“GOD’S LOVE IN ACTION”
Two months have flown by since our last Newsletter then in the Season of Lent and now nearing Ascension Thursday and ten days later the Great Feast of Pentecost! Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Two weeks ago today we were blessed and delighted with one of our finest Fund Raising Dinners. We often refer to them as “Friend Raising” and so they are. So many of our “old” friends are there who have supported Unity Acres from the beginning and many newer and new friends who are supporting the Acres at present. Dave Pasinski who emceed the event, remembered many who have gone on and there were tears in evidence.
Carol Berrigan was presented with a bouquet of flowers as her beloved Jerry was lovingly remembered. Jerry passed on during the past year. Many others were remembered and I will not try to list them here for fear of missing someone.
Nick Orth and Michael DeSalvo put on a beautiful meal. We started with punch and crackers/cheese and fruit and the main menu was stuffed chicken, potatoes and green beans. Each of these done to perfection. A strawberry custard was served for dessert. Father Fred Daily hosted this gala event and we are most grateful to him and his good parish. Nick and Michael’s waiters and waitresses were from All Saints and were most efficient and friendly. Scenes of Unity Acres were shown throughout the event on a large screen.
The evening opened with Father Bob Jones leading everyone in prayer and then Dave Pasinski introduced his co-chair Elaine Crough who presented three of us with beautiful framed hand painted (by Elaine) scenes with Scripture readings to our Steve Dickhout, Father Bob Jones and yours truly in recognition to 25 Years Service to the Men of Unity Acres. We were most humbled, surprised and grateful for this honor. Thank-you Elaine and to all who participated in this complete surprise and honor. Father Jones and myself were at St. Mary’s, Cleveland and its Mission, St. Bernadette’s and began our time at Unity Acres in the Fall of 1991 when the call came out for a “New Team” as Father McVey and Kate were preparing to retire because of Father McVey’s health.
At the same time, the group heard from a young man (Steve Dickhout) who wanted to give one year to the Catholic Worker. Father and I began a 2 day a week stint coming up here from our Parish where Father was Pastor and yours truly was Pastoral Associate and DRE. We arrived here full time on July 1, 1992. Steve had continued full time right from that time in the fall of 1991. After six months, Father McVey was feeling much better and asked Father Jones and myself to go out and find/found a house of hospitality which was one of Father McVey’s dreams – that every parish have one. Within 2-3 months our Elizabeth House in Bernhards Bay on the North Shore of Oneida Lake was born where we served lunches to many folks who came not only for the soup and sandwiches each week but for the wonderful “fellowship” that occurred around those lunches. We enjoyed that Ministry for eleven years and as we wrote the folks at its closing, “There is a time for everything” as in Ecclesiastes 3:1. It was time for Father Jones and myself to move on full time at Unity Acres and at the same time, the luncheon was able to be expanded and has continued at St. Bernadette’s under OCO and wonderful volunteers lead by my daughter-in-law, Deirdre McCarthy. During those years with Elizabeth House, we continued our association and help up here at Unity Acres and Father Jones has been its Chaplain since Father McVey’s death in 1995. All through those years however, Steve served here at Unity Acres. Steve was “anointed” by Father McVey on Father’s deathbed to serve here as Director following in Father’s footsteps. The Journey has been a happy one but not without its difficulties and sadness.
