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Father Muench Says...

Celebrations mark the past, the future

Aug. 16, 2017

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

This past weekend I attended two parties.  On Saturday evening, I attended the dinner of the 45th Anniversary celebration of the graduation of the 1972 High School class of Immaculate Heart Central High School in Watertown.  I was teaching at the high school when these folks were in school.  It was a terrific, enjoyable evening.

On Sunday evening, I attended my great-niece, Anna’s high school graduation party.  She and her class graduated from Fayetteville-Manlius High School in June.  The party was a great time, a gathering of her classmates as well as her family and many parents at a neat sort of place, a pizza place which includes three volleyball courts
I enjoyed both evenings. At the 45th celebration, I renewed many friendships from the past.  It was an evening filled with stories.  There were many experiences to share.  I learned of families formed and developed over time – about children and, for many, grandchildren.

In addition, there were all sorts of other stories – stories of successes and careers.

I must share with you a pleasant surprise that night for me.  One fellow – who I did remember – sought me out to thank me for giving him an interest and passion for photography back in high school.  I remember that he had joined me in a dark room project back then.  It seems that photography continues to be an important part of his life.  It truly made my day.

The high school graduation party was obviously a very different time.  Anna’s party was filled with lots of enthusiasm and energy.  There were lots of conversations – some rather noisy, even some shouting.  It seemed to me that these youngsters were still celebrating their high school graduation. 

They were celebrating this new phase in their life and their enthusiasm was contagious.

I enjoyed the opportunity to talk with them and their parents.  Many parents shared with me their recognition of this new phase for their families and their own selves.  They would soon be sending a child into a new adventure; there would soon be a new separation in the family.

I recognized that this would be a time for new decisions by parents as well as for the recent graduates.  I was intrigued because I have never experienced such moments in life.

Both evenings gave me a great deal to think about and a time for my own memories.  I remember well those early days in my priesthood when I was teaching in high school.  They were special days in my life.  There were so many good opportunities for interacting with students.

I was, of course, rather young in those days and I know I should be grateful to my students, like those at that anniversary celebration for teaching me a great deal.

They taught me about being a good teacher and also about being a good priest.

Spending an evening with the recent high school graduates also called to mind for me of my own high school years when I was called upon to make my own life decisions.  Each time I look back like this I wonder a bit if I would or should have made different decisions. 

I often wonder what things would have been life if I did make different decisions.  However, I have been blessed.
So, let me close this by reaffirming to you and to myself that I am grateful to the Lord’s many gifts to me of a happy life filled with unique opportunities as a priest.  I have been blessed with good assignments. 

As a pastor, I have been allowed to become a part of many wonderful families.  I have had the joy of standing with them in so many times – and also to have the power of the spirit to be with them at the sad times that life brings. 

So, as I look back – I celebrate as those at the anniversary dinner and I rejoice with enthusiasm as those kids just graduated from high school.  

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