"I have always considered my work for the Diocese of Albany and Bishop Hubbard to be a ministry," said Carol Dugan, secretary to the Bishop.
When she first applied for the job nine years ago, she "offered it up in prayer." She was still raising her family of seven children with her husband Frank. They lived in Clifton Park, and her children weren't that excited about her traveling to Albany every day.
But she felt confident that the job was "a natural progression, an advancement" from her position as secretary to the chancellor. She had already been working in the Chancery for five years, long enough to be exposed to the workings of the top diocesan administrator.
"I knew what it was like to a certain degree, and, of course, I already knew the Bishop," she said.
Soon after she accepted her position, reorganization changed her job description. Mrs. Dugan gained the additional task of maintaining the Bishop's often hectic appointment schedule.
"Currently, Bishop Hubbard is scheduled for events and appearances into the year 2005," she said. "We used to use a regular calendar, but now we use this one."
She pointed to a stack of blank calendar sheets where months, days and years are penciled in; the Bishop's appointments are filled in to the minutest detail and with the greatest care.
"It got so that this is the only way we could schedule him three years ahead," she explained. "Of course, we also have it all on a database on the computer, but I would never have it just in the computer. I want it where I can see it at all times."
BY doing so, she can keep him "in the right place on the right day at the right time." That includes not only the Bishop himself, but also his vestments and whatever else he needs for each appointment.
Supporting the highest office of the local Catholic Church can be exhausting at times. It's a very busy place, around which local, national and even international political, social and religious turmoil surges. Sometimes, it is innocuous and tranquil; but more often than not, it is controversial and imposing. It is a place where there is, according to her, "rarely a dull moment."
"It's a wonderful job, really," she told The Evangelist, when asked what it is like to work for Bishop Hubbard. "He is a wonderful person to work for. As a lot of people know, he has a phenomenal memory. He is kind, gentle and compassionate with everyone he meets. It continues to be a pleasure and a privilege to work for him, even after nine years."
Mrs. Dugan doesn't do it alone, though, and she is the first to admit that those who help her are vital to the smooth operation of the Chancery. On her team are Ginny Daley, Sister Irene Kruse and Peg Gilbride, all of whom work with her, answering phones, fielding questions, welcoming visitors, maintaining calm, and generally supporting the Bishop and his two chancellors, Sister Kathleen Turley, RSM, and Rev. Kenneth Doyle.
Asked what she will remember of her job long into retirement, Mrs. Dugan replied: "I am most impressed by the fact that the Bishop always remembers he is a priest, first and foremost -- the way he lives his life, how he works, his dedication to the people of his Diocese and his priests. I am amazed at how many hats he wears on any given day and at the change of pace he has [to adjust to] over the course of a single day's business.
"He is always totally present to each person in each situation. It doesn't matter who he is dealing with. Sometimes, I am in awe of him and this job. Sometimes, I look around and really can't believe that I'm here!
"Just being able to serve Bishop Hubbard in the small way that I do is my own way of serving God. To be able to assist him in 'doing' and 'being' for the people of this Diocese is enough for me. I do whatever it takes."