Last Saturday, my niece, Grace Early, and Michael Hastings married at St. Joseph’s Church in Troy, N.Y.
It was my happy privilege to witness their marriage in the company of the families and many friends of Grace and Michael in that magnificent parish church.
If you have followed “Along the Way” over the years, you will know that Grace is the first-born of the five daughters of my sister, Helen, and her husband, Jim. Grace and her sisters, who were all attendants at the wedding, have always brought me great joy as my nieces. They have also favored me with the gift of their friendship, something that I treasure all the more deeply in their adulthood.
Standing in the company of Grace and Michael and the whole assembly on Saturday was a pleasure beyond my power to describe it — not only because of the joy of the event itself, but also because of the memories, images and associations it evoked in me. Among them:
1) Grace wore her mother’s wedding gown at the ceremony. I don’t have a refined eye for such things, but I do remember my sister wearing that dress when she married 41 years ago this coming June. I thought the gown was simple and elegant and that Helen looked beautiful in it that day. I thought the same of the gown and of Grace on Saturday. Helen and Grace are very different in personality, but they are not just mother and daughter. They are also close friends. It was a grace for me then, and it still is, to reflect on how significant that dual relationship is to both of them.
2) In similar fashion I have enjoyed, as I always do, seeing the five sisters together. I realize that all siblings are different one from the other, but I have always thought that was true in extra measure of the Early sisters. They are just very distinct personalities, a reality that has always been evident among them. But for all their differences — even occasional tensions — they are very good to one another. And, on occasions like Grace’s wedding, they do know how to have fun together! At the reception, they replaced their wedding shoes with other footwear and danced up a storm. It was as though they spontaneously went to a level at which they were one and at which they could truly be free and easy with one another.
3) My lifelong friends, Bishop Howard Hubbard and Father Tom Powers, were concelebrants at the nuptial Mass. Howard and Tom have known the girls since they were born, and the kids have always been deeply fond of them. Joining them were Father John Mulligan, who drove from Rochester to be with us, and Father Romaeus Cooney, OCarm, who is pastor at St. Joseph’s. Father Romaeus helped prepare Grace and Michael for the marriage in a richly pastoral way. John and Grace have had a wonderful relationship for a long time. They love to “pick on” one another and go at it in wonderful ways.
In addition to John, Sisters Mary Ann Binsack, Janet Korn and Peggy Brennan came from Rochester to celebrate the day. They are also good friends of Grace, and their presence at the wedding meant a great deal to her and to me, too. It’s a special gift when friends from my place of origin connect with friends from my home of nearly 30 years.
This is a time of year during which there are an abundance of occasions that bring people together — weddings, graduations, confirmations, ordinations, anniversaries of all the above and many others.
I’d bet that most who read these words have some such event on their calendars between now and the end of June. If participation in such an event will be a part of your life in the days ahead, I hope that it will be as rich an experience for you as Grace and Michael’s wedding was for me — that it will put you in touch with the relationships in your life that nourish your spirit, renew your hope and quicken your zest for life.
Peace to all.