Seniors’ lives are examples of service
Seniors’ lives are examples of service
Two women. Two stories. Countless lives changed.
Elaine Mecier of Christ Our Light parish in Loudonville and Anne Tremblay of St. Mary’s in Crescent are two of the many dedicated parishioners in the Albany Diocese to receive this year’s Capital District Senior Lifetime Achievement Award.
The award from the Capital District Senior Issues Forum, an interfaith group supporting area seniors, recognizes those at least 85 years of age who have made significant accomplishments through business, education, faith-based service, community service, military service or caregiving.
Mrs. Mecier and Mrs. Tremblay were honored for their service to their parishes at a ceremony in October at Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany. Deacon
Dick Thiesen, parish life director at Christ Our Light, spoke on behalf of both women at the ceremony.
“I was flabbergasted,” said Mrs. Mecier of the award. “I almost fell to the floor.”
Terry Russ, pastoral care coordinator at Christ Our Light, nominated her friend for the award. She said Mrs. Mecier “is the full package” when it comes to volunteering.
Mrs. Mecier was a parishioner at Our Lady of Mercy parish in Colonie for more than 50 years before its merger with St. Francis de Sales in Loudonville to become Christ Our Light. She was the parish photographer for church events; a visitation minister for local hospitals, nursing homes and the homebound. She decorated the church for holidays, helped launder the priest’s vestments and was a member of the funeral team.
Of all her volunteering, Mrs. Mecier spoke most highly of her time with the homebound. Getting to talk with them and make friend with everyone she visits brightens her day, she said.
Mrs. Russ added that Mrs. Mecier is a known “hugger” in the parish: Everything she does for the community is done “with a smile and a warm hug.”
The 91-year-old is also a practiced baker, and can be found dropping off various pies and homemade cookies at the parish office from time to time. “I bake for birthdays, anniversaries [and] holidays,” she told The Evangelist.
Jeanne Gracon, pastoral care associate at St. Mary’s, nominated Mrs. Tremblay for her award for being “deeply involved in many facets of the parish.” Mrs. Tremblay worked on the pastoral council, helped organize parish bus trips and was a eucharistic minister.
Most notable was Mrs. Tremblay’s role as parish historian. Around 2003, Mrs. Tremblay was asked to organize dozens of boxes and bags of old newspaper clippings, photos and more into a history of the parish. She spent years traveling around the Albany Diocese, fact-checking information with various priests and local libraries. Her work paid off when the parish celebrated its 150th anniversary this past year, using the history
The 86-year-old is a still active in her parish as a member of the social committee, where she helps decorate the parish for events and sends out birthday cards to parishioners.
Joy of service
Both Mrs. Mecier and Mrs. Tremblay were humble in their work, noting that what they do isn’t work, but a joy: “Everybody works so hard, I’m just lucky to be there,” said Mrs. Tremblay.
The two women were born and raised in Rensselaer County. Mrs. Mecier lived in Rensselaer’s Hampton Manor area; Mrs. Tremblay was raised in an Italian neighborhood of Troy.
Every Sunday, Mrs. Tremblay would help her family make homemade pasta, meatballs and sauce before walking to Mass at St. Anthony’s Church down the street. She attended Troy High School, where she worked on the school newspaper and was on the cheerleading team, and she ushered at a local theater. She was voted “most popular girl” in her graduating class.
Mrs. Mecier grew up attending St. Mary’s Church in Clinton Heights, where her faith was a large part of her life. She was very shy when attending Columbia High School, but started coming out of her shell once she started volunteering at Christ Our Light after high school, a change for which she is very grateful.
“I’m really happy now,” she said. “Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine I would be doing the things I did.”
After graduation, both women worked in the banking field. Mrs. Mecier was a bookkeeper for National Commerce Bank and Trust (Key Bank) and Mrs. Tremblay worked as a teller and later assistant manager at Key Bank for more than 25 years.
In 1952, Mrs. Mecier met her husband at Hoffman’s Skateland, an Albany roller-skating rink, and jokes that they “have been going around ever since.” They raised two boys together, both of whom still live in the Diocese. Mr. Mecier passed away almost 17 years ago.
Mrs. Tremblay, for her part, recalls writing letters to her future husband while she was in high school and he was serving in the Army. They had four children and helped raise their four granddaughters and three great-granddaughters. Mrs. Tremblay recalls spending many summers traveling cross-country in their motor home.
In 1983, Mrs. Tremblay was honored as Key Bank’s “teller of the year” and won a trip to Hawaii, which she took with her daughter, one year after her husband passed away.
Both women plan to continue helping their parishes for years to come.
“It’s something that I enjoy doing,” said Mrs. Mecier. “I am blessed.”