September 9, 2018

          Here we are three weeks since our Annual Unity Acres Outdoor Mass and Picnic. This year marked a difficult one for us as it was the first one in many years without our beloved Chaplain, Father Robert Jones. Father Jones had been with us since the fall of 1991 and shared in the annual picnic beginning the summer of 1992 when the ‘Torch’ was passed from Father Raymond McVey.
           Father McVey’s retirement from Unity Acres was of short duration – only six months. He returned to the Acres in January of 1993, but his health failed in March 1995 and he passed on from his illness shortly thereafter on April 21 of that same year. And so Father Jones had been our Chaplain ever since, until his passing on July 22, 2018. It is difficult and painful carrying on without him.
          This year we were privileged to have our dear friend from the days of St. Francis Farm in the 90’s, Father Tom McNamara, O.F.M.Cap. to preside at our Mass. Father Tom was well received and all enjoyed his homily urging us to not be afraid to get our hands dirty and stepping out of our comfort zone and to take the road less traveled. Father is a Franciscan, Capuchin priest and pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in New York City. He has a longtime association with Unity Acres and St. Francis Farm and had a close friendship with Father Jones, Father Moritz Fuchs and Father Ted Sizing. The Mass and Picnic this year was held on August 19 which was Father Ted’s birthday and the 2nd month anniversary of Father Fuchs’ death. It was in Loving Memory of Father Jones and included tributes to Fathers Sizing and Fuchs.
          Our Director Steve Dickhout welcomed all to this annual occasion and explained to those who had not heard, that Father Jones had passed on after having been in Seneca Hill Manor for four months after a fall and subsequent cerebral hemorrhage. Also that we usually would have had our beloved long time organist Mary Agnes Alrutz-Roy leading us in a gathering song, but that Mary Agnes had just died in St. Ann’s Rehab Facility in Rochester after months of struggling with a brain tumor.
           Following the theme of this year, our Mass opened with Jim & Deirdre McCarthy leading us in Dan Schutte’s “If the Lord does not build a house, then in vain do the builders labor”. We pray that our house here at Unity Acres has been built by The Lord and The Lord will keep us going for many years to come.

          The first reading delivered by Steve was from the Prophet Isaiah, Chapter 25, Verses 6,7-9, “On this mountain, the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples. On this mountain, He will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; He will destroy death forever. The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces….” This reading from Isaiah speaks to us especially at this time of grief on our part.

        IF TODAY YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS from Psalm 95 we answer Jim during the Responsorial… “we are the people He shepherds, the flock He guides. Let us sing joyfully to the Lord, let us come into His presence with thanksgiving….”
          And again following our theme for the year, the 2nd Reading done by Bill Kimball was from 1st Peter, Chapter 2, Verses 5-8,  “And now you have become living building stones for God’s use in building His house… see I am sending Christ to be the carefully chosen, precious cornerstone of my church, and I will never disappoint those who trust in Him.” We pray that we don’t reject Him, “The same stone that was rejected by the builders that became the Cornerstone, the most honored and important part of the building.”

ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA ―        A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John, Chapter 21, Verses 1-18. “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus asked Peter ‘Do you really love me’, ‘Lord you know I love you, and Jesus answered ‘Feed my Sheep’”― three times Jesus asked Peter, and three times Jesus said to Peter, ‘Feed my lambs, feed my sheep’. The Gospel started out with the disciples fishing to no avail until Jesus instructed them to cast their nets over the right side and their nets were full and then they ate breakfast with Jesus. This Gospel passage ends with words that have struck a prophetic message to Father Jones, ‘Amen I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go were you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’  Father Jones lived these words of Scripture in his final illness and has now been released from that suffering.
          During the Offertory, Carey Landry’s beautiful song Do You Really Love Me repeated beautifully in song the dialogue between Jesus and Peter and the final verse asks all of us “Do you really love me, Jesus said to me, Yes we really love you, we will follow you. Then feed my sheep He said, My people feed my sheep.” These words speak to you and me. We must follow Jesus and on the way tend to and feed His sheep, our fellow people.
          The Mass progresses through the Prayer of the Faithful and the powerful words of the Canon and then all join hands in the Lord’s Prayer and finally proceed to receive the Bread of Life, the Body & Blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ, left for us as an eternal covenant. Strains of Weston Priory’s Come to Me fill our campus as the faithful receive this living bread, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy burdened, and I shall give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you’ll find rest for your souls. Yes my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” These words and this song were favorites of Father Jones, words that sustained him through life and are printed on his prayer card. 

