By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Over the past nine years, Ernest Rivard, St. Rose of Lima’s pastoral assistant and director of ministries, has helped families grieve over losses, celebrate joyful occasions, and navigate through challenges. On Jan. 14, he officially retired from his full-time position, but plans to assist as needed through the church’s busy Easter season.
“Retirement is just the movement of life,” said Rivard. “It’s the right time to move on.”
He felt that it was time to focus more on his family as he approaches his 65th birthday in February. Having worked in retail previously and then in ministry, time off on weekends has been very limited and has resulted in his missing some family events over the years.
Stepping down from the position will give Rivard more freedom to travel to Maine to visit his 1½-year-old grandchild and a second grandchild who is on the way.
He is going to treat his first year of retirement as a sabbatical without any commitments. He said he has a lot of reading and studies to catch up on and is looking forward to the time to travel more, play golf and pursue hobbies.
Rivard has accomplished a lot during his time at St. Rose. He is proud of his involvement in the Northborough Interfaith Clergy Association (NICA), a partnership with other area ministers and pastors to assist residents in crisis, such as helping homeless families living at hotels.
“It has been nice to work together and collaborate with them,” he said.
The annual Family Day/5K event in the fall and many of the church’s service projects are examples how the church community lives out their faith as they share their time and abilities.
“It’s great to see what can happen when people work together,” said Rivard. “We are a stronger community when we can help people together.”
St. Rose has a history of having a strong youth connections and it is gratifying for Rivard to see some of the kids he met during his early years, while training them as altar servers, returning after college graduation.
“The pastoral assistant position is one of being present to accompany people through life’s joys, celebrations, struggles, challenges with kids, aging and death,” he said. “It has been a privilege to walk with people with a sense of faith. Without faith, it’s difficult to keep a balance.”
Since announcing his plans a few months ago, it has been bittersweet.
As part of his ministry, Rivard visits ill parishioners and comforts families dealing with illness and death. He has also had the opportunity to be present and help with great celebrations and witness family prayer and happiness, citing the recent Christmas Masses.
“After services on the weekends, I see people when they are leaving and we talk about their lives, children, successes and concerns,” said Rivard. “I will miss the personal connections with people.”