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Archives Sixty years of priesthood and still going strong

Oct. 31, 2018

Patricia Marie
Contributing Writer

Keeseville – There are some people who love, even thrive, on sharing their gifts and talents. No matter how Manfredmany candles are on their birthday cake, they want to serve others by continuing to share their knowledge.
On a cold, blustery mid-October afternoon, Father Gilbert B. Menard walked into a classroom of 13 Confirmation students to give two hours of his time to teach the teens about the basics of the Mass.

Today however, is a little more special than previous classes, because Father Menard will turn 90 years old in a few days.

Father Gibby, as he is affectionately known, has been a priest for 63 years. Although well beyond retirement, he is beloved in Keeseville. When the community’s current pastor, Father Kris C. Lauzon is away, Father Menard celebrates Mass in both churches of the parish, St. John the Baptist Church and Church of the Immaculate Conception, and offers the scheduled daily Masses and/or weekend Masses.

Father Menard taught at Mater Dei College and at Wadhams Hall. Between the two colleges, he taught three languages: Greek, Latin and French. When the colleges closed, he became a parish priest, occasionally teaching a course in the public schools in the same communities in which he served. Additionally, he worked with individuals who wanted to become Catholic.

Five years ago, the Confirmation program director, who knew Father Menard quite well, wanted to tap into his immense experiences as a priest and teacher, so he invited Father Menard to speak at one of the confirmation classes.

The students enjoyed Father’s stories and his method of teaching. Consequently, it’s become a yearly tradition to have Father Menard teach one class each year.

In his teachings, Father always includes his love for Our Blessed Mother and her Rosary, and he strongly encourages everyone, especially the students to do the same.

As Father Menard explained the parts of the Mass during class, he told the young students that knowing their faith was extremely important, because they could evangelize others just by their words and actions, which is driven by knowledge of their faith.

One of Father Menard’s teaching gifts involve his keen memory, as he often relates stories to the students about many of his own experiences as a priest to help illustrate a specific point.

One such example was that as a young priest, he was called to a local hospital to administer the Anointing of the Sick to a parishioner, who was in danger of dying.

In those days, there were usually two beds to a hospital room, divided by only a thin curtain. Almost any conversation could be easily overheard by the patient’s hospital roommate.

After listening to the words of the Sacramental Rite for the sick man, the parishioner’s roommate told Father Menard that, although he wasn’t Catholic, he was touched by the words he heard and wanted the same thing for himself.

As Father Menard explained the sacrament’s purpose, the man was impressed and wanted to learn more. Since the two men shared the same hospital room, the parishioner was able to answer questions, because he knew his faith. Eventually his roommate became Catholic.

A second story Father told the students was as a parish priest, he would use his homilies as an opportunity to teach the children about the Sunday Gospel. He would often direct his comments to teach the little ones.
In doing so, the parents learned more about their faith as well.

There is a scriptural passage written on the arch above the altar in the Immaculate Conception Church: “…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…” (Mt. 6:21)

At 90 years of age, Father Menard’s treasure and heart is his love of teaching.


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