Justice for all

Much has been said and written about Bishop Hubbard's identification with the poor and his care for the vulnerable, and every word of it is true. Nowhere has this been more evident than in his shaping the public policy positions taken by the New York State Catholic Conference, of which he has served as chair of our Public Policy Committee for more than 30 years.

I have spent nearly 25 years working with him, constantly learning from him as he translates and shapes Church teaching into the legislation and policies we promote in the public sphere. He cannot be pigeonholed into man-made categories of "left" or "right;" he is, rather, the epitome of what all Catholics are called to be in public life: fighting for social justice, defending life, being a voice for those that cannot speak for themselves or whose voices are drowned out by the more powerful in society.

He is a meek and humble man, and also a driven and fierce defender of the downtrodden. He is a true champion.
Richard E. Barnes, executive director, New York State Catholic Conference

All faiths believe in justice. Bishop Hubbard, along with New York State United Teachers president Thomas Hobart, founded the Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State in 1980, based on the powerful notion that, in solidarity, faith and labor could win justice for the poor and working people of New York State.

Over the last 33 years, under the leadership of Bishop Hubbard, we have saved jobs, won vital wage increases for New York's lowest-paid workers, instituted living wage ordinances and improved workplace safety and conditions.

To me, Bishop Hubbard embodies a profound approach to sharing God's Love here on earth. Love requires the end of poverty and the restoration of the dignity of work. Peace is achieved when every family has access to healthy food and a stable home. Devotion is not only a spiritual journey marked by church attendance and sacraments, but a lifelong commitment to making the world a better place. This vision is foundational to people of all faiths and religious backgrounds moved to join the struggle for social justice. For many of us fighting on the front lines, Bishop Hubbard's commitment and compassion is a guiding star, even when the landscape is bleak and the way is uncertain. 
Sara Niccoli, executive director, Labor-Religion Coalition of New York State

My coworker

I've worked with Bishop Hubbard for 34 years. I will refrain from commenting on his holiness, his inclusive leadership, his selfless service, and instead reflect on my experience of him. He enjoys being with people, whatever the reason. He has a delightful sense of humor; he loves a good joke and is a bit of a prankster whenever the occasion presents itself. He is always willing to listen and to help whenever he can. His schedule and its demands would exhaust anyone, but "no" is not in his vocabulary. He has taken some hard hits as Bishop, but he has always maintained his dignity and kept a charitable heart through it all. As his time as Bishop begins to wane, I am saddened that we will lose his leadership, but happy that he will have some time to call his own. Knowing him as I do, I am sure his dedication and service to the people of this Diocese will continue to bless us in the years to come. Enjoy your retirement, Bishop. God knows you've earned it!
Sister Nola Brunner, CSJ, diocesan archivist and vicar for religious

Like Pope Francis

Bishop Howard Hubbard is a leader - a humble leader, but a leader with quiet courage and great integrity. He is a respected leader of our U.S. Bishops' Conference, elected by the bishops to lead the committee on international issues and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

This sounds bureaucratic, but it means Bishop Hubbard was a key voice on the Church's efforts to overcome poverty in our country and around the world. He led the bishops' efforts to work for peace in a violent world and for justice in places where the lives and dignity of millions are threatened by hunger, disease and denial of human rights.

He has gone to the White House, Capitol Hill, the State Department and dangerous places around the world to make the case for economic justice, for help for hungry people, for a just peace in the Holy Land and the rights to practice our faith in freedom.

Our new Holy Father has captured our hearts by his simple ways and powerful words. His priorities are reflected in his name: Francis, a saint for the poor, peace, creation and reform of the Church. Bishop Hubbard was a Pope Francis' bishop before there was a Pope Francis.
John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University and former director of the U.S. bishops' department on justice and peace

Always my friend

There are few gifts as great as friendship. I am especially mindful of that since, soon, we celebrate 50 years of priesthood, more than 36 years as Bishop of Albany, and the transition to a new phase of life and ministry of Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, a man I have been privileged to call my friend for more than 55 years.

Through those years, I have known Howard as fellow student, brother priest and, for the last 34 years, as brother in the ministry of Bishop. Those years held for Howard, as they do somehow for all of us, gladness and suffering, joy and pain, highs and lows. In it all, it has been one of the graces of my life to walk with my friend through many of those moments, to marvel at his constancy and maturity; and to note, sometimes with wonder, his unfailing charity, his integrity and his humility.

All of us who have known Howard through the years are aware that he is a person of extraordinary gifts, one who would have been incredibly successful in anything he may have chosen. We rejoice that, by God's grace, Howard accepted the call to priesthood and that he has constantly witnessed to God's love for the least among us and for the broken in all of us.

