Bishop Howard Hubbard and I arrived at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops about the same time, 1977. He came as the ordinary of the Diocese of Albany, and I as the first director of the newly established Secretariat for the Laity. One of the first tasks given me by the chairman of the bishops' Committee on the Laity (headed by Archbishop Edward McCarthy of Miami) was to organize a consultation of existing laity councils. And he added, "See if you can get that new bishop in Albany to come."
The new bishop did, indeed, come, and he took everyone by surprise. Looking like a young, personable priest (not a bit of episcopal color in sight), he introduced himself as Howard Hubbard. Period. That lack of institutional and personal ego has been a constant during a quarter century of national leadership. He understood from the very beginning of his days as a bishop that ecclesial leadership presumes participation. That meant a willingness to serve on national committees and as an episcopal liaison with national organizations, which often requires a sacrifice of time and energy.
Much of Howard Hubbard's time and energy has been focused on those areas that directly affect the life of the laity and the Church's larger mission to the world. Family life is one of those areas. Under his leadership, the landmark document "A Family Perspective in Church and Society" was published in 1988. (It was revised and reissued in 1998.) Over the years, he has served on Laity Committee with distinction, taking an active interest in the development of lay ecclesial ministry and bringing much needed theological reflection and pastoral sensitivity to burgeoning new issues. Many of these issues revolve around the role of women; and through his participation on the bishops' Committee on Women, Bishop Hubbard has sought to engage the issues thoughtfully and honestly.
I had the opportunity to observe him up close. What I saw was competence, courage, compassion, creativity and collaboration -- what I would call the marks of an authentic leader. I saw a disciple of Christ, spiritually grounded in the Beatitudes.
Dolores R. Leckey,
Church Leadership Program,
Woodstock Theological Center,
What has always struck me about Bishop Hubbard is his consistency. No matter where he is or what he is doing, his fundamental belief in the value and goodness of people shines through. It doesn't matter if he's in a room full of Confirmation candidates or in a meeting with a high-ranking government official. It doesn't matter if he's speaking to a troubled individual or to a rally on the steps of the State Capitol. It doesn't matter if he's in front of the television cameras or behind closed doors. His message of respect for human life is unflinching. It's always there. It's in his questions: "How will this help people?"..."Will this hurt the little guy?"..."Can't this injustice be stopped?" It's in his ideas: "We need to start a new program."..."Let's form a coalition to get the message out." It's in his eyes. Bishop Hubbard is one of those rare human beings who has recognized and embraced the enormous challenge of living a consistent ethic of life.
Kathleen M. Gallagher
NYS Catholic Conference
For ten years, I enjoyed the opportunity of working with Bishop Hubbard at St. John's in Albany. They were difficult days, with a lot of racial tension in our beloved South End of Albany.
He had an amazing dedication to bringing peace to these troubled times and to putting the Beatitudes into our daily routine with the homeless, the addicted and the needy poor.
We would both be busy with our parish and community activities; but, at the end of the day, we would meet in Howard Johnson's at 10 p.m. for our nightly ice cream, and to share what we were involved in that day. We then brainstormed how we could team up to provide services to improve the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy for the next day.
When you're living with someone for ten years in a neighborhood that was considered "the problem area" of the city, I'm grateful for his friendship and outstanding example of ministry.
He was an easy person to keep happy: If pasta was there at dinnertime, he would quickly smile. Our housekeeper was a displaced person from a concentration camp who didn't speak English and never threw food away. She saved the Bishop's Oct. 31st birthday cake and served it again at the end of the legislative session, with many Senators and Assembly women and men there as our guests. That dinner party was on June 15th, but the cake had "Oct. 31st" and "Happy Birthday H. Hubbard on it"! Everyone denied taking any of our cake for their dessert.
We had fun together -- and I'm grateful for his friendship.
Rev. Peter Young,
Pastor, Blessed Sacrament,
Twenty five years -- or the quarter of a century -- is a recognized time denoting good service. Bishop Hubbard has certainly mastered the full course of how to be a good shepherd. But there are some fields of endeavor he has still to walk; some mountains he still must climb; and some mysterious climes he must travel.
For example -- one only, but an important one -- he has yet to enter into the mysterious but wondrous land of the modern supermarket. The few forays he attempted were less than glorious successes.
