Father Robert L. Kelly 1 - The joys of jubilarians

Father Robert L. Kelly

Father Robert L. Kelly,

pastor of linked parishes

of St. Paul, Rome, and

St. Joseph, Lee Center,

ordained in October 1977

Father Kelly said he has been very fortunate to have uncles in the clergy. One of them, the late Father William Kelly, was in his home parish of Most Holy Rosary when he was growing up in Syracuse. He learned a lot from his uncle, “just a very enriching experience.”

“I was with him at different times in his life,” Father Kelly recalled. “It was a lot of support there.”

He has served in Syracuse, Endwell, DeWitt, Utica, Rome, and Lee Center.

As he nears his jubilee, Father Kelly  is reflecting on the rapid change in the Church’s life and ministry and the evolution of the pastoral ministers due to the decline in priestly vocations.

The people that he serves are very supportive, he said. Although the linking of parishes is not without some tension, he said, overall, parishioners are “very appreciative of having a priest and having all that we’re able to do in terms of services and programming. … They’re here for us.”

His time as a priest has gone “pretty fast,” he said. He said his mother had told him that as he gets older, “it’s gonna go pretty fast, pal.”

Asked about hobbies, he said, “I like to play golf, hiking, traveling. And seeing this beautiful world of ours and all of God’s wonderful creation. A little gardening too.”

 

Father G. Peter Worn 1 1 - The joys of jubilarians

Father G. Peter Worn

Father G. Peter Worn,

pastor of St. Joseph Church,

Camillus, ordained

in May 1977

Asked what has impressed, inspired, or surprised him since his last jubilee, Father Worn said in an email:

“People — in all my years it is people of faith — people with crosses—people with hope that have inspired me. …

“As I look back on 40 years of priesthood, I see people — so many people —  with whom I have been privileged to share the journey of life, the journey of faith. They have sustained, and indeed, increased my faith.

“In some ways the years go quicker than before — it seems that every deadline, every season is rushing at me. Part of that is the aging process, I’m sure … but part of it is that the ‘workload’ or at least the expectations on priests have grown as our numbers have declined.

“What has surprised me is the number of people who had been very active in their parishes who have ceased not only to attend Mass, but also to identify with our faith tradition.

“In my 40 years the Church (and by Church I mean the people of God) has gone through very dark times … a lot of it self-inflicted. Yet I still see people who are very involved in their local parishes in their baptismal calling to the priesthood of the laity.

“I am inspired by old priests who continue to minister despite physical restrictions and emotional toil.

“I am impressed by young priests who enter into ministry in the Church at this time.

“I am disheartened by the drop in belief in the Eucharist. I am saddened by selfish choices that color our response to needs around us.

“I am saddened by how fear continues to be used to influence people in so many aspects of life.

“However, I am constantly reminded that God is in charge. That is what I say to myself as I get out of bed each day.”

 

Father Kszyzstof M. Boretto C.H.S. 1 1 - The joys of jubilarians

Father Kszyzstof M. Boretto, C.H.S.

Father Kszyzstof M. Boretto, C.H.S.,

priest in residence,

Saints John and Andrew,

Binghamton, and priest chaplain,

Our Lady of Lourdes

Memorial Hospital, Binghamton,

ordained in June 1987

Father Boretto studied in Poland and was ordained in England. He remembers that when he was in Luton, north of London, he encountered missionary orders from all over the world. He himself is a member of the Congregation of the Crusade of the Holy Spirit.

After he was ordained he did mission work for one year in Venezuela. Then he moved back to England and became a rector. He came to the United States in 1995.

His main ministry is serving as priest chaplain for the sick and the dying at Lourdes Hospital for 21 years. He called it a mutual learning experience.

He recalled praying for a young couple whose baby lived several days after being born with only the stem of a brain. The baby’s body was donated to science, so the baby did not live in vain, he said.

When people struggle with illnesses, he said, they have concerns about their life and they come closer to God. “They open so much to yourself that they never opened before,” he said. “They enrich you with their experience of God.” He himself feels the presence of God while he is helping them.

Father Boretto also interacts with non-Catholic patients.

“They can enrich you with their own experience of understanding God,” he said, “and what it means to be compassionate.”

He has learned that “a lot of people have a great reverence for or respect for the Catholic Church. I feel very proud to be Catholic.” He said the Church is open to everybody, sinners and saints.

Father Boretto also recalled his six-month service in Corpus Christi, Texas. He laughed at the memory of himself, a Polish man, wearing a cowboy hat. He spoke Spanish at the time, and the parishes were poor, “but they were so generous.” He loved their mariachi music, “so beautiful, uplifting.” Their faith combined heart and head together, he said, and they were “very strong Catholics.”

His doctor says that he has to walk a lot, so that’s what he does. A former professional soccer referee, he also watches soccer. In his younger years Father Boretto played soccer and volleyball, and he was the “best sprinter”; he was very fast in the 100-meter dash and the 4-by-100-meter relay.

If he could go back to age 23 when he entered the seminary, he would take the exact same road in life, he said. He credits his grandmother for planting the seed in him: When he was as young as four or five, she read him the Bible every day.


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