I look forward to the days ahead when, over some of Howard's favorite salad, pasta and chocolate mousse, we can remember the blessings of the years, thank God for God's faithful love and continue to grow in friendship.
Bishop Matthew H. Clark, Bishop Emeritus of Rochester

Champion for peace

In 1977, just months after he became Bishop, Howard Hubbard had already made a name for himself. A Jesuit friend suggested I work in Albany because of the Bishop's commitment to social justice. I ended up in another diocese, but four decades later I got to work with him. My friend was right.

On the eve of his election as chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, Bishop Hubbard was characteristically humble; he did not expect to win. For decades, he had worked to promote U.S. poverty reduction and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. He had little international experience. That did not slow him down.

During his three years as chairman, he traveled to the Middle East, Nigeria and Sudan. Under his leadership, the U.S. Bishops launched Catholics Confront Global Poverty, a joint initiative with Catholic Relief Services; helped secure the New START Treaty on nuclear disarmament; and supported the peaceful independence of South Sudan.

Bishop Hubbard is a visionary and smart leader. I remember accompanying him to the White House to meet with a National Security Council official. Without a note in front of him, he articulately championed global poverty reduction, human rights and peace.
Dr. Stephen M. Colecchi, director, Office of International Justice and Peace, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Hope House lives on

In 1967, Hope House Inc. was created through the efforts of then-Rev. Howard Hubbard, a humble "street priest" who lived and worked in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the South End of Albany. The community needed education, intervention and real treatment for persons afflicted by substance abuse, instead of just short-term incarceration.

Over the past 46 years, Hope House has grown from a storefront to an agency that operates residential programs, an outpatient clinic, a satellite clinic and a housing program. All of these services were created under the direction of Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, who continues to serve as president of the board.

As executive director of Hope House, I feel supported by the Bishop. I am impressed with his compassion, common sense and selfless willingness to help people in need. On multiple occasions, I have asked him to meet with clients who requested that. He does so willingly, even if it means changing his hectic schedule. I recall asking him to meet with a client who had tragically lost an infant. That meeting provided comfort to a grieving mother. The Bishop, without any request for assistance, then arranged for burial and conducted the service.

Bishop Hubbard is a pioneer in the field of addiction. I regularly have people tell me they are clean and sober only because the Bishop intervened and touched their lives in some way. His unique ability to influence the lives of people must emanate from his deep love and respect for humankind, no matter their status in life.
Kevin M. Connally, executive director, Hope House Inc., Albany

A playful spirit

Late one night in the summer of 1958, I arrived at the counselors' lounge at Camp Tekakwitha and told my tale of woe: I had fallen asleep in my outlying cabin soon after my eight 13-year-olds and left open the window next to my cot. A sudden rainstorm must have come up, I said, because I had just awakened thoroughly soaked.

As I recounted the sad episode, a young seminarian named Howard Hubbard could barely stifle a laugh. There had, in fact, been no rainstorm; instead, "Mr. Hubbard," as the campers then called him, had decided to pour a pail of water through the window on the sleeping Mr. Doyle. (His co-conspirator in that misadventure prefers to remain anonymous, but his initials are Matthew Clark.)

That playful spirit has, I think, never left Howard Hubbard and has given him a delightful balance. The 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once asked why, if Christians really believe what they say, they don't smile more. Bishop Hubbard believes deeply and smiles a lot. He is also unfailingly kind. He models, for me, what Pope Francis says the Church should be about: healing wounds and warming hearts.
Rev. Kenneth J. Doyle, chancellor for public information for the Albany Diocese and pastor, Mater Christi parish, Albany

What you see...

I've known Bishop Hubbard for more than 45 years. I've had the blessing of working with him since the days when he was a priest in the South End of Albany and I was assigned to St. Joseph's in Arbor Hill. After that, we worked together in the Chancery in one capacity or another up until today.

I've often been asked what he is like. What you see is what you get: There are not two Howard Hubbards, one private and one for public consumption. He is a person of absolute integrity; respectful to all and not attached to or swayed by the trappings of power; charitable in his dealings, but with a charity rooted in the truth, even when that truth is difficult to face.

When he has to correct, he does not crush the person, but seeks healing and wholeness. His willingness to dialogue with anyone is rooted in his conviction about what he believes and in his knowledge of who he is before the Lord. He has a deep spirituality rooted in the Gospel and a personal relationship with Jesus. He knows his conscience and that is the root of his peace. He has a great love for the Church as both a spiritual entity and as a visible institution that may be terribly flawed at times, but is also capable of doing immense good. All that the Bishop does and says flows from this dual commitment to the Gospel and to the Church. All other commitments in his life take a back seat.
Rev. Michael Farano, diocesan vicar general and moderator of the curia

A leader like him

When Pope John XXIII began the Second Vatican Council, he said: "The Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity." These words were meant to take the Church in a new direction. Bishop Howard Hubbard was in Rome during that council and it affected him beautifully and deeply.

