VENICE | The priests serving or living in the Diocese celebrating their 25th and 50th anniversaries were recognized for their years of service to Holy Mother Church March 27 during the annual Chrism Mass at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.
During a reception in the Parish hall, the 14 Jubilarian priests combined to celebrate 600 years of service, and the three deacons another 75 years, impressive numbers that bespeak their commitment to the faithful wherever they have served. Bishop Frank J. Dewane congratulated the Jubilarians for achieving such impactful milestones.
Ten priests celebrated their Golden Jubilee, 50 years, combining for 500 years of service alone: Fathers Robert Beaven, Richard J. Beligotti, Robert L. Beligotti, Joseph F. Connolly, Thomas J. Boyer, Thomas J. Glackin, R. Michael Guarino, Bruce M. Hennington, Robert B. Mattingly, and Thomas Mullane.
Father Connolly spoke for the Golden Jubilarians at the reception. Ordained in 1968 as a Third Order Regular Franciscan and the current Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish in Sarasota, he noted that with time he has gained a renewed perspective on his sacramental ministry.
Giving advice to the seminarians and younger priests present, Father Connolly said, “People will love you almost automatically, but you will be held to the highest standards.” Reflecting on his own years as a priest, he noted that “after 50 years of faithful service we Jubilarians come to realize just how much God loves us, how Jesus works through us, and how the Holy Spirit still inspires us.”
Priests celebrating their Silver Jubilee, 25 years, were Fathers Jiobani D. Batista, Robert M. Murphy, Thobias Sabariar, Missionaries of Compassion, and Michael A. Scheip.
Father Batista, Pastor of St. Margaret Parish and Santa Rosa de Lima Mission, both in Clewiston, spoke for the Silver Jubilarians. He said the most important lesson he learned in 25 years was being with the faithful “in their struggles, in their pains, in their joys, in every single moment makes a huge difference in the priesthood. I need to be a priest for the people and I have learned from these experiences which has given me meaning for my priesthood.”
The deacons celebrating their Silver Jubilee were Deacons Kenneth A. Nowicki, George Riegger, and Forrest Wallace.
Deacon Wallace first credited his wife with making him the deacon he has been and is to this day. “We are an order that serves,” he said. “Answering the call is a discovery on a lifelong voyage.”