Jul 20, 2014

Parishioners say thank you to Bishop McDonnell with pancakes



Story and photos by Terence Hegarty

SPRINGFIELD – They said thank you with pancakes. Parishioners of St. Michael’s Cathedral Parish here celebrated Mass with Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell and held a pancake breakfast afterward to show gratitude to him for serving as not only their bishop, but as their pastor over the last 10 years.

Bishop McDonnell, who will officially be retired following the Aug. 12 installation of Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, celebrated the 10 a.m. Mass here July 20.

Following the liturgy, he greeted well-wishers in the Bishop Marshall Center as participants also welcomed plates full of pancakes. Sausage accompanied the pancakes, as did maple syrup and butter as dozens crowded into the Huller Hall.

Msgr. Christopher Connelly, vicar general of the Diocese of Springfield and rector of the cathedral parish, spoke at the conclusion of the liturgy. “His support of our parish has been a special blessing for us all,” he said.

“Please join me in expressing heartfelt thanks to our good friend and good bishop,” Msgr. Connelly said as the more than 150 attendees gave Bishop McDonnell a standing ovation.

“It’s been fun,” the bishop told the congregation. “Ten years went by very quickly and I’m waiting to see what the next 10 will bring.” Bishop McDonnell went on to say that he will remain in the Diocese of Springfield in retirement, but will reside at St. Joseph Parish in Pittsfield.

As she was flipping pancakes on an electric skillet in the kitchen of the Marshall Center, Diane Driscoll, a lifelong parishioner of St. Michael’s, told iobserve that the secret behind a perfect pancake is “a lot of love.”

Following the 10 a.m. Mass, Driscoll, a Chicopee resident, said that she and a few other volunteers had made several hundred pancakes already and that they still had one more morning Mass to go.

Speaking of Bishop McDonnell, Driscoll said the gathering was “a thank you gesture for all of his hard work and for all of the love that he’s given us over these years as pastor and bishop.”

Bishop McDonnell himself was grateful for the celebration. “I appreciate it very, very much,” he told iobserve. “The bishop is always the pastor of the cathedral, but doesn’t get to function there that often because of (going) around to different parts of the diocese. But this is home and this has been home for the past ten years.

“It’s a great parish, great people,” he said.

Krystal Gilsinger, a St. Michael’s parishioner and resident of Springfield, told iobserve that she has loved having Bishop McDonnell at the parish.

“When I saw him celebrating Mass, I actually started to cry,” she said. “He is a wonderful man and I just hope the best for him in his future.”

“Bishop McDonnell came at one of the most difficult times in our memory of the church,” said Judy Matt, a St. Michael’s Cathedral parishioner and a Springfield resident. “Day to day he had challenges to overcome. We had a man of steel in him and it was a good thing that we did,” she said.

“He’s a sweet, caring man and just a gentleman in the truest sense of the word.”

A video version of this story will air on an upcoming edition of “Real to Reel,” the Diocese of Springfield’s television newsmagazine that airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.