LOUDONVILLE — Bishop Emeritus Howard J. Hubbard will receive a private burial, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany wrote on Wednesday.
The retired bishop, who unsuccessfully requested to leave the priesthood last year, died of a stroke this past Saturday. He was 84 years old.
Troy-born, Hubbard spent decades promoting social justice while at the helm of 125 parishes that served about 360,000 Roman Catholics residing in the 14-county diocese.
Ultimately, a firestorm of sexual abuse allegations against clergy officials, including him — the latter of which he repeatedly denied — resulted in public backlash against the spiritual leader. In his later years, he placed himself on voluntary leave from the priesthood and exited the public eye.
Bereavement services will be held at St. Pius X Church in Loudonville on Friday. At Hubbard’s request, he will be buried next to parents Elizabeth Burke and Howard Hubbard.
Here’s what else to know:
FAMILY CHOSE THE VENUE
While it’s not clear why St. Pius X was selected by relatives, the Loudonville location can fit 840 mourners and about 100 more in an overflow room.
The diocese isn’t certain how many people will show up to the 23 Crumitie Road memorial.
“A lot of people could show up,” said diocese spokesperson Kathryn Barrans. “We have no way of gauging that, necessarily, and I’m not sure specifically what kind of logistics you’re looking for.”
Public visitation services will start at 9 a.m. and end before the funeral at 11:30 a.m. Current Bishop Edward Scharfenberger will preside over the funeral Mass.
DIOCESE, COLONIE POLICE IN CONTACT
Barrans confirmed that church officials have notified local authorities over funeral arrangements. She’s not sure if officers will be onsite.
“I don’t know what they are planning to do with everything, but we figured there’s potential to have a big crowd and let them know what’s going on, so we did.”
Colonie police didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
LAST BISHOP FUNERAL
Like Hubbard, the funeral for Bishop Edwin Broderick, who served the diocese from 1969 to 1976, was held at St. Pius X. This was a change up from the arrangements of his predecessor, Bishop William Scully, whose funeral was held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany.
Broderick, upon vacating the post, went to lead Catholic Relief Services in New York City, where he spent much of his remaining life.
During the 1960s, Hubbard became known as a “street priest.” He founded a crisis intervention center and a drug rehabilitation center in Albany, and tried to mend relationships between white Catholics and minority communities. The young man was comparatively progressive at the time sans his anti-abortion advocacy.
He was 38 years old at the time Pope Paul VI appointed him to lead his home diocese.
To date, the former bishop holds the longest tenure in the diocese’s 176-year history. He spent 37 years in the role before retiring at the mandatory age of 75.
WIDOW LEFT BEHIND
Less than a month has passed since Hubbard married Jennifer Barrie in a civil ceremony about a year after the Vatican denied his request to rescind his lifelong vow to the priesthood.
“I have fallen in love with a wonderful woman who has helped and cared for me and who believes in me,” Hubbard said in a statement in July. “She has been a loving and supportive companion on this journey.”
The marriage is not been recognized by the Roman Catholic Church because priests take a vow not to wed at their ordination, and Hubbard never formally exited the priesthood. When asked if Barrie will be regarded as part of Hubbard’s family during services, Barrans responded, “Bishop Scharfenberger plans to acknowledge family and friends — everyone in attendance.”
SEVEN PENDING CASES
The Child Victims Act of 2019 permitted abuse claims once banned by the statute of limitations for adults up to 55 years of age. It was extended in 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first individual lawsuit against Hubbard under the new law was filed in 2019.
“When someone’s in charge of people’s souls, when they have access to be close to people, they have a big responsibility to those people, the trust of those people and not tarnish it,” said an alleged victim.
As policy, the Daily Gazette Family of Newspapers doesn’t identify alleged victims of sexual assault.
Hubbard admitted that he covered up numerous allegations of sexual misconduct in the church, often shuffling offenders from one ministry to another after they received treatment without alerting authorities. He expressed regret over his supervision of such incidents.
“Even in death, Hubbard’s knowledge of institutional abuse and concealment are still seen,” said Mike McDonnell, interim director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected]. Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or X @TylerAMcNeil.