It is just over a year since I retired as co-pastor of Holy Family Parish, in Gloucester and Rockport, settling in Rockport.
After officiating at various functions (Sunday Mass, funerals, weddings and Baptisms) I find people saying; “I thought you were retired.” My response is always: Retirement does not mean that one stops doing what he or she likes, but it is doing it in a new way. Being responsible for the administration of a large parish plant with aging buildings and not sufficient income did not allow me the time “to be.”
I am so fortunate to live with the ocean literally outside my window. I fall asleep with sound of the surf, and I awake to many magnificent sunrises. I was reminded of how fortunate we are to live by the rocky New England coast when I met some guests at a wedding from the state of Washington. They were in awe of our coastline.
I now try to put some rhythm in my life. I find time for exercise, riding a stationary bike, using the speed bag and a little weight lifting. This helps to keep me mobile as muscles began to stiffen.
Prayer is also an important part of my life, with little to interrupt me; save the needs of my companion, Tom, the West Highland terrier.
I also have new responsibilities. I serve as a member of the Board of Directors for Grace House Inc., a day shelter for those who find themselves on the street or are in crisis. I serve as shift supervisor on one of the shifts. My main task is to see that our wonderful volunteers and guests enable Grace Center to abide by our mission to make this a place of acceptance, hospitality and opportunity for all. As long as I can continue in ministry, I have discerned that I want to be among those whom society often rejects. You may ask why do I share all this? I do so in the hope that others who reach retirement might do similar things; be grateful if you have health and ability.
Do not see retirement as an end but a new beginning. As I was typing this reflection the song “All Good Gifts,” from the musical “Godspell,” kept running through my mind.
“All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above.
Then thank the Lord, thank the Lord
For all His love.”
Father Ronald J. Gariboldi is retired co-pastor of Holy Family Parish, based in Gloucester. Midweek Musings is a column rotated among Cape Ann clergy.