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Father Muench Says...

So many priests for whom I am grateful

Nov. 22, 2017

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

It is time again for the celebration of Priest Appreciation.  I would like to focus a bit today on the many priests that I truly appreciate.  My thought as I begin is to offer my appreciation for all the priests of my diocese, this Diocese of Ogdensburg.

At my ordination as a priest, I truly became part of a family, a brotherhood of the priests of the Diocese of Ogdensburg.  So, today, I offer my prayer of gratitude for them all, remembering those who are now with the Lord  as well as those now ministering here in the North Country – young and old.

First of all, let me begin with a prayer of gratitude and appreciation for our bishop.  Bishop Terry LaValley has proven to be an excellent bishop for the Diocese of Ogdensburg. He knows us all; he is one of our own priests.  Bishop LaValley is a truly caring priest and a wise leader for us  priests. 

Our Diocese of Ogdensburg has been blessed with many fine bishops.  Since I was a seminarian I have experienced ten of those bishops. 

Today, I pray for Bishop LaValley – may all continue to go well for him.

As a student and a young priest, I met and became friends with most of the priests of our diocese.  There is a wonderful spirit and unity among the priests of this diocese.  Today, let me take a moment to remember in a special way one of my early favorites, Father George Whittaker.  During the summer before my last year of study at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, I spent several weeks living with and helping Father Whittaker.  I remember the parish – it was St. Henry’s, DeKalb Junction.  It was a great introduction for me to parish ministry by a very dedicated and loving pastor.

In addition, Father Whittaker was a real help to me in my preparation for ordination.  I am truly grateful for Father George’s part in my life and in my priesthood. 

As I remember this, I also realize what a surprise it all was that I was assigned to be with Father Whittaker that summer.  As a matter of fact, there would be plenty of surprises in my life as a priest. 

As a young priest, I was assigned as an assistant pastor to work with several pastors.  I thank the Lord for placing me with wonderful priests and pastors.  They all certainly helped me to develop into a better priest and pastor.

In addition, over the years, I have worked in ministry together with many of the priests of this diocese.  This would include many who I studied with and many others who truly enriched my ministry.
Over my years as a priest, I have worked with many priests, great priests, young and old priests.  They were all gifts to my ministry.

I would like to include here the many priests I worked with over the years when I was teaching in our Catholic high schools.  They were friends and guides, gifts to my ministry and teaching.

Let’s see who I remember – there was Father Grif Billmeyer, Father Maurice O’Neill, Father Bob Manning, Monsignor John Pendergast who  are all with the Lord now.

There were many, many others. I consider them all a great part of my life – friends and guides – and I am grateful for all that they did for me and I appreciate their part in my life.

I would like to mention another note of priest appreciation today. I am thinking of my appreciation for the young priests of our diocese. 

I must admit that most of the priests of this diocese are younger than I am but I’m thinking of the young priests who were ordained during the last few years.

I find them enthusiastic and I am impressed with their dedicated ministry.  I do believe we must all pray for a new increase in vocations to our priesthood.

I now think of one more I want to mention.  I often have the privilege of celebrating Mass for the Sisters at the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph.  At each Mass – I am joined in concelebration by Monsignor Robert McCarthy.  Father Mac is a resident in the Priest’s Assisted Living wing at the Motherhouse.

Father is well into his 90’s and he has dedicated his long priesthood to our diocese. I want to honor him and offer my gratitude for his ministry and priesthood. I truly appreciate his priesthood.

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