Monday, February 17, 2014

A Tale of Two Bishops

This has been an exiting week for our Diocese of Albany, New York.  Just a few days ago, it was announced that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, had named a new bishop for the diocese to succeed our retiring bishop.  I would just like to share a few thoughts about each of these men.
Bishop Howard J. Hubbard
In 1977, Pope Paul VI named a local priest of our diocese, Howard J. Hubbard, to be the ninth bishop of the Albany Diocese.  The new bishop was the youngest bishop in the country at the time and grew up in Troy, New York.  I had the privilege of getting to know Howard when we were seminary students together and it has been a wonderful friendship.  For the past thirty-seven years, he has also been my bishop.  Almost twenty years ago, I was privileged to have him ordain me to the diaconate for the diocese.  Bishop Hubbard has served the faithful of the diocese well during some very trying and challenging times in our Church.  When he reached the mandatory retirement age for bishops at 75 this past fall, he submitted his resignation and the diocese awaited the announcement of his replacement.  I know that Bishop Hubbard will continue to serve the people in the diocese in whatever way he can to assist his successor.  It is my hope that he has a chance to relax and enjoy his retirement and that God will continue to give him good health.
Bishop-elect Edward Scharfenberger
When I read my e-mail early one morning last week, I was surprised to hear that Pope Francis had named a new bishop for the diocese.  Immediately, everyone began to wonder who this person was and when he would become the tenth bishop of the diocese.  Bishop-elect Scharfenberger is a native of Brooklyn and has served the Brooklyn Diocese in a number of capacities.  He is a civil and canon lawyer, a linguist, a scholar, but above all a pastor.  It is this pastoral experience that will help him guide the over 330,000 faithful in 127 parishes through this fourteen county diocese that ecompasses an area of over 10,000 square miles.  In speaking with a deacon colleague in the Brooklyn Diocese, I was told that we were getting a "fine priest" as our new bishop and that we would be blessed by his presence among us.  A deacon is ordained to serve his bishop and I look forward to assisting the new bishop in any way that I can.  The prayers of the people of our diocese go with Bishop-elect Scharfenberger who will be ordained and installed as our bishop on April 10.

May God grant good health and many blessings for these two fine men who have so nobly and faithfully served our Church.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What Retirement?

We often hear people who have retired say that they are busier than when they were working for a living.  When one thinks about retirement, thoughts of being able to relax, read books or watch unending hours of television with no particular cares might cross one's mind.  I have found, however, that this image of retirement, at least for me, has never been the case.
I have officially "retired" twice in my life.  The first was when I left employment with the State of New York in 1994 after almost thirty years of government service.  In 2006, I was appointed by my bishop to be the parish leader of a suburban parish in our diocese.  I retired from that position in 2010.  Since then, what has retirement been like?
For myself, just sitting around taking it easy would bore me to death.  Unfortunately, my physical well-being has not kept up with my mental well-being.  Arthritis has become increasingly more difficult for me but my keeping busy in a variety of ways keeps my mental well-being strong (at least I hope so).
As an ordained deacon in the Church, most of what I do to keep busy has to do with the Church.  I have been privileged to serve on two committees in our diocese (one on liturgy and one on ecumenism) as well as teaching homiletics (preaching) to those studying for the diaconate.  I also have assisted as deacon in two parishes and have twice served as an interim administrator of a parish while the parish leader was on medical leave.
I have enjoyed all of these endeavors and hope that I may be able to continue to serve the Church as long as my health holds out.  This coming Easter Sunday, I will begin my 80th year on this planet and I have been blessed in many ways throughout those years especially with a wonderful spouse and family who have supported my efforts.
My suggestion to anyone who is contemplating retirement: keep busy!  Nothing can bring one down more quickly than inactivity.  For me, I just hope that the Lord will grant me more years to be of service while I still can serve.