The Man on the Park Bench

By Bill McGinty
June 23, 2011

There is a man sitting on the park bench, I think he has been there all night. He smells awfully like the storm drain and his face is masked in pain. The children say that he is crazy, they want to stop to call him names. They don’t know that he was famous once or the source of his fame.

There is not a waterfall, a single lake or stream that does not have a picture painted by his hand. He has recorded Pike County with all its color and beauty and dressed in every season and for all time. You cannot name a building with any historic significance that has not been detailed in all its complexity in the town of Milford by so fine an artist. His paintings number in the thousands, illustrations in so many publications, but there were no shows or exhibitions. This was a journeyman artist, grinding out a living with his raw talent. Famed at West Point where his oil paintings were purchased by Colonels and Generals and traveled to the furthest corners of the land.

He is the last of the Hudson Valley School of artists, whose fine detail recorded the beauty of our finest places from the Hudson to Lake George, Pike County to Yellowstone Park.  His eyes are failing now, his health declined, he can’t remember anymore and his balance is unsure.

There should be a place for him; some shelter from the storm, but he lost his health and then his apartment, so now the bench is his home. Welfare say they can do nothing. He falls between the cracks! He is too young for Medicare, too old in wear and tear. Last week he went to the hospital, right to the ER. They told him he had cracked ribs and deep congestion; then sent him out through the door into the night. He tried to walk home to Milford, but fell upon the road. Two cops picked him up and dropped him at the park. There he spent the night. He’s the man on the park bench, without any place to go. He’s the Jesus of Milford, I just thought you’d like to know.

They said last week we give Pakistan 20 billion a year. It seems like a lot. Makes you wonder why we can’t look after our own poor, so they don’t  live their days on a park bench. I asked a lot of questions this week, about what is available in Pike County for the homeless. Apparently, the answer is ‘nothing’. There is no homeless shelter, no place for them to go. There is no half-way house or any place that will care for the poor, the lost and the homeless. That makes me wonder about the endless stream of politicians, who year after year promise so much, but perhaps not for the poor and not for an old artist living on a park bench.

There are empty houses all over Pike County owned by the banks. They lie empty, many falling into decay. No one lives there. No one wants them. I hope there are a thousand voices from the good people of Pike County reading this article who this week will shout: “Give us a house and we will shelter our poor! Give us a roof and we will do the rest!”

There’s a man on the park bench. His face is lined in pain. I think that he’s my brother!

I feel we are all to blame.

[Bill McGinty is the pastor of the Good Shepherd, Church in Milford. You can contact him on 570-296-8123. or 110 W.Catharine Street, Milford. 18337.]

Diocesan Life for June 2011

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Elizabeth Geitz joins Milford church team

[From Good Shepherd & St. John's Milford PA]

Renowned author and  speaker Elizabeth Geitz officially joined the clergy team as priest associate of the Good Shepherd and St John’s Episcopal Church, Milford on March 23, 2011. An Episcopal priest, retired of the Diocese of New Jersey, the Reverend Canon Elizabeth Geitz now lives in Shohola. Vice-Chair of the board of trustees of the General Theological Seminary in New York, and a spirituality faculty member of the Credo Institute, Canon Geitz is a recognized expert in women’s spirituality.

A native of Clarksville, Tennessee, she brings a wealth of experience to the pastoral work of the church that stands on the corner of Fifth and West Catharine. With a firm grasp of social and community issues, Elizabeth has been a unifying factor for people of many cultures and faiths in the area. Like so many authors and writers in Pike County, she is inspired by the beauty, tranquility and ageless grace of the Delaware Valley, its wildlife and ecology.

The congregation of the church and so many sections of the greater community are excited to welcome Elizabeth to Milford and the church of Good Shepherd and St John’s. “We are all so please to welcome Elizabeth," said rector Father Bill McGinty. "She is interested in so much more than denominational church matters and brings a whole new dimension to the outreach of the greater Milford Community. For too long, we in Pike County have been aware of what divides; Elizabeth is all about what unites and binds people together, with a healthy respect for their diversity and richness of their stories. We are very blessed to have her on board.”

Locally, Elizabeth serves on the Board of The Biondo Foundation and is a member of the Chefs Do Dinner Event Committee of the Center for Developmental Disabilities. She is also co-chair of the U.S. advisory board for the Good Shepherd Home for Orphans, Cameroon, West Africa.

Sermon by Father Bill McGinty at Clergy Retreat

Vincent de Paul
27 September 2010
Clergy Retreat
Wernersville, PA.
Rev. Bill McGinty

Today is the feast of Vincent de Paul. It speaks volumes about the life of Vincent that on this 27th day of September he is honored by catholic and Protestant alike. He lived in a 17th century world of class division; religious wars and the chasm between rich and poor; Vincent bridged them all so well, that his name is forever associated with ministering to the poor and with charitable causes.

Vincent was the personification of the Gospel mandate we find in the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes. His whole life was an energized proclamation of Jesus Christ in word and action. In all his dealings with the poor Vincent did not seek to convert or bring them to Christ by preaching or teaching alone. Rather he brought them to Christ by becoming Christ for them. He bandaged up their sores, comforted them in dying, and nursed them through cholera and disease of every kind. The poor were touched by the presence of God that surrounded him; the tender mercies he administered to them; and the humility he exhibited at the gift of life and grace he found in them.

There is something here we all recognize. We have seen it in Gandhi, Mother Teresa; Albert Scheitzer and Mandela. It is a humanity and compassion for the human condition in the worse of times and in its struggle to survive. Vincent de Paul had that compassion; it was born of the Gospel within him and his own humble beginning.

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