Pastoral Thought



            Today, Sunday, some members of my family will be at the 10:30 Mass for our annual remembrance of our deceased members. After Mass we’ll eat together then visit the cemetery.

            I don’t refer to my family very often, so here’s a chance. I was the second of nine, and we grew up in Bellefonte, part of St. Helena’s Parish—many happy memories. Each went to a distinct profession:  scientist, mail clerk, social worker, etc., etc., and five married bringing forth seventeen nieces and nephews (and now great nieces, etc.). It is a real blessing from God that we have all stayed close, without any exclusive relationships. Eight of us are still alive, and all well, except my older brother Tom who has had some setbacks. I suppose I’m writing this because of him.

            As first– and second-born, Tom and I fought each other, then joined together to fight the Clineff’s down the street, then joined the Clineffs to play ball at St. Helena’s. In later teen age Tom and I worked as summer camp counsellors together. Then our vocations and careers led us on separate paths. Now we have more time, and communicate every week.

            One thing I have come to accept is that not all my family still identifies as Catholics. Yet each is a principled, ethical, caring person—for which there is no substitute. This lack of identification in the Church is even more so with my nephews and nieces. Many of you can empathize with this. Yes, there are faults and limitations in the Church, but there is also a secularization process at work in our part of the world. To understand what is happening and respond to it—many of us want that. It spurs my priestly commitment.

            There is a love that only family can give (just as intimate friendship is an irreplaceable love). I thank God for my family in all our eras. They love me for who I am, and I love them.

Father John Hynes