SCHENECTADY — Richard Carlino paid attention inside St. Augustine’s Church in Troy during the late 1950s.
“My earliest memory is going to church with my dad on Saturday mornings, we went Sunday, too,” Carlino said.
The weekend sessions of peace, reflection, solemn ceremonies and fellowship all made impressions on young Richard. He decided he was going to spend more time in church.
“Since I was 5 years old, I wanted to be a priest,” Carlino said last week, seated in a pew inside St. John the Evangelist Church on Union Street.
Rev. Richard Carlino has spent more time in church. The pastor of St. John’s and nearby St. Anthony’s Church on Seward Place will celebrate the 40th anniversary of his ordination today (Sunday, June 16) during a 5 p.m. service at St. John’s.
Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, who leads the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, and Bishop Emeritus Howard J. Hubbard — who ordained Carlino on June 16, 1979 in Albany — will attend. About 60 priests and deacons also will be part of the service; 500 people are expected at a dinner party following the service inside the parish center.
Carlino, 67, prepared for his vocation by attending high school seminary at St. Francis of Lowell, Massachusetts. His next stop was Siena College, where he earned a degree in psychology and graduated in 1974. By 1975, he had earned his master’s in psychology from Assumption College in Worcester, Mass.
In 1979, Carlino had graduated from Catholic University in Washingon, D.C., with a master’s degree in theology. After ordination, it was time to go to work.
Carlino began his priesthood at the site of his ceremony, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. He stayed until 1983, and then began work as chaplain at Albany Medical Center — a post he held until 1986.
From there, Carlino traveled to Clifton Park and became associate pastor at St. Edward the Confessor. He remained at St. Edward’s until 1989, when he became pastor at St. Anthony’s in Schenectady.
Carlino stayed in Schenectady until 1996, when superiors transferred him to Our Lady of the Assumption in Rotterdam (now Our Lady Queen of Peace). He was at Assumption until 2001, when he began a short period of ministry work.
Carlino returned to Schenectady — with extra responsibilities — in 2002. He was back at St. John the Evangelist, but also served the parishes of St. Mary’s on Eastern Avenue and Holy Cross on North College Street in the city’s Stockade section. The diocese eventually decided to close St. Mary’s and Holy Cross.
In 2008, Carlino added St. Anthony’s Church to his pastoral duties.
“It’s always a struggle to make ends meet, but we are doing well in both parishes financially,” Carlino said. “You always want to do better, but we’re doing well, there’s no debt in either parish.”
With two churches and two congregations — Carlino said all Catholic priests in Schenectady pastor two churches — it can be hard finding time to get all daily tasks accomplished.
“It’s been a struggle for years,” Carlino said. “I do not consider myself good at time management.”
There are always conversations with congregations. People often have something to say to their priest, or need advice.
“I can’t imagine another life more fulfilling … for the affirmation and gratitude
people express to you,” Carlino said.
He has learned people will always remember times when trouble or sorrow became part of their lives, parts of their lives that involved a priest.
Carlino remembered an encounter with an elderly woman in 2002. She knew him by name, and said he had been the priest who had anointed her mother as she lay dying at St. Peter’s Hospital in 1984.
“This was 2002, so 17 years later she remembered me by name,” Carlino said. “I love to tell seminarians that story. It’s peoples’ difficult moments that they never forget you. It could be 20, 30, 40 years later and often they’ll
remember you by name.”
Carlino loved his days as a chaplain. He thinks the job allowed him to best experience his priesthood.
“There was no administration, no headaches,” Carlino said. “But very tiring. I don’t know if i could do that again. All day long, you’re dealing with people in their life issues, anointing people, absolving people, giving people communion. It’s pastoral, it’s sacrament ministry all day long.”
There have been moments of sadness. On March 7, 2014, fire heavily damaged St. Anthony’s. Carlino said he openly wept that night, as firefighters put out the flames.
Parishioners gathered outside the church that night, some with tears in their eyes.
“I really felt I suffered with those people as we waited for the restoration,” Carlino said. “It was a long, long wait.”
Carlino wants to keep working. That would be fine with the diocese, which Carlino said has asked healthy priests in their 70s to remain at their churches.
“For as long as God can give me,” Carlino said. “If I can’t stay on as pastor, I want to stay on as a priest.”
Frank Carlino, now 94, will go to church with his son on Sunday. Rev. Carlino knows it will be an emotional day, for everyone.
“Every priest there is identifying with you, whether they’ve been there already or they’re looking forward to their anniversaries,” he said. “There’s not a priest in the house who’s not identifying with you and rejoicing with you.”
Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]