Buffalo’s 75 Year Priest

In 1935 Fr. Bernard McLaughlin had no idea that he’d be a Bishop. He also probably didn’t think that 75 years later he’d still be at it at the age of 98.

Today is Bishop McLaughlin’s 75th anniversary of his ordination. Amazing!

From the Diocesan press release:

Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, the eighth bishop of Buffalo that Bishop McLaughlin has served under, paid a visit to Bishop McLaughlin’s Town of Tonawanda residence to meet with him and offer a blessing. He also celebrated with a family dinner.

“He is such an icon priest for us,” Bishop Kmiec said. “He is a wonderful symbol of priest and of priesthood. He is a priest with a capital p. What impressed me about him when I first came here was his wonderful humility. He is a priestly man, but also a very humble man. He is such a gentle person, very respectful, and very supportive of what I have done. He is very conscious of what is happening in the life of Church of the United States among the bishops and here in our diocese.”

A recent study done by CARA remarked that nearly 50% of men who applied to the priesthood from the 2009 ordination class were discouraged by someone, including parents in some cases. Bishop McLaughlin’s journey seems to confirm that trend in reverse:

During an interview with Daybreak TV Productions several years ago, Bishop McLaughlin remembered Msgr. James F. McGloin, who established the Diocesan Preparatory Seminary, as one of the people who encouraged his vocation. “He came to Visitation School to address the higher grades and encouraged the boys to become priests and the girls to become nuns. Becoming a priest came naturally to me.”

One of his teachers at Visitation School, Sister Benigna Schleh OSF(w), also influenced his decision. “You should go with him (Msgr. McGloin); you should become a priest,” she urged young Bernard on numerous occasions.

His parents were pleased with his decision to enter the priesthood. “We had a fairly large family (seven children). They were very happy about it.”

So congratulations to Bishop McLaughlin and may God bless him with many more years.

59 Years of Commitment – Warts and All

Today is my parent’s 59th Wedding Anniversary.

That’s fifty…nine…years.

Nearly 60.

They are now barely in their 80s. Were married in 1950…and nobody knows better than they do that marriage is not always about happiness.

Marriage is about commitment. I think that’s something that many people don’t always realize, especially those of you who are not married. Indeed marriage is about commitment. Happiness only comes as a consequence of that commitment, for there will be days in a marriage that are not happy. You are going to get grumpy and tired and angry. You will face tragedies and disagreements and sorrow. You will get mad at one another more often than you care to remember.

Loving one another in marriage faces all of that and yet you love each other anyway.

There’s the old expression “I love you, warts and all” and there’s a truism to this that people who are married truly understand. Married people see one another when they are not at their best. They know not only what is great about one another but also what the other’s weak parts are as well. My own wife for instance knows that I am not particularly easy to get along with in those early morning hours. We both greet the day with the same three words…She says “Good Morning, God!” and I say…

“Good God! … Morning!”

But yet, Marion my wife is patient with my moods and I’ve become a better listener for her. When times get rough I’m sure there are places that we both think about running away to rather than face what the other needs from their partner.

But we don’t. We learned very early on that for marriage to work it needs to be about commitment. No matter what happens. So when my mom got sick during that honeymoon phase of our marriage we had to bond closer to support not only each other but my family—not an easy thing for a new wife. When Marion’s father, grandmother, and uncle died we dealt with a lot of heartache…but we did so together. Through job losses, disagreements and the fact that we can’t make a baby…we have somehow stayed committed to our marriage.

I know I wouldn’t have been able to be half the husband that I am if not for my mom and dad, who have known a similar kind of life….59 years worth of knowing each other’s joys and sorrows. My mother’s lived the last 35 years or so of their marriage with a lot of sickness and a lot of pain. I’m sure there were days that my dad didn’t find marriage to be a barrel of laughs–but I also know that his commitment to my mom is still rock solid and that he never swayed in his love and commitment to her.

This is the kind of outpouring of love that God has for us all. That love outpoured on my parents by God has turned into a love that they’ve been able to offer each other through everything that life has thrown their way.

So today, we celebrate the marriage of Michael Hayes Sr and a young woman originally named Evelyn King, who has been his Mrs. Hayes for 59 long and committed years. You have been a blessing to each other, to your children, your extended family and friends. May your life continue to bless one another in marriage and may the sacrament that is your life continue to bring us to see Christ’s love in you.

Doubt, Marriage and the Passing Years

We had a great time last night celebrating the birthday of BustedHalo’s development coordinator, Brittany Janis in downtown Manhattan. On Monday, my wife, Marion and I celebrate 7 years of marriage. So blogging has been light with all the festivities.

Still some reflections:

Statistics show that if you can be married for seven years that you’re likely to stay married (the dreaded 7 year itch–which Lou Costello once said he had and scratched real fast and got rid of it in three and a half years!). So it looks like we did it. I tell Marion that she’s stuck with me now. She seems OK with that possibility so I guess I’m still amusing enough to stick around.

As years pass I’m reminded in today’s gospel of Doubting Thomas that we do not know what will come after us–but in marriage we have faith that we will go through it together. Living in that hope is sometimes difficult and only intimacy–touching the deep wounds that we all have helps us believe. I need to be in touch with what wounds Marion has undoubtedly, but I also need to believe that she will continue to be there for me despite her wounds and my own–and know more importantly that even despite the wounds that I all too often create and even re-open for her, Marion remains my wife, forgiving me and calling me into a deeper love relationship.

The Gospel calls us to believe without seeing. As we celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other great moments in our lives we also need to have faith to believe that God can see us through anything, that there is really nothing to fear and that doubting only reminds us that we are not tied enough to the woundedness that we all share and calls us to be back in touch with those and believe once again.