Mass in Watkins Glen honors military - Catholic Courier

Mass in Watkins Glen honors military

WATKINS GLEN — Patricia Hastings contends that United States military personnel don’t get the full recognition they deserve, especially when serving in conflicts that fuel public controversy.

"We need to let them know we care," she stated.

Hastings and her fellow Catholic Daughters of America, Court Lourdes No. 628, did their part by organizing a stirring Veterans Day tribute during the 10 a.m. Mass at St. Mary of the Lake Church on Nov. 11. The spotlight was on veterans right from the start, as uniformed Cub and Boy Scouts led the opening procession — some carrying folded flags to honor deceased military members — while the choir led the congregation in "America the Beautiful."

In his homily Deacon Thomas Ruda implored attendees not to ignore the plight of homeless veterans, saying there are an estimated 300,000 such people either residing in shelters or on streets across the country. Deacon Ruda linked their struggles to that day’s Gospel reading (Mark 12:38-44), in which Jesus deems that a poor widow who donated two coins made a greater sacrifice than those who come from better circumstances. The liturgy ended with Hastings distributing veteran prayer cards and the soulful, trumpet-driven sounds of "Taps" filling the otherwise silent church. A reception honoring veterans in attendance concluded the day’s activities.

The Veterans Day acknowledgements were appreciated by Barbara Goodwin, who was among several military members who stood up near the end of Mass at the behest of Father Paul Bonacci — pastor of Schuyler Catholic Community and that day’s celebrant — to receive applause from the congregation.

"It’s beautiful. It’s nice to have that recognition for the sacrifices we made," said Goodwin, who served for 20 years in the Army Nurse Corps, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. Her husband and father are veterans as well.

Echoing the sentiments of Deacon Ruda, Goodwin added that those sacrifices can have long-lasting repercussions based on the many physical and mental scars of soldiers she witnessed during her Army duty in the United States and Germany.

According to Hastings — a past grand regent of Court 628 who served as chair of the Veterans Day event — she, also, has a strong personal stake in the holiday. Her father, husband and brother all served in the military, as well as a cousin who lost his life in the D-Day invasion of Normandy in June 1944.

One of the most vivid symbols of the day was a scroll of names erected near St. Mary of the Lake’s altar, listing more than 200 living veterans from the parish and community dating back to World War II as well as nearly 100 deceased veterans and 28 people who are in active duty. The scroll was designed by Denise Thompson, grand regent of Court 628.

The Veterans Day Mass is held annually by the Schuyler cluster, which comprises St. Mary of the Lake and St. Benedict Church in Odessa. It is one of many efforts by Court 628 in recent years to honor military personnel. In addition to the annual liturgy, the Catholic Daughters send cards and gifts throughout the year to relatives and friends of Schuyler parishioners currently serving in the military.

Schuyler was among several Southern Tier parish communities that sought to acknowledge Veterans Day. Other efforts included a Field of Honor in downtown Hornell Nov. 9-11, an event sponsored by St. Ann’s Academy during which numerous U.S. flags were flown; a prayer gathering for troops on Nov. 7 at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Elmira Heights; and an assembly and breakfast on Nov. 13 at St. Agnes School in Avon featuring students singing patriotic songs and parents serving breakfast to approximately 35 veterans from Avon and neighboring towns.

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