Helen Prinzing beamed as she received the good wishes of family and hundreds of friends in celebration of her 100th birthday at the Mercy Center on Sunday, Sept. 25. The party, scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m., actually began at 2 because many people arrived early in their eagerness to greet the person of honor.
I have not known Helen for very long. I see her on visits to the Mercy Center. On those occasions I have always been impressed by her lively spirit and zest for life. On one visit I learned that she was so eager to celebrate her 100th birthday in style that she put aside a sum of money each month to finance the party. When I heard about that I told her I’d really like to come and asked her to send me an invitation.
It was a joy to be with her on that grand occasion. By the time I arrived she had been greeting a steady stream of people for more than two hours, and was no doubt tiring. Yet she manifested a peace and serenity that was quite beautiful. I loved the moment when two or three of her friends approached her and asked if they would be meeting to play cards as usual this week. "Of course", Helen said, "why would we miss?"
Let me add that there was a lovely note of prayerfulness and humility about this gentle centenarian. She spoke quietly about the gift of life, the joy of friends, and wondered why she has been granted such long years and so many people who care deeply about her. Her quiet sharing was a gift that has led me to spend some time asking for a more grateful heart for the gift of life.
Helen was not the only person who enriched my life this week. I had a wonderful time celebrating with several of our school communities — Aquinas Institute and Nazareth Elementary School, Bishop Kearney High School, and with our Finger Lakes region elementary schools and DeSales High School who gathered the morning of Sept. 27 at St. Stephen Church in Geneva. The energy and joy of our beautiful young people is always a boost. And to be with them is always a reminder of what treasures our schools are.
Finally, let me mention with gratitude opportunities I had to be with people at wonderful events held to support Holy Childhood School; Habitat for Humanity and Christian Heritage Homes; The Jewish Federation and Project Exile, a program committed to reducing violence by getting illegal guns off the streets.
In a time when there are many problems in front of us it is good to remember that we have much for which to be grateful and to celebrate. I thank Helen, our school kids and the groups I have mentioned for reminding me of that. I am truly grateful.
Peace to all.