It has been about three months since I sat at this keyboard and posted a blog. But these three months have been filled with both joyous events and situations that have caused alarm at both an international and national level. I decided just to comment on these events and happenings as I return to the world of blogging.
There were four very happy occasions that took place during this time. On September 7, my wife and I celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary. My life has truly been blessed with the support and companionship of my beautiful wife and the gifts of our three children. We celebrated the event at my home parish of St. Michael the Archangel in Troy, New York with a Mass celebrated by our bishop and good friend, Bishop Howard Hubbard of the Diocese of Albany. Following the Mass we broke bread with about eighty of our family and friends who came to congratulate us. God has been very good to us during our fifty years. Like all families, we have had great moments of joy as well as moments of sorrow, the greatest of which was the death of our younger daughter, Christine, in February of this year. I know she was celebrating with us in her new home in heaven.
A week after our wedding anniversary celebration, I attended the sixtieth anniversary reunion of our high school graduating class from Catholic Central High School in Troy, New York. About sixty of our classmates attended and we shared many stories about the good times we had at Catholic High.
Our daughter Christine suffered with a disability known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease - a neurological disorder for which she had to wear braces for walking and limited her abilities to the point that she could no longer be gainfully employed. CMT is not a life-threatening disease but obviously carries with it a weakening of the human system. Christine died at the age of 41 from an inflammation of the heart muscle. To honor her, we scheduled a memorial concert held on October 6 in Troy at which one of her favorite musical groups - One Man Short, an a cappella men's group - performed. Her older brother, Paul, is the coordinator of the group. They provided the listening audience with a wonderful musical program. We offered four of Christine's original art works at a raffle and together with the admission cost for the concert, we raised over $1,700 for the CMT national association.
The last great event took place on October 20 when I had the privilege of assisting as deacon at the Mass celebrating fifty years of priesthood for our bishop, Bishop Howard Hubbard, who will turn 75 next week and will submit his resignation to the Vatican after serving the diocese as its bishop for 36+ years. It was a wonderful celebration and tribute for a man so dedicated to the Church and who has been such a compassionate shepherd for the people of the diocese.
During this three month period, there were two events that caused consternation, anxiety and anger. First we had the use of chemical weapons against the people of Syria. The Syrian regime was charged with their use although it denied this. Nevertheless, the pictures coming out of Syria at that time were greatly disturbing. There was, for a time, the threat of some type of military strike by the United States against the regime. The international community, through the United Nations, was finally able to broker an agreement that would see the chemical weapons stockpile in Syria to be destroyed over the next several months. Prayers are still needed for the beleagured people of that country, still embroiled in a civil war.
Here in the United States a few weeks ago, we had a partial shutdown of the government because of the failure to pass a buget resolution that would continue to fund the government. This shutdown, which saw thousands of federal workers furloughed and the closing of all national parks, museums, etc., caused anger among the people of the country. There are differing opinions as to who was really to blame for all of this and I have my own opinion. I will not share it here as I do not want this blog to become a target for comments, some of which could be caustic. I will just say that the shutdown need not have happened and the representatives who are elected by the people need to realize that they are elected to serve the people and not just political agendas.
Finally, an upbeat note. All during this time we have had Pope Francis. This wonderful pastoral leader has struck a chord in the hearts of many and not just Catholics. His humility and his openness to people are greatly admired and appreciated. May God grant him a good and healthy life and time to carry on the work of the Church in the world.
So, what's been happening? A lot as you can see. I was glad to be part of so many of these events and I am glad to be back at the keyboard. See you next time.