Posted at: 10/21/2013 1:05 AM
Updated at: 10/21/2013 10:52 AM
By: Steve Flamisch
ALBANY -- Most Rev. Howard Hubbard, the bishop of Albany, celebrated a special mass Sunday marking the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.
Led by a procession of priests, deacons, bishops, and Cardinals Timothy Dolan and Edward Egan, Hubbard entered the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to a loud ovation from his parishioners.
"Today, my mind and heart are filled with gratitude," Hubbard told the audience in a speech that blended humility with humor.
Hubbard, a Lansingburgh native, was ordained as a priest on Dec. 18, 1963 at the Church of St. Ignatius in Rome, according to his biography. He was elevated to bishop on March 27, 1977. At the time, he was the youngest bishop in the country.
"In many respects there are a lot more responsibilities than I ever dreamed," Hubbard told NewsChannel 13 in a 1978 interview.
In his speech Sunday, Hubbard reflected on a half-century of accomplishments -- founding Providence House and Hope House, meeting with popes and presidents.
He also talked about the challenges of closing parishes and watching the child sex abuse scandal unfold in the Catholic Church.
"For all those who have been abused and who have suffered so much, and to their family members, I apologize with every fiber of my being," Hubbard said.
Now the longest-tenured bishop in the country, Hubbard is required to submit his resignation to the Vatican when he turns 75 on October 31. Then, he must wait for a response.
"You're kind of in a state of limbo, if you will," he told NewsChannel 13 after mass. "I could receive a response the next day after I submit my letter, or it could be two weeks or two months or six months."
He added, with a smile, "I'll keep trucking until the new man arrives."
Hubbard said, even after a successor is named, he intends to remain in Albany and continue to celebrate mass on a fill-in basis.