Betty Doppel quickly shrugged off the many time sacrifices she has made throughout her 41 years as a catechist.
“I think maybe I’ve gotten more out of it than they have,” she remarked.
Doppel was referring to the many children who have passed through her classrooms, beginning in New Jersey and continuing for three decades in New York state — first at St. Patrick’s Parish in Moravia, Cayuga County, then the past 17 years at St. Anthony’s in Groton. In addition, she has served St. Anthony’s as a housekeeper.
During her tenure in Tompkins County, Doppel has worked mostly with second-graders.
“I’m most grateful to God for granting to me the privilege to help the little ones to know, love and serve him. And this privilege has definitely been beneficial to my own spiritual life,” she said.
Yet upon reaching 80 years old, the Groton resident felt it was time to retire this year. She hopes that others will carry on where she left off.
“Just put your trust in God, even if you think ‘oh, I couldn’t do that,'” she said. “Children open up a lot of us. I know religious-education teaching has done that for me. It is really something that people should think about.”
The most important message to instill in young Catholics is a simple one, she said: “You love Jesus, Jesus loves you. His love for us never changes. If you get that in them very early, I think that’s vital.”
Doppel was recognized for her ministry during 8:30 a.m. Mass at St. Anthony’s on April 30. The parish made a cash gift to Doppel, who chose to put the money toward replacing the church’s Communion cups — not surprising since she has been a sacristan at St. Anthony’s as well — with a small portion also going to Eternal Word Television Network.
“I just think I just have enjoyed it to the hilt. It’s just very joyful,” she said of her involvement at St. Anthony’s.
Doppel is among several people who are moving on after many years of ministry in Southern Tier parishes, according to recent bulletin announcements:
* Father Francis Davis, who had resided for the past 26 years in Corning, moved in late March to the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Rochester for health reasons after suffering a fall in January. He was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Elmira from 1969-78 and also pastor of the former St. Patrick’s in Corning from 1980 until his 1990 retirement. He then stayed on in Corning, remaining highly visible through his many Masses and ministries at All Saints Parish. Cards and letters may be sent to Father Davis at 150 French Road, Rochester, NY 14618.
* Father Robert C. MacNamara is moving from Horseheads’ Church of St. Mary Our Mother — where he had lived the past 13 years in retirement and 14 overall — to St. Mary’s Southside Parish in Elmira. St. Mary Our Mother celebrated a dual farewell and 55th-anniversary acknowledgement of his priesthood June 11.
The priest has numerous Southern Tier ties: He grew up in Elmira’s St. Patrick Parish; was assistant pastor at St. Ann’s, Hornell, from 1951-55 and returned there as pastor from 1970-83; was assistant at Immaculate Conception in Ithaca from 1967-69; and was pastor of St. Vincent de Paul in Corning from 1983-90.
Father MacNamara observed that with the shortage of priests, he will continue to lend sacramental assistance in whatever way possible in the Chemung County area.
“God willing, if he keeps blessing me the way he has, I expect to help,” he said.
* Diane Schafer is concluding 13 years of ministry at St. Catherine of Siena in Ithaca, most recently as director of religious education. A reception in her honor was held at the church May 28.
* Anne Karski, a longtime pastoral aide at Ss. Peter and Paul in Elmira, retired May 31. She had initially retired several years ago before opting to return to the parish in at least a part-time capacity.
* Rosemary Anthony is leaving after five years as youth minister of Our Lady of Lourdes in Elmira.