The news in a press release the other day from attorney Dale Robbins recently published in The Post-Journal was a refreshing reminder of what we are all about as a community.
Robbins' news release was about a dinner to honor 18 local attorneys who had worked at least 40 years in the profession. The dinner was a joint commemoration by 85 attorneys - guests as well as members of the Jamestown and the Northern Chautauqua County Bar associations.
What caught our eye especially was the benediction by attorney Robert Liebers.
Liebers said that after being asked to do the benediction, his first thought was to read up on St. Thomas More, the patron saint of lawyers. That's when he found that lawyers have had a patron saint as far back as 1347.
"His name was St. Ives and I think that the life of St. Ives is more instructive to us tonight than that of St. Thomas More," Liebers wrote for the benediction. "St. Ives did not do battle with a king. St. Ives was not beheaded. St. Ives was a humble lawyer and judge who served his community in the Brittany area of France for 35 years."
He quoted Professor John Henry Wigmore writing that St. Ives was made a calendar-saint not because he was a martyr at the stake, nor merely because he was a faithful servant of the Church, but because for 35 years he lived a life of service and sacrifice in the cause of Justice.
"In short, he was declared a saint in Heaven because he had lived a saintly life on earth," Wigmore wrote. "And he had pursued this career as an ordinary man, amidst the very same every-day conditions that surround any lawyer and any judge at any time in any country. Well may he be enshrined in our aspirations as an example of the ideal of Justice attainable in real life by a member of our profession."
Liebers said the lawyers who were being honored for their service to our community for 40 years have been doing just what St. Ives did: "... humbling serving the community as lawyers and judges."
You can't help but agree with him, on the whole, when you read the list of honorees: retired Supreme Court Justice Joseph Gerace, retired Chautauqua County Surrogate Willard W. Cass, and attorneys Richard Whipple, Arthur N. Bailey, Anthony Spann, Charles Hannum, Lucian Lodestro, Dalton Burgett, Richard Slater, Douglas Spoto, John Sellstrom, Charles Loveland, Ronald Malin, William Foley, Samuel Price, Sr., Warren Erickson, Samuel Drayo and John Plumb.
This list includes men who have not only practiced their profession for their clients faithfully, but who volunteer in service to their communities and churches and non-profits and youth organizations and environmental groups and on and on.
We are a better place for having had them spend their working careers right here in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.
"The work that our noble profession does is not always appreciated but it is truly God's work as we could not have our civilization without it," Liebers said.
"It is right and fitting that we recognize their service, their dedication and the wisdom that they have imparted to our community," he said. "We all pray that we might go forth and serve our community with the dignity and skill of those we honor tonight."