Father McVey’s death occurred April 21, 1995 and Kate Stanton followed him exactly six months later on October 21. Carol Guthrie who was a longtime live-in volunteer died in 2004 after a lengthy illness. Bill Spurrier (Brother Marcellus) who also was here for many years as a live-in volunteer died very suddenly the night of his 65th Birthday in 2008. Bill’s death was a sudden and terrible blow to the men, the staff and all of Unity Acres. God never closes one door without opening another however and Loretta Dickhout, Steve’s mom, was retired from her work/ministry at an Adult Home and soon came on board where she still is along with Steve, Father Bob, myself and our Bear Foote. The five of us are assisted by Aleata Leete and Deb & John Carnes. The eight of us would be unable to do all that is involved in taking care of a Community such as ours and because we are a Community, we operate together with the men doing the work of cooking, cleaning, maintenance, driving, laundry, trash, taking care of the Chapel, the grounds, the pigs, cutting wood and many, many other chores associated with a family. We call it Collaborative Ministry. Between the Board of Directors, the Men and the Staff, Unity Acres exists as a Community, as a Family. And then with you folks as our supporters, you round out the way this wonderful Community can be here for those who need its Ministry. It is a Home for otherwise Homeless Men many of whom have addictions to alcohol and/or drugs.
Father, Kate, Carol and Bill are buried here in our St. Martin de Porres Cemetery with many, many of our men who have died throughout all of these 47 years. We recently celebrated our 47th Anniversary March 3, the day Father and five men first came to the former Oswego County Sanitarium, now Unity Acres.
(Continued, April 30)
Trillium graceful, Trillium white,
Star of the woodland, lady of light.
….Miklena Mateska – & from online article by Sharon Brown.
As we take a walk through the woods behind our cemetery we breathe in the peace and tranquility of this holy ground. The trillium is just beginning to bloom along with myrtle, violets and many wild flowers too many for me to describe (Steve can list them all – even their botanical names). It is spring at the Acres when the men are on the benches taking a break from their many chores and soaking up the warm sunshine. God is good.
Mary Agnes and Jan lead us in a song in Chapel entitled Thank You God For Your Blessings On Us and so we do thank God for this place. As the song goes “for a roof up above me, I’ve a good place to sleep, there’s food on my table and shoes on my feet, You gave us your love Lord, we’re a fine family, Thank you God for your blessings on me.” And we do thank God for Unity Acres and the many men who become a part of this blessed family.
We received notice this week that Dave Pasinski will be honored this coming week along with his lovely wife Geri with the Dorothy Day Award at St. Lucy’s. We are proud of our Dave. He has been an important part of Unity Acres for quite a few years and has served for many years on our Board of Directors. Congratulations Dave & Geri.
I mentioned earlier in this newsletter that there is also sadness along the way and today we learned of the passing of Father Dan Berrigan. Dan Berrigan was one of the brothers of our Jerry Berrigan who passed on last year. They and their brother Phil, also deceased, were examples to all of us for standing up against adversity, Government, war, and violence following one’s conscience. Most of us don’t have the courage for such activism even though we admire those who do. The world is poorer now that the three brothers Berrigan have passed on. Thank you Phil, Dan and Jerry for your many acts of heroism standing up for peace and justice. We offer our condolences to their family and especially to our Carol, Jerry’s bride.
We send Get Well wishes to Aleata Leete, Staff Assistant and Director on our Board. We miss you and pray for your recovery and return to us soon.
PRAYER EASTER SEASON
RESURRECTION, NEW LIFE
“I GIVE YOU A NEW COMMANDMENT, LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU”
SPIRIT OF GOD, WE PRAY. MAKE THIS NEW COMMANDMENT – LOVE – LIVE. LIVE IN OUR HEARTS. HELP US TO DO THE WORKS OF MERCY FOR ALL – FOR BY THESE WORKS, WE WILL BE LOVING OTHERS, AND THEREFORE LOVING YOU. MAY OUR LOVE BE MARKED BY PATIENCE, UNDERSTANDING, HUMILITY AND COMPASSION. MAY WE BE PEOPLE OF LOVE IN ACTION.
“I WILL RETURN TO YOU AND MAKE MY DWELLING WITH YOU” ALLELUIA John 14:23
THE LOVE OF GOD HS BEEN POURED INTO OUR HEARTS THROUGH THE SPIRIT OF GOD DWELLING WITHIN US, ALLELUIA. Romans 5:5
Father Robert Jones