          Before closing and after the Communion Song, we all join with Jim & Deirdre in another of Father’s and that is the Garden Song by David Mallett and was sung as a special tribute to Father and all our gardeners, Fr. Fuchs, St. Francis Farm, Frs. Ted and Tom and our Henry. “Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow…  someone bless these seeds I sow, someone keep them warm below, ’till the rain comes tumbling down.”
          Father Tom leads us in the Closing Prayers of this holy Mass and time devoted to Father Jones with Fathers Fuchs and Sizing also in our hearts and we then join in Padre’s theme song: “SMILE, DON’T YOU KNOW GOD LOVES YOU, COME TO THINK OF IT I LOVE YOU TOO, TAKE THE TIME TO SMILE AT SOMEONE AND BEFORE YOU’RE THROUGH, SOMEONE WILL BE SMILING BACK AT YOU.”
          We will try to keep smiling, Padre. It’s not easy but we must remember the words of the 2nd verse, “Do you ever feel that you are all alone? Remember God’s love for you is strong, and soon your heart will sing this happy song”.

          And now the Assembly moves over to the STAR Building where a picnic feast of Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Salads, beans, corn, fresh tomatoes from our garden along with scrumptious desserts and plenty of soda await the hungry crowd. All of this lovingly prepared and arranged by our kitchen crew along with Loretta and Mary, and helping to serve were Helen, Joan, Kathy and Bill, Gary, Roger, John, Tom, Al, and Louis.
          A video presentation rolls on in the Pool Room arranged by photographer Bob W. along with Bear Foote. Also collages of photos and articles grace the dining room, reminding us of times past.
          We try to visit with each guest but the time goes by so fast that before we know it people are heading for their vehicles and our annual outdoor Mass and Picnic are history for another year. We thank all of you that are such faithful followers and supporters of Unity Acres. We are planning and looking forward to the 50th Anniversary next Spring.

God Bless you.
Most Sincerely,
Peg McCarthy



August 1, 2018

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”     —Matthew, 11, 28-30

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word…”Luke 2, 29

           Many of you will have perhaps already learned of our sad news concerning Father Jones. Father Jones died early on the morning of Sunday, July 22, at the Manor at Seneca Hill Nursing Home, in Oswego. He had been admitted to the Manor subsequent to a fall during the morning of Palm Sunday. Peg maintained a continuous watch over Father’s progress, and we continued to hope that he might be well enough and strong enough to return to the Acres, until Father’s health took a sudden turn for the worse on Friday the 20th. During the day Saturday, Father’s sick-bed was attended by friends and family. During the late evening of Saturday through Sunday morning, Peg, Loretta, and Steve sat vigil with Father Jones until his death at 3.35am, while Bear kept watch over the Acres.

          The following days are a bit of blur, as plans for liturgies and arrangements were made: calling hours and the Vigil for Priests at Saint Lucy’s, funeral mass at Unity Acres, and burial at Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Dewitt. We are so grateful to everyone who attended the services both here and in Syracuse: your presence was a consolation! And we regret the oversights we made in failing to call or email people whom we should have contacted.
           The vigil and funeral mass were intended to give honor and recognition to Father Jones for his 58 years of service as a priest, and for his long-time service at Unity Acres which began in 1991. In keeping with Father’s sunny disposition, there was laughter, as well as tears, the sharing of anecdotes, and an account of the origins of Dr. Gootch’s (in)famous ‘Binomial Theory.’
           During the graveside service, Father Jones was laid to rest next to the graves of his mother and father and his well-loved brother Don. A small container of soil from our Saint Martin de Porres Cemetery had been fetched and emptied onto the casket and into the grave, so that a part of Unity Acres could be made part of Father Jones’ final resting place.
           Father Bob: May the angels greet you, and bring you to that place of rest and refreshment, where Lazarus is poor no longer. Rest in Peace.




