Faithful offer Lenten lessons - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Faithful offer Lenten lessons

My sister just called to share some wonderful news. We have a new baby in the family. Jennifer Helen was born to Kathleen and Mark Grignon on the afternoon of March 15 at Saint Peter’s Hospital in Albany. Mother and daughter are both doing well. Kathleen, of course, is tired. Jennifer’s birth weight of 9 pounds, 13 ounces may account for a good bit of that fatigue.

So as I write, I am sure that word of this new life is spreading among family and beyond. There will be great delight among all, of course. I think in particular of the oldest two of that generation, Julie and Megan Neff. Since Megan was born in 1997, five boys have come into the family. We all love those boys dearly. And certainly, Julie and Megan do. But I do know that they have been longing for a girl cousin for a long time. When they’re around, Kathleen and Mark won’t have to look far for a baby-sitter.

Jennifer’s arrival is another special grace for me in a Lenten season in which the Lord has led me to think about life in many ways. It just seems part of the Lord’s intent for me this Lent that I be with people who reflect God’s own goodness in the way they live their lives.

Rather than try to explain that in the abstract, let me offer you some examples. These are people I have met recently whose company has been important to me because it put me in touch with values and convictions that are dear to us all:

Melissa Mahajan and Samantha Considine from Holy Family Junior High in Elmira traveled to Albany for a Public Policy Forum sponsored by the New York State Catholic Conference. I think that Melissa and Samantha, who attended the Youth Conference, were the youngest people present. It was a delight to meet them. And, it was a true gift. They are generous, bright girls whose willingness to be a part of that venture reminded me of how blessed we are in our young people today, and what wonderful hope they offer us for the future.

Bishop Joseph Sullivan, recently retired Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn, received the J. Alan Davitt award at the Public Policy Forum. I had the honor of presenting the award to Joe for his extraordinary service to the New York State Catholic Conference for over 40 years. I have great admiration for Joe as brother bishop and great affection for him as friend. He continues to be a source of strength and encouragement to many of us.

Mary Bills, campus minister at Aquinas Institute. On a delightful visit to Aquinas this morning I could not miss the joy that Mary derives from her service to that community. She told me about her happiness in her work. I was glad to hear that but the words were not necessary. You just know from observing that she draws life from her ministerial service. I thank her for reminding me never to let the harder moments obscure the joy that is always there.

Dr. Bernard Tofany and Donald Murphy were also at Aquinas this morning. Bernard and Donald graduated from Aquinas 65 years ago and were at the school for a meeting in preparation for an alumni reunion to be held in October of this year. They are quite excited about that event. I can only interpret that excitement as a sign that they remain grateful after all of these years for what they experienced at Aquinas. A grateful heart is a precious gift. I thank these good gentlemen for reminding me of that.

Jennifer, Kathleen, Melissa and Samantha, Joe, Mary, Bernard and Donald. Some very young; others much older. All gifted. All called. All responding. And, they put me in touch with important themes: joy, awe, gratitude, service, commitment. I am grateful to them and many others for precious Lenten lessons.

Peace to all.

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