Monsignor Robert Gribbin has been living his purpose for the past 65 years.
"I have always wanted to serve God's people," he said. "All I wanted to be was a parish priest and (I) have been happy being a parish priest."
The communities and families he has served will come together Sunday to celebrate the 65th ordination anniversary of Gribbin, who served 34 years at St. Joseph Parish in Hanover before retiring in 1998.
Now retired: At 89, Gribbin is the second-oldest priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg. He is living in retirement and assisting priests at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish at 6084 W. Canal Road in Abbottstown, Adams County.
A celebration for Gribbin, including a 10:15 a.m. Mass and reception, will be held Sunday at the church, said Sister Rosanne Karmazin, the church's pastoral associate. The event is open to the public.
She said Gribbin's actual anniversary was May 31, and a private celebration was held for him at the church on June 3. In attendance were more than 200 relatives, close friends and priest friends, Karmazin said.
"I believe he's been a good example to the parishioners and school children with whom he has been involved," said Gribbin's brother, attorney Leo Gribbin, 81, of York Township. "He told me he always wanted to be parish priest. That was his goal in life."
Service: For Sunday's celebration, Karmazin said she expects attendees from all the places Gribbin served. After his 1947 ordination, Gribbin -- born in Shamokin, Northumberland County -- served a year at St. Patrick's in Carlisle, Cumberland County, and then served as an associate at St. Joseph in Hanover.
Beginning in 1950, he served the next 14 years as principal at Lebanon and Lancaster
Catholic high schools and at Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg.
He returned in 1964 to St. Joseph Parish at 5055 Grandview Road in Hanover, where he led the congregation in construction projects for its new church and school buildings.
Karmazin, a former St. Joseph member, said she has known Gribbin for 25 years.
"He's a legend in the Hanover area," she said. "He's a popular man. So many people just know and love the man. He's honestly a legend."
Faith and happiness: However, Gribbin calls himself a "simple parish priest" and said he has found extreme happiness in the ministry.
Gribbin said he hopes that through his service people have learned the importance of being prayerful, remaining faithful to commitments even during hard times and being committed to God and God's teachings.
The monsignor also encouraged younger priests to always care for children, people who are sick and the elderly, and to reach out to families who lost loved ones.
Gribbin said that priests, too, need to be prayerful to triumph over temptations and overcome disappointments in life.
"Face them as one of Christ's followers," he advised. "Remember, we are told in the Gospel to take up our cross and follow him."
-- Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at email@example.com.
The 65th ordination anniversary for Monsignor Robert Gribbin begins with a 10:15 a.m. Mass on Sunday at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, 6084 W. Canal Road in Abbottstown, Adams County.
A reception will be held afterward. The event is open to the public. For information, call the parish at 717-259-6371.