I met Bishop Hubbard in the early 1960s; I was associate pastor at St. Peter's parish in Troy and teaching at Catholic Central High School. Howard Hubbard had been assigned to study in Rome. Before he departed, I invited him to dinner. I learned that he was a person of great depth.

A few years later, I returned to Emmitsburg, Md., to minister in the seminary, and Howard was ordained a priest. I heard of his outstanding work in Albany's South End, extending himself to the poorest of the poor in a loving, gracious manner.

Then he was ordained a bishop. I [asked whether] he wanted me to stay at Mount St. Mary's or return to Albany. He said: "It's like having money in the bank. Now we are withdrawing it. Come home." I was happy to come back and live at the Chancery with the Bishop. I got to know him very well.

Howard Hubbard has been a great leader. He has been a leader [who made] no condemnations, but rather words of encouragement and the Gospel. He preached of our obligation to the poor. He led by example. He lived the words of John XXIII. When I was appointed coadjutor bishop in Lafayette, La., the only one I wanted to ordain me was Howard Hubbard. It was my hope to be a leader like him.

We thank Bishop Hubbard for his service - years filled with joy and with some pain. It is my hope and prayer that his years of retirement will bring him ample opportunity to enjoy the reflection on his great work and to know the Lord more deeply without the enormous responsibilities of bishop of a diocese.
Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, archbishop emeritus of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minn.

In Albany's South End

I've had the privilege of knowing Bishop Hubbard and being good friends for 55 years. I was blessed to be present at his installation as Bishop, [but our friendship] began as he began his ministry in the South End of Albany, working with Rev. Peter Young in the 1960s. He had been influenced by the beginnings of the Second Vatican Council. In the '60s, we were beginning to deal with issues in the South End of racial concerns, justice, social behavior and the relationship to the old political machine. We found ourselves thinking about the same things.

We knew the Bishop as "Howie;" we got to know each other personally. We were working on the same agendas and our friendship was very important to us. Christians United in Ministry, which became the Capital Region Ecumenical Organization - the Bishop was active in all that. Just recently, as we were celebrating [the 50th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech], we remembered dreaming out loud about what was happening in Albany.
Rev. Robert Lamar, retired pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Albany; former executive director, ecumenical Capital Area Council of Churches

At the time that Rev. Howard Hubbard arrived in the South End of Albany, it was at the height of the uprisings of racial confrontations. He demonstrated, in his ministry, outstanding leadership with his work for the poor and needy as a networking service to bring hope to resolve differences without hostility. I'm a grateful priest for his commitment to the ministry of peace and justice.

He spent 10 years calming me down while enjoying our 10 p.m. nightly visit to Howard Johnson's to share the ideas of how to serve our people with an example of how to use the Christian Gospel to bring peace in those troubled times. Living with him for 10 years, we were bonded with outstanding volunteers.

He lived at St. John's in Albany in the most humble setting that, now, our homeless men have complained about [since the rectory is now being used as a shelter, and what was once the Bishop's room is located under the eaves], but he never complained. That's our Bishop as an example of mission and ministry as his priority. 
Rev. Peter Young, volunteer CEO, Peter Young Housing, Industry and Treatment (www.pyhit.com)

Vision and wisdom

One of the greatest blessings of my life began on Oct. 14, 2003, when Bishop Hubbard invited me "to share my gifts and talents in the Church of Albany as parish life director of St. Patrick, Athens!" Having served the local churches of Hartford, Chicago, Providence, Helena, Bridgeport and New York, coming to the Church of Albany where the whole People of God is empowered and challenged to carry out the mission of Christ renewed the spirit of Vatican II in my life and heart. Being part of a local Church which recognizes, values and appreciates the gifts and ministry of women is truly affirming and life-giving. Being part of a local Church in which men and women are empowered and appointed to serve as parish life directors who pastor and lead communities of faith throughout the 14 counties speaks of a pastoral vision and wisdom that dares to create new models of serving God's People.

Bishop Hubbard, our loving, humble, pastoral shepherd, you have graced and inspired us all. Our hearts overflow with love for and gratitude to you!
Sister Mary L. Mazza, CND, parish life director, Catholic Community of St. Patrick, Athens and Catskill

Spirit of Vatican II

In the 1960s and '70s, I worked in anti-poverty and employment and training programs in Albany County. Time and again, I would seek the help and guidance of then-youthful Howard Hubbard, a compassionate priest who toiled in Albany's depressed inner city. His innovative self-help, community-based programs, including Providence House and Hope House, offered new beginnings to some of society's most marginalized people.

