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Father Muench Says...

Blessed by days of autumn travel

Oct. 4, 2017

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

The month of September was definitely a time of travel for me.  It has been great fun – traveling around the diocese and also to Canada.  I have piled up many miles especially through the Adirondacks.  That has been rather enjoyable at this colorful time of the year.

I have covered two parishes and visited many friends and families.

During two of those weeks, I covered St. Mary’s Parish, Ticonderoga.  This was an opportunity for me to do some ministry that is not part of my life as a retired priest.  I visited the grade school, giving me an opportunity to renew my friendship with Sister Sharon and her faculty.  I visited the hospital and brought the sacraments to the sick.  I made some home visits.  And, of course, I celebrated many Masses.

These are the usual ministries a pastor does on a regular basis.  It was so good for me to do these ministries.
In addition, I also covered the weekend Masses at St. Peter’s Parish, in Lowville.

I would like to tell you also of my trip to Canada to visit Madonna House in Combermere, Ontario, Canada.
I believe I have written of this community before. Madonna House is a religious community of lay men and lay women and priests – founded by Catherine Doherty – one of my favorite saints.

I must admit it is rather difficult to even try and describe this community, this family in words; it must be experienced.  However, if I must describe it I would say that Madonna House is a life style of prayer and work leading to a finding and following of Jesus so that Jesus can live in us and we can live like Jesus.

This spirituality has its foundation in the words and teaching of Catherine Doherty.  It is an effort to empty ourselves so that Jesus can live in us.

I went up to Madonna House this week to attend a meeting of the associate priests and deacons of Madonna House.  As an associate priest, I strive to join in the spirit and life style of Catherine Doherty and Madonna House so as to discover the blessings of bringing Jesus more alive in my life. 

The associate priests and deacons continue their ministry in their home dioceses while staying close to the life of Madonna House.  This Associates Meeting is a unique opportunity to renew in our lives the experience of Madonna House and our friendships with the various members of the Madonna House community.

For me, many of the members have been friends since I visited Madonna House as a young priest.  At this meeting, we join in the prayers and Masses of the community – as well as the meals and other activities.

At this yearly meeting, there is usually a series of presentations on something to do with Madonna House.  This year the priest staff of Madonna House shared with us the Russian roots of Catherine’s spirituality.

You may remember that Catherine is Russian and much of her spirituality and religious background was influenced by Russian religious figures and saints.

I want to share with you that this Russian spirituality is very different from our Western approach and culture. 
A simple example is the note of simplicity in the Russian spirituality.  Western religious writing and teaching can be rather legalistic, philosophical and complicated.  That Russian approach emphasizes simplicity and the experiences of life.

Madonna House continues to have a profound effect on my life and my priesthood.  The writings, talks and teachings of Catherine Doherty have touched me deeply.  (By the way, many of her talks are recorded on You-tube.)

I remember well visiting and joining in the work and life of this family as a young priest.  It was a very special part of my life.  Catherine is an important saint in my life.

This annual visit is a magnificent opportunity each year to experience again the life and happiness of being a part of this family. 

It is a time of gratitude for all that Madonna House has given to me.

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