Rev. Alfred Bebel dies; friends remember his life in the church

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BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — Rev. Alfred Bebel was a well-known priest in our area, who celebrated 60 years of ordination last summer. Family members said Bebel died on Wednesday morning, after a bad fall landed him in the ICU.

12 News interviewed Bebel in June 2018 about his ordination. At the time, he shared stories about how he became a priest. He said at 13-years-old, he had no idea what his future held.

“When the priest out there in the country parish asked me if I ever thought of being a priest, I said no. He said, ‘What do you think you’ll be when you grow up?’ And I said I think I’ll be a farmer like my father,” Bebel told 12 News last June.

He said he received his calling from God five years later while at a beer party.

“I seemed to be called away from the house and went around the lakes, walking there, in the dark and just being called, like having a feeling that I should be out there. I had a presence of, I guess, God. And all of a sudden, it just came to me to be a priest,” Bebel said.

That epiphany brought him decades in the Catholic church and lifelong friendships. One friend being Rev. Stanley Gerlock.

“We shared a great deal together,” Gerlock said.

Gerlock said he met Bebel in 1961.

“The fact that we’re both from the first ward, we call it polish heaven, that kind of cemented us I think,” Gerlock said.

Gerlock shares many fond memories with Bebel, like marching in Washington for Right to Life in the 1980s. He said Bebel was someone you could rely on.

“He would fill in at the last minute. People would call and they would need him to hear confessions or say Mass and you know, it’d be somewhere different all the time,” Gerlock said, “that’s why as soon as we discovered he died, we said, ‘boy, he’s going to be tough to replace.'”

Bebel retired in 2004 but never truly stopping preaching. He told us he said Mass in polish once a month at the Church of the Holy Trinity. Bebel was also a volunteer chaplain in hospice and an on-call hospital priest.

Bebel’s funeral will be held Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at the Church of the Holy Trinity.

Grace Gagnon

Grace Gagnon

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