June 27, 2018

           Our last newsletter was dated February 25, and in that letter we talked about various building projects past, present, and future, with the promise to provide more details in the coming months, both in the newsletters and on the projects tab.
          Also, we announced the time and the place of the then-upcoming annual ‘friend-raiser’ dinner: April 19 at All Saints Parish in Syracuse ― with the theme, You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house. We had in mind when settling on that theme that we would be devoting our time and resources during the spring to the completion of certain necessary repairs to the ‘Brick Building.’
           We were also then preparing a quiet commemoration of Unity Acres’ 49th anniversary on March 3rd, with the intent of a more extensive celebration of our 50th anniversary during 2019.

           Subsequent to our last mailings, though, and early in the morning of Palm Sunday, Father Jones suffered a fall in his room, which led to a 911 call, transportation by ambulance to Oswego Hospital, and from there to the ICU at University Hospital in Syracuse where remained until the Wednesday of Holy Week. Then followed an admission to the Manor at Seneca Hill Nursing Home in Oswego for rehabilitation. He was close to the point of discharge from the Manor, until a set-back on April 4 necessitated Father’s being re-admitted to Oswego Hospital until the following Monday. He returned to the Manor, where he has been ever since, working hard at PT, OT and Speech Therapy. During all this time, Peg McCarthy has been an unwavering support and advocate for Father Jones, while Debbie Carnes has increased her availability and presence here at the Acres – thanks Deb!
             Father has been able to take a few day-passes from the Manor, including two visits to the Acres, and a few other social occasions. As of today’s date, we anticipate (and are looking forward to) Father’s return to the Acres in July. The last three months have taken a great toll on him, and on Peg, and on our little community at large as well. Father’s daily presence here (and Peg’s) have been greatly missed so we will be glad to have him home soon.

           Our annual celebration of Unity Acres took place as scheduled with Dave Pasinski as our Em-Cee and principle organizer, with Nick Orth of Friends of Dorothy as our caterer, and Father Fred Daley and the people of All Saints as our hosts. It was a great pleasure to spend time with and share a meal with caring and generous supporters; to have a few moments to share memories and hopes for the future, to remember those who have come before us and those of our men we’ve lost during the last year.

           Honorees for the evening were Mike and Elaine Crough, and Loretta Dickhout (my mother). Mike and Elaine have been involved with the Acres for many years, with Elaine serving currently as a member of our board and Mike as our former president, and ‘smart lawyer-friend’ who guided Unity Acres through the process of incorporation in 1999-2000. My mother shared her story of first visiting Unity Acres with her friend JoAnne, during the early 1970s, never supposing that she would be as deeply involved here as she has over years since ‘retiring’.
          Elaine, Mike and Loretta received as a token of the appreciation of the evening’s organizers beautiful plaques each inscribed with a message of love and gratitude, and each bearing a photo of the ‘Stone Chapel’.
           Later that evening, Bear Foote, who had been on duty at the Acres, and therefore absent from the dinner, received a similar plaque in recognition of his service to the Unity Acres community.

          Around the same time as arrangements were being made for the dinner at All Saints, we learned from Dave that Kate Stanton was to be honored by Saint Lucy’s Church in Syracuse. Her photo would be added to Saint Lucy’s ‘Path of the Peacemakers’ – this honor coincided closely with what would have been Kate’s 100th birthday on April 24 this year.
           Kate has been part of the story of Unity Acres from the very early days in the late 1960s, joining with Father McVey, Father Ted Sizing, Frank Woolever and many others in the first efforts to acquire the old TB Sanitarium property in Orwell which we have occupied since March 3, 1969. Kate spent the next 25 years of her life dealing with endless problems, bringing order out of chaos, begging, organizing, praying, until the day of her death on October 21, 1995. How appropriate that Kate would be remembered at Saint Lucy’s—a church she loved so well. Thank-you, Saint Lucy’s!

Steve Dickhout