As we come again to another annual celebration of Thanksgiving Day, I wanted to share some of my thoughts as to those for whom I must give thanks this year. I want to thank:
1) Almighty God who has brought me into existence, has loved me and nurtured me throughout my life and has blessed me with a call to service in his Church;
2) my family - my wife, Carol, who has been a constant source of love and support to me throughout our 47 years of marriage and who in my belief is a living saint (not just because she has had to put up with me) because of her loving concern for the less fortunate and for the hours she spends sewing and making many articles for those in need and who has begun three groups of ladies in three different parishes to use their talents in knitting and crocheting to benefit the needy; - my children: Helen who has exhibited for me the need for perseverance as we face the various challenges in life and for her dedication to those whom she serves as a teacher; - Paul whose talent is evident in his daily work (and he works extremely hard) and in his love for music and the way he uses his musical talent to benefit others particularly in the Church; - Christine who while facing a number of adversities in her life always shines through with her great sense of humor and caring concern for others. To this group of family I must add my thanks for a hard-working daughter-in-law, Joanne, and for my two wonderful grandchildren - Jessica and Julia. Only grandparents can really appreciate what it means to have these young ones about you. My thanks to all the rest of my extended family - cousins both here in the United States and abroad. May we always stay connected;
3) my Church into whose service I was ordained as a deacon 16 years ago. The Church is made up of saints and sinners and has its share of problems - some quite serious. But for me the Church is home; I could not think of being apart from the community of disciples we call Church;
4) my brothers in the diaconate and the presbyterate; it is a joy to know I am a part of such a wonderful fraternity of men who give their lives in service to others. I also thank the wives of our deacons whose love and support and the use of their own gifts in ministry make them true witnesses to what it means to be Church;
5) my bishop, Howard Hubbard, who has been not only a great shepherd but a wonderful friend;
6) those communities where I have had the privilege of serving in my diaconal ministry: the many friends I made while serving the community of St. Margaret Mary in Albany (now All Saints Catholic Church); the wonderful people who make up the parish of Our Lady of Grace in Ballston Lake where I had the privilege of serving as pastoral leader for four years; I especially wish to thank the hard working and dedicated staff of Our Lady of Grace who made my role so easy to carry out;
7) the communities where I now have the privilege of serving: my new home parish of St. Michael the Archangel in Troy - a vibrant parish community with a remarkable parish leader, Sr. Kate Arseneau; and the good people of St. Matthew's in Voorheesville where I have the chance periodically to break open the word, and with a special thanks to the pastor - Fr. Tom Chevalier - a good friend;
8) and finally, my country: We live in difficult times and we are blessed to be citizens of this great nation. But we always need to be aware that national greatness can succumb to pride and forgetfulness of those who need our care and concern. The last national election was an example of how fractured and polarized we have become as a nation. While everyone has the right to his/her political views and how the country should approach its many problems, we need to find a common ground where we can put aside pettiness and recrimination. Our country needs to be united as it faces its problems. We pray that the leaders of our nation will see that it is the people they serve and not their own interests. Having said all this, I am still thankful that I live in a country where free expression of one's views can be heard without penalty. May God continue to bless the United States of America.
This is my list of thank-yous. I pray that our good God will bless all of those for whom I have given thanks this year.