UTICA — The Rev. Paul J. Drobin, sitting in his office Tuesday at the Newman Center at Utica College, said that it’s time.
“I’m grateful — I’ve had a wonderful, wonderful ministry,” he said. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t feel blessed and consequently grateful.”
Saturday and Sunday, June 23 and 24, will be Drobin’s last Masses at the center. A 5 p.m. Mass will be celebrated Saturday and a 10:30 a.m. Mass will be celebrated Sunday. Both Masses will take place at the Newman Center on the Utica College Campus, 1600 Burrstone Road.
After a career lasting over 50 years, Drobin, 77, has in a way, come full circle. The same kids he used to teach when he was a high school teacher now have grandchildren, some of whom he’s baptized, he said.
But the native Utican also grew up in the neighborhood where Utica College started in 1946. He was 6 then — World War II had just ended and enthusiasm was high after the G.I. Bill.
It was an environment that fostered a love of learning but also a strong work ethic.
“I took great inspiration from many people either starting or returning to college,” Drobin said, “and sometimes, simultaneously, holding a job or two and raising a family. So as a kid that was a light bulb experience.”
Drobin also appreciates language. He’s polyglot, having spent years learning Latin and Greek (along with a year of Hebrew, he said).
So what’s the plan for his final homily?
A play on a Shakespearean line — the classic “what’s in a name,” which starts Juliet’s soliloquy in the second scene of Act II in "Romeo and Juliet."
“I don’t want to give it away because I want to speak it (for my final Masses),” Drobin said, “but I want to hopefully use that as a springboard for identity and destiny.”
After teaching high school classes, Drobin served as a pastor in area churches and chaplain at Hamilton College. He also served as a councilor and the chaplain at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, before his post with Utica College.
That eclectic peregrination is unlike the experience of most pastors, but all the assignments were worth it, he said.
“I’m grateful for all those cosmic intersections in my life,” he added, “and I bring all of those to my retirement.”
Contact reporter Joseph Labernik at 315-792-4995 or follow him on Twitter (@OD_Labernik).