St. Stephen's Parish bids farewell to Father Robert Bubel

| 30 Sep 2011 | 09:49

Assignment at St. Patrick’s Cathedral begins July 1 for young priest WARWICK - Father Robert Bubel, who, for the past three years, has served as the Parochial Vicar of the Church of St. Stephen, the First Martyr, recently left for his new assignment. Beginning July 1, he will serve as Parochial Vicar at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. Father Casmir Mung’aho has been assigned to be the new Parochial Vicar at St. Stephen’s. The title refers to a priest assigned to a parish in addition to, and in collaboration with, the pastor of the parish. On Sunday, June 26, Bubel returned to St. Stephen’s to celebrate Mass. It was an opportunity for members of his first parish as a newly ordained priest to bid farewell. And following the mass, everyone was invited to a barbecue organized by members of the Knights of Columbus. Stepping stone Frequently reassigning new priests has become commonplace in the Archdiocese of New York and elsewhere. The additional experience of serving in a different parish is often seen as a stepping stone to becoming a pastor. Father Thomas Byrnes, for example, whose first parish was St. Stephen’s, is now pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Monroe. Father Patrick Buckley, another newly ordained priest who served at St. Stephen’s just before Bubel arrived, is now the administrator of the Church of St. Christopher in Red Hook. The new assignment to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, however, was a surprise for Bubel. The cathedral, which was dedicated in 1879, is the seat of the Archbishop of New York. It is the largest decorated gothic-style Catholic Cathedral in the United States and seats about 2,200 people. More than five million visitors enter its doors facing Fifth Avenue each year. 'Something was missing’ During his homily, Bubel stressed his joy at being a priest: “People tell me I smile a lot when I’m on the altar,” he said. He added that before answering his call to the priesthood, and having earned a degree in electrical engineering, he was employed with IBM in Vermont. He was not a particularly religious person at that time and enjoyed his job, an active social life and participating in sports including swimming, biking and snowboarding. “But something was missing,” he recalled. “One day I was sitting quietly in a church asking the Lord for guidance when an older woman, a complete stranger, touched me on the shoulder and said, 'I love you.’ I believe this was a message from God, a sign of His love and a call to the priesthood.” He thanked the members of the parish and in particular the pastor, The Rev. Michael McLoughlin, as well those who attended his daily Mass for helping him mature as a priest. The parishioners at St. Stephen’s are well aware that Bubel’s favorite off-duty activity in this area was snowboarding. And so it was no surprise when asked if he would return to visit St. Stephen’s, that he replied: “Yes, of course, as soon as the snow starts falling.”