RIP: Asa Butterfield

Posted Sep 4, 2013

[St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Guadalajara Mexico] On Monday 2 September 2013 in Guadalajara, Mexico, Padre Asa Van Wormer Butterfield, El Camino Real’s pioneer Hispanic Missioner (1982-1988) died, where as a retired priest, he assisted in preparing candidates for ordination in the Anglican Church of Mexico. “Padre Macario,” as he was know by his pseudonym, had written numerous Spanish articles and  four books which were dedicated to Mexico’s San Andres Seminary in Mexico City, D.F. on themes of pastoral care, evangelism, prayers and socio-political changes in Latin America which impact the contemporary church. Padre Asa was rector of the bilingual parish in the Diocese of Panama, sent by the Overseas Missionary Department when he was called to El Camino Real in 1982 to initiate Spanish speaking ministries. Within three years missions  were established in Saint Paul’s Salinas, Saint Matthias, Seaside, Saint James, Monterey  and Saint Mary’s, Pacific Grove,  where a formidable ecumenical refugee  center was operated for six years to serve the significant numbers of exiled Salvadoran refugees who began to populate the peninsula in 1983. The Episcopal Church soon became the choice of hundreds of Central Americans because of our warm welcome. After 1988 “Padre Macario”  as he became known, served Hispanics in the Diocese of Los Angeles, California, Oklahoma, Costa Rica and Mexico.

Padre Butterfield’s academic studies involved both Latin American and California. After his military service in the Korean War when he served as an infantry Lieutenant, he studied on government scholarships at the University of the Americas in Mexico, D. F. , at Church  Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, and the University of California (Medical Center) in San Francisco, leading to a duo-vocational career which resulted in ordination at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco as an Episcopal priest in 1966 and psychotherapist, licensed by the State (of California) in 1970.

His passion for ethnic ministries led him to serve as an urban (sic) with the founding of a nonprofit corporation called Community of Concern out of Good Samaritan and Saint John’s Evangelist in San Francisco’s Mission District, soon after he founded a second nonprofit for counseling which involved a dozen other practitioners. Never being quite content with the clinical professional model, Father Butterfield chose to call his work “Metapsychology,” in which he insisted that the healing of persons involved the spiritual dimension, a term not customarily amenable to the psychological professional.

During his final years of service as a retired priest/practitioner in the Anglican Church of Mexico he discovered a new profession of writing under his chosen pseudonym “Padre Macario” where he produced numerous articles and four books which were dedicated to the Seminary Library of San Andres in Mexico, D.F. A variety of themes were addressed including pastoral care, evangelism, prayer/mediation techniques as well as socio-political changes that have impacted the Latin American Church.

Father Butterfield leaves a widow, Martha Avila Nuño in Guadalajara, along with numerous step children and grand children. His four biological children from his marriage in Mexico in 1954 to Martha Lozier, now deceased, live in Northern California: Penelope, Daniel, and Sarah Butterfield and François Loziere of Ketchikan, Alaska


Comments (4)

  1. Alda Morgan says:

    I was at seminary with Asa and, over the years, he’d pop up at CDSP from time to time. I remember a gentle man whose gentleness belied the fierce energy and passion his ministry reveals. I’m grateful for that ministry and for having known him even in this small way.

  2. Mark Foote says:

    I knew Asa through his daughter Penelope, and found inspiration in his faith and his ministry, and most strikingly through his open-mindedness. I remember his story of experiencing a presence in a city in Peru, and his belief in a life of service, his enthusiasm for service as the path of devotion. He gives me confidence even now.

  3. Fr Sarge Edwards says:

    I also knew Asa Butterfield in seminary at CDSP. We were part of a group of seminarians who were partakers, at different levels, of the Charismatic Renewal in the Episcopal Church during the infamous 60’s. We formed a weekly prayer meeting in our homes on Friday evenings. We weathered some persecution but we experienced some significant miracles in those meetings. I would say that more than a dozen times, we would leave home for a meeting, with our children sick, and when we went to prayer and worship in the meetings, the children were healed. We even weathered political divisions during a presidential election. One couple was from the hippy parts in San Francisco (way out liberals). We decided to stay away from politics in our meetings, and it worked. One evening my wife Helen was crying because she had learned that her pregnancy was in trouble. The hippy guy had a prophetic word for us during prayer: “Your child is a boy, and your house will be full of joy.” Stephen was born a month later, and he was always, by far, the least trouble or problem of any of our four children.

    Asa Butterfield was a very loving person, and we were sure he would have a unique ministry…. and he did! I wonder what his “mansion” in Paradise looks like….

  4. Roger Clegg says:

    We moved, as a family, in 1965 to Mountain View, California: “Father Ace” was assistant priest. I, at 11 years old, remember feeling a different kind of ‘unconditional love’ and a genuine open-heartedness about this man-without-rigid-boundaries. Four years later, in the Mission District of San Francisco, he was running “some sort of Halfway House’ for heroin addicts; that is where I really saw his unconditional love/metapsychological healing come into play. My older brother had come into some trouble, and was able to seek counsel in Fr. Ace (employing the metapsychological healing), where the fears of approaching our biological father had prevented an ‘immediate-family’ healing

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