In the latest video installment of the Aging with Grace series, Hugh Hines, OFM, speaks passionately about his friar life – and his life in retirement at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, Massachusetts.
“How would I describe retirement? Many years ago, I overheard my mother talking with her friend, who was visiting our house. I heard my mother say she never asks for anything in prayers, she just says ‘thanks.’ And I thought that’s really what I can say if I wanted to give one word about my life as a friar and my life in retirement – [it’s] the word ‘thanks,’” says Hugh in the January 2023 release https://youtu.be/Tpeg-Gu45ik of the monthly video series, A Moment With… Aging with Grace, produced by HNP’s Sick, Aged and Retired Directorate.
The series highlights elder friars in 2-to-5-minute videos sharing their wisdom and personal stories and experiences about Franciscan life, vocation, ministry, and retirement. Matthew Pravetz, OFM, is chair of the SAR Directorate, Joe Juracek, OFM, is the series videographer, and Kevin McGoff, OFM, is the editor.
The SAR Directorate team shot the video from the Shrine on Arch Street. Seated in a Queen Anne wingback chair, Hugh speaks softly and authentically about his friar life, which marks 73 years this year, but a journey, he says, that really began as a student of Siena College in Loudonville, New York.
“Everything hasn’t been great. There’s been ups and downs. But basically, it’s been a good life. I was really convinced that God was dealing with me from the time I was in high school. My homeroom teacher encouraged me to take an exam for a college scholarship. Fortunately, I did, and I went to Siena College – and that was my first experience with the Franciscan friars,” the native of Schenectady, New York, says in the video.
“I was only there a semester-and-a-half when I said, ‘this (Franciscan life), I think, is the life for me.’ And in those days, you transferred to [St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in] Callicoon [New York]. It has been good years, many spent in education [teaching] at Bishop Timon High School (in Buffalo, New York) for a while, and a little over 20 years at Siena College, 13 of them (1976 to 1989) as president, which was exciting and interesting,” Hugh continues in the video.
His sage advice to friars approaching retirement age: “People like myself who are able to do things – I think if you can get to a friary and say Mass, hear confessions, and serve the community in some way – [do it]! I would say to try and accept [retirement] and know that you’re not going to be able to do the things you did when you were 30 [years old].”
He adds, “We take these things in stride. We can look back and see people taking our place, and some of our work continues. Face the future with hope, and God provides.”
He also reminisced about his wide-ranging ministries, saying, “I went to Philly (to the St. Francis Inn soup kitchen) for a year – a wonderful experience working with the poor and with Michael Duffy (OFM). I was asked to go to North Carolina to Greensboro [for] about a year, and then I was transferred to Boston and was here for 10 years. After that, I went to Holy Name Church on 96th Street (in New York City), which was an exciting time, and then to [St. Francis on] 31st Street.”
Then came a health scare for Hugh, as he explains in the video: “I had a stroke on the subway. I didn’t know I had it. When I got off at the subway station in the middle of Queens, there were two cops there and they [asked], ‘Do you want to get off at this station?’ I said I was trying to get back to New York and I got on the wrong subway. They asked to see my ID. I must have been stumbling in my speech. The next thing, I woke up in the hospital. They told me I had a stroke.”
But Hugh has never been slowed by the bumps – or age – along the journey. “As you get older, you try to get closer to the Lord on this earth. You try to get closer to your spiritual life. I can be very thankful for the years I’ve had [as a friar], from the time I entered Siena College to today. It has been a fulfilling life,” Hugh says in his video.