Anniversaries are a time to celebrate. Whether it be an anniversary of a community, a wedding, a graduation or an ordination, they are times when memories are awakened and we can recall how good our God has been to us to have seen us or those before us through the various years being celebrated.
This year, I have or will have (within the next few months) the opportunity to celebrate several anniversaries; anniversaries that are special for me. I would just like to share a few thoughts about each beginning with the highest number of years being celebrated to the lowest number (even though that is high in itself).
In June, I had the privilege of celebrating with the Catholic community of Sacred Heart Church in Troy, New York as they celebrated 100 years of being a faith presence in their part of the City of Troy. In addition, the parish school was also celebrating 85 years of its existence and its part in spreading the faith and educating the thousands of children who walked through its doors.
This anniversary had special significance for me since more than 27 percent of my life was involved with Sacred Heart. It began in 1966 when I was hired as one of the organists at the parish's mission church and within a few months I moved to the main church where I served as organist and choir director for twenty years. I also served as the parish administrator for seven months in 2011-12 while the pastor was on sick leave. The anniversary was a wonderful parish celebration that spanned an entire weekend in June, beginning with a Mass celebrated by our diocesan bishop, Bishop Howard Hubbard, at which I was privileged to serve as deacon. The celebration continued the next day with a block party with games, food, and enetertainment. The weekend concluded with a brunch served to about 300 people at one of our local restaurants. It was a great time and I was happy to be a part of it.
The second longest anniversary I will be celebrating covers sixty years. It will be the anniversary of my graduation from high school. Our class of 1953 will hold its 60th reunion in September as we fondly remember our days at Catholic Central High School in Troy, New York. We were educated by priests of the diocese as well as sisters from two congregations - the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondeolet and the Sisters of Mercy. Our graduating class numbered about 210 (and we were one of the smaller classes to graduate in those days). When we gather for our reunion, many stories will be told of our escapades during the four years at Catholic High. I look forward to being with my classmates again.
Two fifty year anniversaries are coming in the fall as well. Ten years after I graduated from high school, I married the love of my life, Carol Willard, and we will be celebrating fifty years of marriage with our family and friends. As I look back on those fifty years, I cannot help by feel intense gratitude to God for giving me such a wonderful life companion (who in my estimation is a living saint - not just because of having put up with me for those years, but for the wonderful things she does to help the needy through her sewing and knitting ability. I wish I could have counted the number of items she has made over the years for those in need - the homeless, those in shelters, children with special needs, etc. I certainly know it has been more than a thousand). Our fifty years have had their difficult times as well: the death of our younger daughter, the loss of employment for me about thirty years ago, and various illnesses that have beset us. We still have with us our two wonderful children - Helen, a great teacher, and Paul, an artist, a specialist in marketing and also a recognized musician. God has truly been good to us.
Finally in October of this year, I will join thousands in our Diocese of Albany as we celebrate fifty years of priestly ordination for our bishop, Bishop Howard Hubbard. Bishop Hubbard has been a friend of mine for over 55 years and he will grace us by celebrating our wedding anniversary Mass. I look forward to congratulating him on this milestone and thanking him for the years of service as both priest and bishop in our diocese. Ad multos annos, Bishop.
Yes, anniversaries are a time for celebration and this year has been special for me because of those milestones I have cited. Life is not always easy but good times like these make us realize how generous and benevolent our God truly is to have given us these events and the people involved in them. May all who celebrate anniversaries this year be blessed.