The key to happiness - Catholic Courier

The key to happiness

A new class of permanent deacons will be ordained for our diocese on June 2, and — as is the case each year — that’s bound to stir up strong memories in me of the man I knew all my life as Uncle Chuck.

In June 1996 my godfather, Charles R. Dispenza, became a deacon at age 70. After retiring as an English teacher from Gates-Chili High School, he had devoted himself to caring for my ailing godmother; following her death in 1991 he began fervent pursuit of the diaconate. Despite his advanced age, Uncle Chuck logged a vibrant 12-year diaconate by sharing his energetic personality with several parishes, most notably St. Bridget in the inner city of Rochester.

For me, June is layered with poignancy. Not only was Uncle Chuck ordained that month; he went home to the Lord in June 2008; his wife’s first name happened to be June; and he was close friends with my father, Pat, who died last summer and would have turned 89 this June 5.

Uncle Chuck and Dad loved to spin tales about their younger years in the sprawling Italian-American section of Rochester. My personal favorite involved the Sunday-afternoon ritual of convening at each other’s houses, sitting around the dinner table with family and friends – just chatting the day away, sharing conversation and laughter, loving every moment.

To me, this form of human connection is a timeless key to happiness. Today’s crowded menu of electronic options is dazzling and quite useful, yet often overwhelming and distracting. No matter what future inventions await, I’m convinced it’s hard to top the pure pleasure of sharing life with your loved ones face-to-face.

Thanks, Dad and Uncle Chuck, for modeling a powerful lesson that I plan to never forget.

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