Dear Parish Family,
Back in early March of 2020, the images being broadcast from Italy on our TV screens shocked all of us. Covid-19 was a brand-new phenomenon and Italy was the first country in the Western World to be hit by the tidal wave of infections. The scenes of flooded hospitals and unconscious patients on ventilators stopped us in our tracks.
At that time, seminarian Matt Duclos from Clifton Park was in the midst of his third year of study in Rome. It was becoming clear that if he were to remain in Italy, there would be no guarantee that he could be spared from an assault of the pandemic, nor could his classmate, Stephen Yusko from Hudson. The Diocese made the bold decision to evacuate them from Italy before the border closed. When their flight arrived in New York, they needed to have their temperatures taken at the gate and then proceeded to rent a car, and drove to two strangers’ houses generously provided for 10 days for their quarantine. (Those were the days you’ll remember when Clorox wipes cost $75 a container and toilet paper could not be found anywhere.) The future was a mystery.
The vocation director needed to think quickly and find a place for these seminarians to be able to live and continue their studies and ministry once their quarantines ended, even if it needed to take the form of remote classes and socially-distanced ministry. By God’s providence, Matt was sent to St. Mary’s in Glens Falls, where he would spend the next six months of his life. In that time, he helped the parish to launch a livestream ministry that kept everyone connected during the darkest days of the pandemic and beyond. He served as the glue for parish ministries, did countless tasks that the staff couldn’t do remotely, and, finally, was ordained as a transitional deacon his last week in the parish. Matt chose to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving with his family and guests right here in our parish church.
Matt returned to Rome for his fourth year of seminary for another nine months, and came back to St. Mary’s just in time to become “Fr. Matt” at his ordination as a priest on June 19, 2021. In the midst of one of the hardest times any of us could ever remember, Fr. Matt’s time among us was a beautiful and unexpected blessing.
Fr. Matt has been chosen by Bishop Ed to get a STL (Licentiate in Sacred Theology) which is an advanced seminary degree he will use to serve his future parishes and the Diocese of Albany for the rest of his life. We are all so proud that he has been chosen to represent us as the first American in his particular area of concentration, and that he is willing to be away from home for his first two years of priesthood so he can complete this program. (Imagine all the “firsts” he wishes he could be having here that are happening elsewhere instead. These are the sacrifices made in a life consecrated for service.)
After all the joy Fr. Matt has brought to St. Mary’s, I would like to invite you to join me in bringing some joy to him. The cost of his graduate-level studies, his room-&-board, and assorted other expenses, including travel, is just over $50,000 a year. I propose that we offer him the gift of making our donations to the Diocesan Appeal with the spiritual intention of directing our gift to his education, which is directly funded by the funds raised in the Diocesan Appeal Account. For our parish, I believe it is realistic for us to strive to raise the entire amount of his two years of STL studies – about $110,000 – and to allow him to know that it was a combined effort of all the people of his home-away-from-home parish to sponsor the degree that we’re so proud he was selected to receive.
In order to do this, I have personally calculated the figure that represents 0.5% of my annual income and have chosen to donate that amount to Diocesan Appeal, using the card that was sent to me in the mail. Making this gift and directing it spiritually to Fr. Matt’s education brings me satisfaction and peace. I know that I’m able to make a difference I can see and feel.
Would you consider joining me so we can sponsor Fr. Matt’s two-year degree? If so, please respond to the Diocesan Appeal mail you received; or go today to https://thediocesanappeal.org/. What better Christmas gift could the parish give Fr. Matt as sign of our deep appreciation that God led him to Glens Falls to serve and walk with us during some of our darkest days?