• Bishop Matthew H. Clark

Honoring notable ministers' service

Catholic Courier    |    09.22.2003
Category: From the Bishop


On Sunday, I had the pleasure of traveling to Steuben County to celebrate Eucharist with two of our lively parish communities.

The first stop was at St. Mary’s in Bath for the 9 a.m. Mass and the formal installation of Deacon Ray Defendorf as pastoral administrator of that parish community.

I have known Ray for some time and had the honor of ordaining him to the diaconate. He is a generous, gifted and enthusiastic minister of the Gospel. I am sure Ray has his down moments as we all do, but I think of him as one of the most upbeat individuals I know. And, I want to tell you that he seemed to overflow with happiness to be entrusted with the daily pastoral care of the community.

Part of Ray’s happiness may be his recognition that St. Mary’s is a well-organized parish whose members are gifted and very generous in sharing their talents for the good of the community and the furtherance of their mission.

And, I know that at the heart of Ray’s confidence and positive spirit is his beloved spouse, Pat. I have known Pat for many years, and remember with particular gratitude her service to our Diocesan Pastoral Council and to our Synod process.

I am grateful to Ray, Pat and the people of St. Mary’s for a wonderful celebration and wish them every blessing as they move forward together.

From the 9 a.m. Mass at Bath and our newest pastoral administrator, I went to the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Gabriel’s in Hammondsport and our longest-tenured pastoral administrator.

I refer to Sister Ann Michelle McGill, SSJ, who took on her current responsibilities in 1993, and has served with distinction ever since. During a coffee hour after Mass, it brought me great joy to hear the people share their memories of this past decade and to hear them speak with genuine respect and affection for Sister McGill's presence and ministry among them.

One of the special moments of the morning was to be presented with grapes from a vine the parishioners had planted on the parish grounds on the occasion of her installation 10 years ago.

I can’t leave this subject without a word of thanks to Father Pius Pathmarajah, who serves as sacramental minister to both St. Mary’s and St. Gabriel’s, and who assists in the pastoral care at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Bath. Pius came to us from Sri Lanka, and recently has become a permanent member of our presbyterate.

Today, Monday, was one of those back-to-the-office days. I was engaged in meetings for the whole workday except for the funeral liturgy of Msgr. Richard M. Quinn, a beloved priest of our diocese. When I came to the diocese, Monsignor Quinn was pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rochester. Earlier he spent many years teaching at St. Andrew’s Seminary and was also the rector of the seminary. That Dick Quinn earned the affection and respect of his students was evident in the large number of our priests who attended today’s liturgy and the prayer service on Sunday evening. Our departed friend would have been 90 on his next birthday.

The rest of the week will be busy enough. Some highlights: tomorrow there will be a luncheon with leaders from parishes participating in the third round of Partners in Faith. On Wednesday we will have a meeting of the Campaign Cabinet for Partners in Faith at the new St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry. This session will be followed by a press conference.

I’ll be spending Thursday and Friday in Douglaston, New York – near LaGuardia Airport – at a meeting with the bishops of the seven other dioceses of New York state. We will spend part of that meeting in conversation with representative priests from those same dioceses.

Peace to all.

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