May 29, 2013
By Father William Muench
Today, I drove across the Diocese of Ogdensburg.
The spring gathering of all of our priests – our Presbyteral Assembly – is this week in Alexandria Bay.
We all belong to this diocese but we are spread all over the North Country, so, we don’t see too much of each other. It is important that we take a week each year to renew our friendships and brotherhood as priests of the diocese. It is also a time to share with each other about how we can make the Diocese of Ogdensburg a better place.
Each year, we take time to pray together, to spend some time together, and also to invite someone, a well-known speaker, to share with us something important for our ministry.
This year the speaker is a lay man who is involved in evangelization as part of a parish team. I will let you know about that sometime.
Today, driving across the diocese, I am reminded at just how spectacularly beautiful our diocese is.
I started my journey to the Assembly in the mountains. For the first time in my priesthood, I am living in the Adirondacks. I have traveled through these mountains often, visiting friends, but have never lived here. They are truly glorious. It is rather special to wake up in the morning and out for a walk, looking up at Whiteface Mountain. This is so inspiring.
So, I head over our country roads, through many small towns. These are familiar places; I know each pastor and right where each Church is.
Then as I get close to the meeting place, I spot the St. Lawrence River, that mighty river that is the boundary of our diocese.
I can see the ships – I can see Canada across the water. It is a great sight.
My room in Alex Bay looks out at the Thousand Islands. How did they ever get the building materials out to those islands to build these great homes?
I am here to see my family – my brothers in the priesthood – so I need to get out and see who is here, to see how they are doing, to discover what is new in the life of my diocese.
I mention this to you because I want you to realize something important about our diocese. We have a beautiful place to live – our mountains, lakes, rivers. At the same time, we, Catholics, are blessed with a wonderful diocese.
Today, this is characterized for me by all of our priests, united together with our Bishop.
Our many pastors spread throughout the parishes of this North Country are all striving to bring the message and love of Jesus to the people of this North Country.
I notice quickly that as I speak with these priests of my diocese – the conversation often goes to the people – the families. I have been assigned to various parishes in the diocese and I enjoy hearing about parishioners who were part of my life while I was pastor in those places.
I find it very interesting – with a note of pride – that often the guest speakers at our annual assemblies comment on the great spirit that exists among the priests of our diocese. They are very correct. We have a unique unity among us and that unity is even more magnified now since our Bishop is one of our own priests.
So, I ask you and encourage you to pray for your Bishop and priests. Pray that we may stay alive in the Spirit and ready always to dedicate ourselves to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ . May it be very evident in all that we do that we are disciples of Jesus always ready to give of ourselves for the people of our parish.
I ask and encourage you to pray that the Spirit will lead more and more men to seek the priesthood and that more and more men and women work together with their pastors in bringing the faith alive within their parish.
May the Spirit be alive within us all that we may make our diocese a better place – more alive in the Lord.
One more note – a note of gratitude. I want to thank God for leading me to be part of this diocese and becoming a priest in the Diocese of Ogdensburg.