Two longtime parish staffers retire - Catholic Courier

Two longtime parish staffers retire

After many years at their respective Southern Tier parishes, Mercy Sister Kathleen Bayer and Barbara Ivers have each retired as staff members.

Sister Bayer has stepped down after more than two decades as pastoral associate for Elmira’s Ss. Peter and Paul Parish. She has thrived in the parish position that she began in August 1983 with a background consisting mostly of teaching in diocesan Catholic schools. At Ss. Peter and Paul she was responsible for such areas of ministry as hospital and home visitation, staying attentive to all kinds of people experiencing difficulties.

“In a way, I was sort of the parish outreach person for the needy. There was a lot of need in this area, so that kept us busy,” said Sister Bayer, whose duties also included St. Cecilia and St. John the Baptist when those parishes became clustered with Ss. Peter and Paul. Both churches closed in 1998.

Sister Bayer was also visible around Ss. Peter and Paul as a lector and extraordinary minister of holy Communion. Her top highlight was the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program that she directed for more than 10 years.

“Of all the things I did do, it was the most gratifying — working with people who were searching for God in their lives, and seeing the fulfillment and happiness it brought to them. That made me happy,” she said.

Regarding her longevity, she remarked, “The people I worked with here had a lot to do with it — we had a good staff right from the start.” She also had high praise for the Ss. Peter and Paul parishioners, saying, “These are very beautiful people, very generous people. You couldn’t help but like them, and be happy to work with them and for them.”

With her 74th birthday approaching in January, Sister Bayer feels the need to take some rest at this point. She plans to still reside and minister in Elmira, but hasn’t made any decisions yet on her future.

“After a time, I’m sure I’ll be wanting to do some sort of volunteer work,” she said.

An early afternoon retirement reception was held in Sister Bayer’s honor on June 26 at Ss. Peter and Paul’s newly constructed parish center.

Meanwhile, at Holy Cross Parish in Dryden, Tompkins County, Ivers has ended a stretch of 20 years as religious-education coordinator. She was active in parish ministry for another 10 years prior to that at Holy Cross, mostly in youth ministry.

Ivers said that at 62 years old she feels it’s the right time to retire, noting that her husband, Jim, is also retired. She emphasized that her joy for her work has never wavered.

“First of all I just love the people. It’s never been a job,” she said. “I’ve loved working with children and their parents — I mean, I got as much as I gave. It’s a very enriching job, when you’re dealing with people and watching their faith grow.”

Holy Cross’ religious-education program begins as early as ages 3 and 4 — “we call them the sprouts,” she said — and runs through high-school age. Ivers said she especially liked the freshness and honesty of young people, who “will just have some wonderful perspective on something” during class discussions.

Ivers added that she enjoyed the chance to oversee religious education in a modestly sized parish: “You have small classes, so you really get to know the children.”

She was honored with a retirement reception at Holy Cross on June 26 following the 10:30 a.m. Mass. Ivers will still have a presence at the parish, maintaining her volunteer role as choir director.

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