When he was elevated to bishop, it did not change the values of our soft-spoken "street priest." His lifestyle remained unpretentious; his commitment to reach out to the discouraged, addicted and impoverished could now reach thousands more souls.

For a time, it seemed that the spirit of Vatican II, which had broken down the walls between Church and laity and reached out to people of all beliefs, had lost its edge. Bishop Hubbard seemed an anomaly - and then came Pope Francis.

As Howard Hubbard approaches his 75th birthday and offers his resignation to Rome, many of us see a similarity between the simple lifestyle of our new Argentine pontiff and that of the idealistic "street priest" who shepherded us for so many years. Their teaching by example, ministry to the poor and compassion for "the least of my brethren" remind us of what our Christian faith is all about.

The world may marvel at the renewed message of compassion, forgiveness and inclusion emanating from Rome, but for the people of the Albany Diocese, it is the proud testament we have witnessed for most of our lives.
John J. McEneny, New York State Assemblyman (D-Albany, 1993-2012), Catholic, local historian

Shaking students' hands

A few years ago, I got a call from Bishop Hubbard.  He wanted to meet regarding Siena's compliance with the norms of "Ex Corde Ecclesiae," Pope John Paul II's instruction to Catholic colleges and universities.

The meeting took place in my office, not his. It was a conversation, not a lecture. It was open and cordial - no surprise, given his style of pastoral leadership. What Bishop Hubbard was anxious to talk about was Siena's contribution not only to the intellectual life of our students, but to their spiritual formation: what we were doing to instill a sense of justice and compassion for society's most vulnerable and service to neighbors in need. When he left, I found myself wishing he were in the neighborhood more often.

Bishop Hubbard has had a long-standing association with Siena. It was the site of his episcopal ordination in 1977; the friars made him an honorary Franciscan; he is an avid Siena basketball fan. I suspect he could count on one hand the number of Siena commencements he has been unable to attend. He may hold the record for the number of Siena graduates whose hands he has shaken as he congratulated each new alum.

I could not imagine working for a better boss. Siena and its 10th president will miss you, Bishop Hubbard.
Rev. Kevin Mullen, OFM, president, Siena College, Loudonville

Off the charts

Our family moved to the Albany area in 1977. It was a difficult transition. My boss told me we were moving to an exciting new diocese which had just installed the youngest bishop in the country. It was true.

I just completed a survey on the role of diocesan director of religious education. It asked about my relationship with the bishop: Was he involved in our ministry? accessible? easy to communicate with? Did he invite my collaboration? Bishop Hubbard scored off the charts.

Some of my most cherished memories are his persistence in asking me to apply for the position of diocesan director in 1993 when I was sure there was a better candidate...the pride I always felt when someone at a national event realized I was Howard Hubbard's diocesan director...the trust I have felt from him that our programs, speakers and stewardship of resources were respectful...helping him shape his talk on the spirituality of the catechist for the 1996 East Coast conference, after which he was offered a book contract for "I Am Bread Broken"...38 trips to CLI facilities to bless youth leaders...stopping for pasta on the way home...our gratitude and relief at World Youth Day Denver in 1993, when a teen who had not returned to our site stepped out of a cab...2002, when he sat on the steps of the Pastoral Center with me as a parent waiting for his "kids" to come home from Toronto World Youth Day...his ability at confirmations to make the world stop by looking directly at each young person and speaking personally.

I have often felt like Lou Gehrig in his final speech: I also have been the luckiest person in the world.
Jeanne D. Schrempf, director, diocesan Office of Evangelization, Catechesis and Family Life

An interfaith pioneer

Bishop Hubbard worked closely with my [late] husband, Rabbi Martin Silverman of Temple Beth Emeth in Albany. That's how I began my friendship with the Bishop. He would come to the house for dinner. They could discuss anything; they'd sit at the dining room table and just talk, talk, talk. The Bishop is a very special man, extremely caring; they did a lot of interfaith work. They had gone to Israel [in 1983] and Rome together; the trip to Israel may have been the second interfaith trip in the U.S. It was the beginning of some very exciting things in the community. Our community is a pioneer in Jewish-Catholic dialogue. Everything became very intense as a result of the Bishop's participation with the Jewish community. We developed "From Fear to Friendship," [a historic 1986 service of reconciliation and healing between the Catholic and Jewish communities, held at Albany's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception]. He was instrumental in helping us find a place for our soup kitchen. Most people respect him the same way I do. He's an extraordinary person. We continued our friendship after my husband passed away. He met many people in my family, and every time we got together, [he'd say,] "How are they, Phyllis?"
Phyllis Silverman, co-chair, Jewish/Roman Catholic Dialogue Committee

He was there for me

I was asked to study Spanish in Bolivia as part of the formation process for priesthood in 2010. I feared living with a host family that didn't speak English and worried about what I read in travel books: "Kidnapping is a real risk;" "Parasites are part of the experience;" "Americans are not well-liked."

