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Father Muench Says...

Reflecting, with gratitude, on life as a priest

May 27, 2015

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

My anniversary of my ordination as a priest is during this month of May.  Actually, I know that many priests were ordained during the month of May.  The seminary schedule each year ends classes in the spring so, for most dioceses, this means ordination follows in May or June.

I do remember most of the details of the day of my ordination at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Ogdensburg.  I suspect that most of you remember the events of your wedding day.  I also remember the various emotions that hit me that day – even after all of these years.

I – like many other priests – prepared for ordination day with a week of retreat.  Over my years in the seminary, I had read a great deal about the priesthood of Jesus Christ. I had heard many priests talk about their lives as a priest and I had meditated often on the Gospels and discovered Jesus’ message to his apostles. 

That final retreat became a time to consider a life time of dedication as a Catholic priest.

The ordination ceremony was a celebration for me, for all of my classmates that day and for the Church. That celebration would continue with my First Mass that I celebrated at my own home parish, Holy Cross Church in DeWitt. 

There were so many details that occupied me and there were so many people, family and friends, who occupied my attention. 

So, there I was – facing a lifetime decision with all sorts of other things going on.

Sometimes I am asked if I ever thought on that day of my ordination that I should decide not to go on, to raise my hand and say this is not for me, I am out of here.

Thinking back all these years I don’t think I thought of anything other than “I was ready.” I truly longed to be a priest and couldn’t wait for the moment when the Bishop’s hands touched my head. 

Now I must admit that there were certainly times over the years that I thought I had had enough, that I wasn’t doing very well and I really should not continue in this ministry.  However, the Lord was good to me and the Holy Spirit continued to enliven my life and priesthood with new strength, with peaceful help and with confidence that this is where God wanted me to be.

So, I look back with gratitude. The Lord has blessed my life with unique opportunities to use the gifts that are mine.  I know only too well, that it was the Lord’s action in my life.  I have had the privilege of offering the Holy Mass many times.  I am constantly reminded by the Lord of the sacredness of the Holy Eucharist; there is something very sacred at those moments when I am at the altar.  I have come to recognize Jesus’ great love in giving us, his people, this Blessed Eucharist. I understand his desire to be present in our lives in such a wonderful way with his people. And, I have seen his love for me, allowing me to celebrate this Eucharist often and to minister to his people in so many wonderful ways.

So, another anniversary, another time to realize that another year has gone by in my journey as a priest.  I suppose that I really could tell you of all my assignments over the years. I can remember so many of the people I was privileged to work with, to help, to know.  I remember all those many families I was allowed to be part of and from whom I learned so much about life.

So, as I get older, my gratitude grows and I must admit, my hopes do also. I have hopes that there will be a few more opportunities left for me to help and to accomplish something to make my life better and my world a better place. 

I thank Jesus for the gift of these opportunities to bring his message and love to his people.  Thank you, Lord, for guiding me and guarding me and leading me.

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