BISHOP EMERITUS HOWARD J. HUBBARD reached a milestone recently: his 40th anniversary as a bishop. The jubilee of his episcopal ordination was marked with a Mass with priests of the Albany Diocese at St. Pius X parish in Loudonville. Above, Bishop Emeritus Hubbard at the consecration with Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger and fellow priests. (Nate Whitchurch photo)
BISHOP EMERITUS HOWARD J. HUBBARD reached a milestone recently: his 40th anniversary as a bishop. The jubilee of his episcopal ordination was marked with a Mass with priests of the Albany Diocese at St. Pius X parish in Loudonville. Above, Bishop Emeritus Hubbard at the consecration with Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger and fellow priests. (Nate Whitchurch photo)
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Bishop Emeritus Howard J. Hubbard doesn't quite fit the definition of "retired."

Three years into his official retirement, he's serving on the boards of The College of Saint Rose> and St. Anne Institute in Albany, the board for the addiction recovery center Hope House Inc., the national Interfaith Worker Justice board and the board of Fostering Futures NY, which serves foster families.

He's also teaching in the Albany Diocese's diaconate program, pitching in at parishes needing a fill-in priest to celebrate weekend Masses, participating in the Diocese's Residents Encounter Christ (REC) program for people who are incarcerated and serving as chaplain for Albany County Nursing Home.

Then there are the confirmations: Ten this season alone, assisting Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger in offering the sacrament across the Albany Diocese's 10,000 square miles.

"People ask me to do things. If I'm free, I'm happy to," the Bishop Emeritus said.

His face was a bit red as he spoke, but that's because he'd gotten sunburned during a Florida vacation -- a perk of retirement that allowed him to take in two spring training baseball games.

"I thought we were sitting in the shade!" he said of the venture.

It was another blow, he joked, when he realized during the vacation that his friend Bishop Emeritus Matthew Clark of the Rochester Diocese had cheated him out of his rightful due: Bishop Hubbard, a Boston Red Sox fan, sat through a 10-inning New York Yankees game the Yanks won, while the Sox game Bishop Clark agreed to attend in turn included only second-string players -- and the Sox were pummeled, 12-0.

That rivalry "has been a thorn in our side for 60 years," declared Bishop Emeritus Hubbard.

Back in the Diocese in time for a celebration of his 40th anniversary as a bishop, the Bishop Emeritus said his schedule is "nothing like it was" when he was responsible for shepherding a Diocese of well over 300,000 Catholics.

"You don't realize how much stress is relieved when you're not the decision-maker," he reflected. "You just get used to [the pressure], but it does take an emotional toll."

Is he happy in retirement? "I would say so, yes. You don't worry about getting a phone call that's going to open up a crisis."

Bishop Emeritus Hubbard said he's also gotten the chance to participate in events like serving as a chaplain at sessions of the Chautauqua Institute, a southwestern New York arts community. He's done that twice now, and said he enjoyed attending many of the music events in various genres that the institute sponsors.

As for his 40th year as a bishop, the Bishop Emeritus said he hadn't thought about it much.

Although he was the youngest bishop in the United States when he was appointed in 1977 at the age of 38, and also retired as the longest-tenured bishop, he's got a while to go before he meets the record of predecessor Bishop Edmund Gibbons.

Bishop Gibbons led the Albany Diocese from 1919-54 and lived another 10 years in retirement, so he spent 45 years as a bishop.

But "I'm more concerned about health than setting records," said Bishop Emeritus Hubbard, who recovered well from a heart attack two years ago.

The Bishop Emeritus insisted that his anniversary celebration last week at St. Pius X Church in Loudonville be low-key: just a Mass open to priests only, with "a bite to eat afterward."

For his homily, he planned to focus on the Scripture readings of the day -- which involved the importance of truth-telling, something he calls "important, in an age of alternative facts."

He also planned to talk about joy.

"It's a hallmark of Christian life," he stated. "It's important that we, as priests, radiate the joy of Christ."