My flight departed on the day of priesthood ordination - and this was the year that Bishop Hubbard was ordaining five new priests in one day. I brought my suitcase to the ordination. I felt sick with anxiety.

As the procession began, I joined in the singing. Midway through, people were trying to get my attention: "The bishop wants to see you!" He had halted the procession.

I went over to the aisle. The Bishop said, "I know you're going to Bolivia today. I want to give you my blessing." Rev. Dan Quinn, then also a seminarian bound for Bolivia, was at my side. I felt a surge of strength and grace from that blessing. The Bishop looked at us with compassion and love. Despite all that was going on for him that day, he was with us in our distress.

I understood what blind Bartimaeus might have felt when Jesus stopped while passing by him. I returned to my seat in time to sing, "Lord, you bless with words assuring, 'I am with you to the end.'" On a day I badly needed him, he stopped, cut through the crowds and was there for me.
Rev. Scott VanDerveer, associate pastor, St. Mary's, Oneonta

Committed to vocations

No one can question Bishop Hubbard's commitment to priestly vocations. One only needs to look at this new model for vocations which he developed over the past several months. As he retires, he wants to ensure the Albany Diocese will have holy priests who will serve the Diocese faithfully in the future. His commitment to vocations is a true sign of what a shepherd does: making sure the flock is cared for.
Rev. Anthony Ligato, diocesan director of vocations and pastor of St. Jude the Apostle parish, Wynantskill

Bishop Hubbard's wise, patient, compassionate counsel and availability to those in formation for priesthood has always edified me.  May God bless him for his example of faithful and steadfast servant leadership as our shepherd.
Sister Rosemary Ann Cuneo, CR, diocesan Vocations Team member and pastoral associate for parish ministries at St. Henry's parish, Averill Park

Bishop Hubbard is a great supporter of the diaconate. He has suggested it was one of the greatest gifts of the Second Vatican Council. After he appointed me director of diaconate formation, he shared his vision and suggested two questions for men applying to the diaconate: first, will the man make a good public servant; and second, what qualities does he have that the Church needs? These questions have helped form the process we use in the Albany Diocese for diaconate formation. The Bishop continues to offer suggestions to assure our process is the best possible.
Deacon Frank Berning, diocesan director of pastoral planning and director of ­initial formation for the diaconate

Bishop Hubbard always had an open-door policy with our seminarians; they appreciated his willingness to listen to their thoughts or concerns.
Rev. James Walsh, formerly of diocesan Vocations Team, now pastor of St. Pius X parish, Loudonville

On behalf of the brothers of the Albany Diocese, I thank Bishop Hubbard for his encouragement and support of the religious vocation of brothers. I speak for the Conventual Franciscans, Friars Minor (Siena College and St. Anthony's parish, Troy), Christian Brothers and Holy Cross Brothers. 
Brother Stephen Merrigan, OFMConv., diocesan Vocations Team

A priest with brains

For a friend, you can't beat a good priest - with brains. I learned that early and have found, among the best and brightest, Bishop Howard Hubbard.

I left New York's Capital District in 1983 for Rome and later Washington, but the Church of Albany always remained home. Albany radiates a Church family spirit. Albany Church leaders don't stand on ceremony. They care for people. They make visitors feel at home. They see a need and try to meet it. Such leadership comes from the top.

When I return to Silver Spring, Md., after a celebration with my religious community in Albany, friends ask for the details. I report on an inspiring liturgical celebration, music that reaches the heavens, a crowded chapel and, often, that the Bishop presided. The latter startles many sisters and I find myself explaining, "Bishop Hubbard is our friend."

When Bishop Hubbard has attended meetings of the U.S. bishops in Washington, he often has addressed justice issues. He has spoken knowledgably, incisively and clearly. Listening to him, I've said to those around me, "I'm from Albany. He's my Bishop."

People old and young, rich and poor, bright and challenged, have known Bishop Hubbard, asked his advice and sought his comfort. We've done so wisely because, for a friend, you can't beat a good priest - with brains.
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, RSM, director of media relations, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops