across Massachusetts are praying for him.”