Righteousness in mind at Bishop Emeritus Howard Hubbard’s funeral

The Daily Gazette [Schenectady NY]

August 25, 2023

By Ameara Ditsche

LOUDONVILLE — A collection of memories on poster boards greeted those arriving for Bishop Emeritus Howard J. Hubbard’s funeral on Friday, held at St. Pius X Church in Loudonville.

Sepia-tinged 1940s family photographs featuring the retired bishop alongside his sister Joan and recent snaps with friends dotted the boards outside of the chapel. Some cried, some took in all 84 years represented by the photos.

The pews at the church in Loudonville were packed with community members there to pay their respects.

“It was just wonderful,” said Randall Patterson, Senior Priest at St. Clement’s Roman Catholic Church in Saratoga Springs. “He was a simple man, he’d probably be a bit embarrassed by it.” he joked.

Patterson worked with Hubbard as chancellor of the diocese, calling their friendship a “tremendous gift.”

“He was for me, the most righteous man you ever wanted to meet,” Patterson said.

Righteousness was a repeated theme of the morning. After an opening hymn, a passage from the Old Testament was read.

“The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,” reads Wisdom 3: 1-11.

Current Bishop Edward Scharfenberger delivered the homily. He began by explaining that the Catholic funeral Mass was designed to mirror the same service that occurs each Sunday. Both ceremonies celebrate love and God’s devotion, he said.

Scharfenberger gestured to his mitre (his headdress), pointing out the depiction of Mary.

“She loves her son and she loves those to whom her heavenly father vows,” he said.

“Can I call him Howard?” Bishop Edward Scharfenberger interjected during his homily.

The crowd let out a small laugh before he continued.

Following the Mass, as Hubbard’s cloth-covered casket was carried out, attendees clapped in his honor.

But Hubbard’s last days were clouded.

In 2021, Hubbard admitted to covering up sexual abuse in the church. Clergy members accused of child sexual abuse were sent to treatment programs and reinstated within different ministries, rather than being turned in to law enforcement, the retired bishop acknowledged.

Hubbard himself is named in seven open lawsuits under the Child Victims Act, which allows victims of sexual abuse to sue their alleged abusers outside the statute of limitations. He denied all accusations.

Hubbard, who received a graduate degree in social services from the Catholic University of America, was lauded for his commitment to community service.

He founded Hope House and Providence House, a drug rehabilitation center and crisis intervention center, respectively. He was regarded as liberal for a bishop, and encouraged better relations between Catholics and Jewish people, as well as urging white Catholics to apologize to their Black brethren. He remained firm in his anti-abortion stance, suing the state over the opening of regional clinics.

Dubbed the “street priest,” Hubbard was a mainstay in Albany’s South End. The Albany diocese spans 14 counties, all of which Hubbard frequently visited. A Troy native, he could often be spotted at Siena basketball games and joined his family for dinner each week. Weeks before his death, it was revealed that Hubbard had sought to leave the priesthood and got married, which the church did not recognize. Still, Hubbard expressed his love and commitment to the Catholic church and said he would remain involved.