It was summer, and summer means a change of pace and a change of scene. The Bishop has for some time put his face to the east in order to find relaxation. His role for the ones who share the shore breezes is to provide the evening entertainment (i.e. video). He faithfully sets out as the first of the evening breezes moves the leaves on the patio. There was one evening when for reasons lost to this memory, he was asked to stop by Angelo's [a market] to get croutons and coffee. He tried; he searched; but the skill of knowing how to read the road map of a modern market took him down.
Oh, he brought back a package. But croutons were bread crumbs, and the can of rich roasted coffee was a jar of instant decaf. We knew we could not send him again until he learned to unscramble the code and the arcane system employed in teasing a person to find where things are in the market called "super." With that task still ahead of him, I suggest that he has done very well with his ministry of 25 years.
Ad multos annos.
Rev. Thomas Powers, pastor,
St. Teresa of Avila parish,
Early in 1977, I received a call asking if I would be one of the deacons at the ordination of our newly appointed bishop, Howard Hubbard. I was both delighted to be asked and frightened that I would make a mistake.
I remember the celebration as if it were yesterday. The recreation center at Siena College in Loudonville was filled to overflowing. I had never seen so many people gather for the celebration of an ordination. What a celebration it was!
I remember at the rehearsal, the Bishop was having some trouble learning to walk with his new shepherd's staff. After a little frustration, he handed it to me and said, "Here, you try it!" It's not as easy as it looks.
Two months later, our Bishop was ordaining me. "Do you promise me and my successors obedience and respect?" he asked, as I placed my hands in his. "I do," I responded. And so our Bishop's and my story have been connected ever since.
That simple gesture of learning how to walk with the shepherd's staff seems a fine metaphor for what we both have tried to do. Our world is much different than it was in 1977. Our Church, too, has changed and struggled over these years. Things change; we change. Only Jesus Christ remains the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Perhaps my Bishop did not know what he was inviting me to do when he said that day, "Here, you try it!" But I am forever grateful he asked.
Bishop, I am still trying to learn how to walk.
Rev. Christopher DeGiovine
Dean of Spiritual Life,
The College of St. Rose, Albany
It gives me great pleasure to be among those invited to salute Howard Hubbard on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his ordination as Bishop of Albany.
I have known this great man for more than 40 years. I have cherished his friendship as fellow seminarian, brother priest, my bishop and brother bishop.
In all of those phases of our lives together, Howard's personal qualities have impressed me in many ways. Among those qualities are a wonderful mind, a generous spirit, and a reverent and compassionate disposition toward all.
In quiet and effective ways, he has made all of his wide gifts available to the Church and civic communities. His concern for and commitment to the poor have shown through all the years. His preaching, speaking and writings have been gifts not only to the Diocese of Albany but also to dioceses in every region of our nation. I most certainly include the Diocese of Rochester in that number.
Mostly, I salute with fine admiration the commitment Bishop Hubbard has made to the renewal of the Church to which Vatican Council II called all of us. His Episcopal motto, "Rejoice, We are God's People," is one that he has lived heart and soul during his 25 years of episcopal ministry in and for the Church.
With you, I thank God for the gift Howard is to all of us. With you, I pray that we will enjoy his friendship and leadership for many more years.
Most. Rev. Matthew Clark
Bishop of Rochester
The morning that Bishop Hubbard told me that he had accepted the appointment to become Albany's ninth bishop, he said, "I hope I've done the right thing." I thought at that time that he had, and I think that now, more than ever.
He is a person who has been greatly gifted by God, and he uses those gifts with tireless commitment and energy. Bishop Hubbard has a great trust in the Holy Spirit's power to act through persons; thus, he does not fear dialogue and respects processes. He does not fear new ideas because he knows that ultimately God will show the way.
He is a healer and a bridge-builder, and as a result he makes himself vulnerable. In this, he follows the example of the Lord into whose life he has been baptized. He is compassionate, with the ability to be directive in a way that sustains and nurtures rather than tears down and destroys.
He is a brother to his fellow priests and a fellow pilgrim with his people. His motto, "Rejoice, We are God's People," says it all. His joy is to see God's people advance in building up God's kingdom on earth in anticipation of the heavenly kingdom.
