YOU ARE HERE: HeraldMail HomeCollectionsGod

Catholic church secretary retiring at 84

June 13, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - The decision to retire wasn't an easy one for Mary Graff. After all, she is only 84 years old.

Graff said while she still loves her work as secretary at St. Mary's Catholic Church, she is looking forward to having more time to herself. But she doesn't plan to just sit in a chair and do nothing.

"I will probably do some volunteering again," Graff said, noting she gave up much of that for her work in the church office.


Born near Pittsburgh, Graff moved to New York City with her family when she was in third grade.

In 1949, she and her husband moved to Hagerstown. They had four sons, all of whom attended St. Mary's School and St. Maria Goretti High School.

James, the eldest, is a businessman; Curtis is a teacher in Washington County; and Kevin works for the State of Maryland. Dennis, Graff's third son, is deceased. Her husband, Vincent Graff, died in 1977. He was a civil engineer.

"In 1954, I had the gym program at St. Mary's School when the gym teacher retired," Graff said. "I loved the work and I liked being close to my boys."

Curtis Graff said the job was a natural for his mother, a standout athlete in her youth.

"Basketball was her main sport," he said.

After three years doing that, Graff became the church secretary at the urging of Monsignor Daniel McGrath.

"I still love working with kids," she said.

As a volunteer, she often found herself drawn to organizations geared toward young people, like Boy Scouts, Little League and teaching swimming for the American Red Cross. One exception was her visits to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Martinsburg, W.Va.

As her tenure as an employee at St. Mary's comes to an end, she is quick to add that the church will continue to be a big part of her life.

Still in the same house she moved into with her family in 1949, Graff said she is looking forward to living alone and doing what she wants. Some of that will include watching sports on television and attending as many Notre Dame games as she can with her son, Curtis.

And she would like to spend more time with her four grandchildren, she said.

Some time ago, Graff came across a saying she said expressed her view of her life - God put me on this earth to accomplish a number of things. And right now, I'm so far behind, I will never die.

"I think I have accomplished some things God had wanted me to do, but there is more to do," she said.

The Herald-Mail Articles