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‘God has something else for me to do’

September 2, 2020

Editor’s note: The following is an installment of an ongoing series featuring how Catholics of the Diocese of Ogdensburg are living out their faith. To suggest an individual to be featured in this series, please call the North Country Catholic at 315-393-2920 or email dfargo@rcdony.org.

By Darcy Fargo

WATERTOWN – Though she’s tried to serve God and her parish throughout her life, Helen Guardino-Trimm says she’s not done yet.

“I just turned 90,” said Guardino-Trimm. “I still feel that God has something else for me to do. I know what it is, but I know it’s coming.”

Guardino-Trimm said she was raised in the Catholic faith, receiving all her sacraments at the church she still calls her faith home, St. Anthony’s Church in Watertown.

“I’ve been so many gifts in my life,” she said. “St. Anthony’s has been a gift. I received all my sacraments there, and I’ve gone to the St. Anthony’s Novena every Tuesday for years.”

After graduating from high school, Guardino-Trimm started her professional life working for the City of Watertown Recreation Department, a position she held until the birth of her first son, Gus.

“I had him on a Friday morning,” she said. “He was two weeks early. They were planning a shower for me in city hall the day I had him.”

She then stayed home raising her sons, Gus and Tony, until Tony reached fifth grade. She then started working for the Watertown School District, first in the cafeteria at Boon Street School and later as a teacher’s assistant. She later moved on to Harold T. Wiley School, where she worked in an experimental education setting.

“There were no classrooms,” she said. “First, second, third and fourth grade were in one large area. I helped students with math, reading and how to get along with one another.”

After five years in that position, Guardino-Trimm said she needed a break from the educational setting. Soon, though, God put another opportunity in her path.

“We had a store down in Wescott Beach,” Guardino-Trimm said. “I was there when a woman came up to me and said, ‘Helen Guardino? How would you like a job at the (YWCA)?’ It was definitely God’s plan.”

Guardino-Trimm said she lead a teen program at the YWCA for three years, when she was called into a meeting with the organization’s leadership.

“I was asked to talk to the grade seven and eight students about the (birth control) pill,” she said. “I said, ‘no. That’s between mothers and daughters.’ They asked, ‘You’re a good Catholic girl, aren’t you?’ I said, ‘Yes, I am.’ I was released from my duties and told I wasn’t to talk to these teenage girls. I was depressed for a few days.”
But God soon put another opportunity in her path.

“I went to Msgr. Milia, and I told him, ‘if you ever need help, I’m available,’” Guardino-Trimm said. “Two weeks later, he told me he needed help with the bulletin. I did the bulletin.”

Her career at St. Anthony’s Church was born.

Guardino-Trimm’s duties continued to expand, and she continued to become more and more involved in the life of the parish. She became a lay minister and an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. She later started volunteering as a teacher with the Faith Formation program, working in First Communion and Confirmation preparation. She’s served with the Altar-Rosary Society, including serving as the organization’s president a few times. She has assisted with the parish Bingo program and cleaning the church, and also taught for 32 years with the Special Religious Education Program.

“The children and adults in that program are just beautiful,” she said. “They have so much joy.”

Guardino-Trimm worked for St. Anthony’s parish for 40 years, working for both Msgr. Milia and Father Donald Robinson.

“I’ve been able to work for two wonderful priests, and I’ve been able to get to know a lot of others,” she said.

“St. Anthony’s is warm and receiving. I love it. A lot of us grew up together. And the new people are sweet and wonderful. We’ve had differences (within the parish community), but those have never become the focus. Everyone is willing to work together. As we’ve combined with St. Patrick’s and Holy Family, that community keeps growing.”

While Guardino-Trimm retired from her job with the parish several years ago, she continues to be involved in the Mount Carmel committee, aiding with preparation for the community’s annual Mount Carmel Festival and its related publication.

“Every time I needed to step away from one of my activities, I would pray to the Holy Spirit, and you know what? God would put the right face right in front of me,” she said. “God really has been my guide.”

To cultivate her faith, Guardino-Trimm said she reads the “Living Faith” devotional regularly. She also prays Padre Pio’s “Stay with Me” after receiving Holy Communion; prays the Prayer to St. Gertrude for the souls in purgatory; prays to a grandparent’s prayer for her four grandchildren; prays for the intercession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel; prays a prayer inspired by speaker and author Matthew Kelly and prays the Rosary.

While she devotes much of her time to the Lord, Guardino-Trimm says the Lord has also given much to her.

“I’ve lost two husbands,” she said. “God was my strength. My faith gives me purpose in life. I know that in my suffering, I suffer with Jesus. In my happiness, I laugh with Jesus. I’m not doing this by myself. I always have this wonderful, wonderful person and God looking over me. That means a lot to me.

“I always pray, ‘Lord, help me to realize that nothing can happen today that you and I can’t handle.”

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