By adhering to the "nothing ventured, nothing gained" philosophy, folks in Tioga County netted a very special guest for a recent parish event.
A few months back, as part of duties with her parishes’ adult faith-formation committee, Marion Rutan fielded suggestions regarding a guest speaker for the Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick men’s breakfast.
"One of our committee members said, ‘Let’s ask the bishop,’" she recalled, adding that the general reaction was, "Oh no, the bishop won’t come."
She nonetheless took the chance of contacting Bishop Matthew H. Clark’s office, and Father William Moorby, pastor, later followed up with the bishop as well. Sure enough, the leader of the diocese accepted the invitation to travel 125 miles to Newark Valley for the event, which took place June 12 at St. John the Evangelist Church.
Bishop Clark chose the topic of "Is Your Life Spinning Out of Control?" Sharing personal examples of times he has been under pressure, the bishop suggested that participants distance themselves from such pressure in their own lives to whatever degree possible and to invoke prayer.
"When he asked, ‘When have you been exceptionally busy?’ he just hit me between the eyes with that, because just recently I’ve been very, very busy," said Deacon Warren Rutan, parish deacon for Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick and husband of Marion. "I’m supposed to be retired, but there are four churches and two priests here. The bishop brought to mind there was quite a bit of pressure for me, and the pressure was of my doing."
Bishop Clark also suggested that audience members think of loved ones whose lives may be spiraling out of control and consider what they might be able to do to help. The bishop’s presentation, which lasted approximately an hour, ended with a question-and-answer session.
Participants came from St. John the Evangelist as well as the other three Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick churches: St. Margaret Mary, Apalachin; St. James, Waverly; and St. Patrick, Owego. Deacon Rutan said the bishop was very well-received, with approximately 50 men attending the breakfast, whereas such an event would normally draw 30 to 35.
"Everybody was just anxious to see him," said Jerry Ward of St. Patrick Church, who added that one of the morning’s highlights was the sharing of pictures from Bishop Clark’s 1979 installation that somebody had brought.
Deacon Rutan observed that the bishop was adept at using humor during his address, and Ward said he was impressed with Bishop Clark’s ability to connect with his audience.
"The bishop is very charismatic. It’s definitely from the heart when he talks to us. He was just impressing upon us how closeness to God, having that spirituality, gets you out of life’s struggles," Ward said. "He always makes you feel that he’s talking directly to you and that he understands exactly what you’re going through."
Though Marion Rutan helped organize the bishop’s appearance, she didn’t get to hear his words of wisdom on June 12 because duty beckoned: Since the Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick women traditionally cook for the men’s breakfasts, she was busy in the church kitchen.
"Then we have a women’s breakfast, and the men cook for us," she noted.