I am blessed to be able to call him my bishop, my brother priest and fellow pilgrim in the journey of faith.
Rev. Michael Farano, pastor
St. Pius X Church
I first met Howard Hubbard in the early '60s. I was an associate at St. Peter's Church in Troy. He was either home from Rome or on his way to Rome. I invited him to come to St. Peter's for dinner one evening. We had a wonderful visit and a wonderful time.
I did not see him again until his ordination as Bishop in 1977 at Siena College. At the end of the ordination, he came out the side door to greet all of the priests individually. At that time, I was rector at Mount Saint Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and recall quite vividly that he came up to me and called me by name immediately, not having seen me since the early '60s. That impressed me very much.
In 1979, I returned to the Diocese of Albany, and had the privilege and opportunity of living with Bishop Hubbard at the Chancery, while I worked in the Continuing Education of Priests Office for the next two years. It was during those two very happy years that I came to know Bishop Hubbard very well. It was during that time that a certain quality of graciousness emerged, which was consistent and which never seemed to fail.
The great Cardinal Newman in the "Idea of a University" defines a gentleman as follows: "A gentleman is one who never inflicts pains." Howard Hubbard is that gentleman. He would never inflict pain on another purposely. He is always gracious and born out of that graciousness is a reverence for the other, whom he sees as made to the image and likeness of God.
Coupled with all of this is an enviable sense of humor in which he can laugh and make others laugh at the incongruous situations which are presented to all of us as we journey through life. On many occasions, I shared the laugher with him and with the others living at the Chancery in the television room.
Albany has been blessed by his ministry. He has left his mark with love for the poor and love for the priests. He has a deep understanding of the Church in the Year 2002 and has weathered the storm which always swirls around anyone in leadership with grace and with a smile on his face.
Most. Reverend Harry J. Flynn, D.D.
Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
In June 1956, I was privileged to offer the commencement address for LaSalle Institute of Troy at the Troy Music Hall. Beyond my perception was the fact that 21 years later, one of the graduates that night would become my bishop.
Nor could I have imaged that only eight years later that same graduate would enter his first permanent assignment as a priest as the associate pastor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where I was the rector.
It was at this latter time, with some temerity, that the young priest, Howard Hubbard, informed me that he did not remember anything that I had said at his graduation.
Although we spent only one year working in the same parish, it was the year that his apostolic vision manifested a strong commitment to the poor. Within two years, he had founded Providence House, which enabled him to become the "street priest" he so desired.
During this period of our lives, I became aware of his "commitment with compassion." As for commitment, no hour, no task, no irritation kept him from walking with the people he served. As for compassion, the people from Cathedral to Providence House began to testify with a strong and unified spirit of his compassion. He suffered with them, which is the essence of compassion. His rule of thumb was "How can I help this person standing before me?"
For 25 years as bishop, he has offered that same honest and total commitment with compassion.
Rev. Jack Jones, Rector Emeritus
I have always thought of Bishop Hubbard and myself as colleagues in ministry. That was so in the days when he was doing priestly ministry in the South End, and I was spending a lot of time in Arbor Hill. It has been so during our respective episcopal ministries. There has been a mutual respect and a sense of privilege in serving in Christ's name.
When I think of Bishop Hubbard's ministry during the past 25 years, the word "faithfulness" first comes to mind. He has been faithful to what God has called him to do. And that faithfulness has been accompanied by a steadiness and consistency, which is assuring.
Bishop Hubbard has been especially aware of the relevance of the Faith to the broad range of human activity, and so he has been sensitive to issues which matter in people's lives and for the common good. So there has been breadth as well as depth to his ministry; it has been public in the best sense.
The Right Rev. David S. Ball
Cathedral of All Saints, Albany
It is with great joy that I add my words of affection and appreciation to the chorus of voices celebrating Howard Hubbard's 25 years of service as Bishop of the Diocese of Albany. In a community renowned for many ecumenical/interfaith partners, it is Bishop Hubbard who sets the standard and challenges the rest of us to live our faith outside the box.
As one who has been blessed not only by his leadership in interreligious matters but also by his friendship for nearly 40 years, I thank God for Howard Hubbard, and pray for many more seasons of his life and witness as a faithful shepherd.
Rev. Robert C. Lamar
Pastor Emeritus of First Presbyterian Church