Feb. 2-8, 2006
By Deacon Tom Picciano/ SUN contributing writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
St. Vincent de Paul and Founding Pastor are Celebrated
Vestal — Msgr. L. Eugene Giblin recalls paying a dollar a month rent for vacant stores at the Vestal Plaza when St. Vincent de Paul Parish started more than 40 years ago. The 375 families who attended Mass there kept warm with a borrowed heater during that first winter. Parishioners raised more than $150,000 to build the church. Classrooms and a meeting hall were added later. Msgr. Giblin retired a decade or so ago, but still spends time keeping up with the parish.
In 2004, as plans started for a 40th anniversary celebration, parishioners were also looking for a way to honor Msgr. Giblin for his decades of service. When the statue of St. Vincent de Paul was dedicated in the fall, donations had already covered the $15,000 cost.
On a snowy day in December, Msgr. Giblin and St. Vincent’s current pastor, Father Richard Giblin, showed a visitor the bronze sculpture. It sits between two walkways at the church’s entrance. It’s best to take a walk around to see the intricate crafting by sculptor Timothy Schmalz.
A child grasps St. Vincent’s cloak from behind. Two other children look up at him from the front, with their pained, hollow eyes. A man with a crutch under his arm is enveloped into his cloak on the other side. Deacon Jim Crowley added that it’s important to include others with St. Vincent in the sculpture. “With the kids hanging on to him and his helping the man with the crutch, it’s just such a great symbolism of not only what [St.] Vincent is, but asks what we are supposed to be.”
“I think what makes it so great and meaningful is that it’s life-size. So you’re standing there. We’re just part of the group, which is neat,” said parishioner Alice McCauley. From the parish’s earliest days, they’ve had the spirit of the patron saint. Msgr. Giblin recalled the start of designating a portion of the church’s income for those in need. St. Vincent’s has worked with several other parishes in the Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Binghamton for close to five years. They also continue outreach programs from the parish. For Thanksgiving, they distributed nearly 150 bags of food. At Christmas, dozens of presents provided by parishioners spilled out from underneath the Giving Tree.
“All you have to do is say ‘we need’ and they’re right behind the door. It’s amazing. There’s never a want for any volunteer,” said parishioner Carol Ann Giorgio. “St. Vincent’s ministry is extended in time to the present day, “said Father Richard Giblin, “He’s a patron of charity. A patron of the universal church.”
When the parish was being organized in 1965, Bishop Walter Foery asked the future pastor, Father (now Msgr.) Giblin what the parish should be named. “Well, my first name is Lawrence. I said, ‘St. Lawrence.’” “He said, ‘No. What would you like to name it?’” “I said ‘St. Lawrence.’ He said, ‘You can’t name a new church!’” “I said, ‘Well, you asked me!’”
Msgr. Giblin looks back fondly on his years at St. Vincent’s. “The people have been very, very wonderful. They made the church and if you needed help you could talk to them.”
He shares recognition with St. Vincent de Paul in the statue that stands in front of the church, with this simple inscription: “Dedicated to Rev. Msgr. Lawrence E. Giblin / our Founding Pastor / On the 40th Anniversary of our Parish / 2005”