Clad in the bright orange regalia of his office for what he called his last public appearance, retired bishop M. Thomas Shaw said goodbye Saturday to thousands of faithful at the consecration of his successor to lead the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, marking the end of a nearly 20-year tenure during which he fought for social justice and the church’s relevancy.

Shaw, who became bishop in 1995, is succeeded by the Rev. Alan M. Gates, previously a rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland. A Massachusetts native married with two adult sons, Gates cuts a different figure than Shaw, a celibate monk who came out as gay a few years ago. Shaw announced last year that he had cancer and would be stepping down.

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