Retiring priest grateful  for great sendoff he gets at Utica church

Submitted by Tom Loughlin Jr.

Standing in front of the new grill given to him by the board of trustees of the church, Father Buehler reads their expressions of gratitude. “Now I’m going to have to learn how to cook hot dogs and hamburgers!” quipped Father Buehler. (Photos courtesy Tom Loughlin Jr.)

Utica — Parishioners of 200-year-old Historic Old St. John’s Church honored their retiring pastor June 30 as Father John Buehler celebrated his last Mass in the church.

Father Buehler was joined in the sanctuary by Father Richard Dellos, Father John Nguyen, and Deacon William Dischiavo.

Relating a little family history, Father Buehler said his father had questioned him on whether or not he really wanted to be involved with the church because it was in downtown Utica and “a lot of characters hung around there.” On move-in day, Father Buehler recounted that his father insisted on being on hand with his cane so he could shoo off those “‘characters.’”

Projecting to a much different scene 25 years later, the departing pastor drew an uproarious response from the congregation when he told the assembled, “Now, YOU are those characters!”

A musical program by the St. John’s choir and soloists Patrick Marthage and Jill Bush included two “Hallelujah Choruses” — one the familiar Handel piece and one the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Christ on the Mount of Olives by Beethoven.

Father Buehler explained that St John’s broke with tradition, including the Handel version in the Easter Mass rather than Christmas, and he expressed his worry that choir “Maestro” Angela Nasssar had not assured him that his favorite composition would be included in his last Mass’s musical selections. When the first notes of the Beethoven version, his favorite, rang out of the choir loft, Father Buehler could be heard delightedly saying for all to hear, “I got it!”

Father Buehler had become the pastor of St. John’s in November 1993. He also became the pastor of St. Francis de Sales in July 2004, and the parishes merged in 2006. Father Thomas Servatius, who Father Buehler noted had requested the Historic Old St. John’s assignment, stepped into Father Buehler’s vacated position on July 1, 2019.

Father William Mesmer was among the attendees at the June 30 reception under the tent in the church parking lot. Offered were hors d’oeuvres, tomato pie, desserts, and champagne mimosas. Father Buehler thanked everybody and said he was very pleased and very, very grateful.

The Board of Trustees surprised Father Buehler with a new grill, drawing the priestly response “Now I’m going to have to learn how to cook hot dogs and hamburgers!”

Gratitude was expressed to the reception committee chaired by Trustees Robert Payne (Joan) and Andy Peterson (Edie), and members David and Karen Bishop, Anita Brown, Jill and Gordon Bush, Linda and David Cardarelli, Amy Falvo, Sisters Elizabeth Greim and Paula Mayer, D.C., Brian Kney, Tho Le, Clare Manino, Patrick and Genia Marthage, and Sister Sharon Whellahan, DC.

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