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Father Muench Says...

Remembering priests in prayer, stories

Sept. 12, 2018

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

September has become a road trip for me. The summer has been great, and I have – for various reasons – had the opportunities to drive around sections of our Diocese of Ogdensburg. I’ve included parts of Vermont in my travels as well. September does mark the beginning of autumn. As you know so well, this part of the world becomes a sort of wonderland during the fall. Each year, the colors seem more spectacular than ever before. So, today I want you to know that I have joined the other retired folks and taken to the road.

As I drive around, I frequently stop in a town and visit the Catholic Churches of Northern New York. I always try to take the time to wander into a town along the way and visit the church. Often, it is a parish church where I was pastor once upon a time.

This part of my trip becomes a bit of nostalgia. I remember the place and the people and the families who made up part of the parish. Occasionally, I look up some old friends.

In all the places I pass by, I remember the priests who were pastors there and all those priests who were assigned to minister at that place. So, now, I would like to take a moment to encourage you to remember the many priests who were part of your life.

I want to take the moment to call upon you to remember with respect the memory of those priests who have been part of the presbyterate of our diocese. Take the time to remember the qualities that made them such great pastors and priests. Personally, I remember so many priests who have had and continue to have a profound influence on my life and my priesthood. They have all been an important part of my life. I know only too well that our diocese has had – and continues to have – true saints among our priests, all deeply dedicated to our Catholic Church and to our Diocese of Ogdensburg.

Recently, on a Sunday afternoon, I walked down to the Battlefield here in Sackets Harbor to listen to an orchestra playing there. It was part of the summer Sunday concert series. During the intermission, I struck up a conversation with a lady who was sitting nearby. It came up in our conversation that I was a retired priest living in town. She then began to tell me of the many priests who have been part of her life as a Catholic. She had driven quite a distance to the concert, and she began to tell me the pastors she remembered in her town. She also added many great stories about those priests and how they had influenced her family.

This happens to me often when I meet someone, and they determine I am a priest. They want me to know of the many priests that they knew and remembered and loved. There are many lovely stories.

One more thing today! It is important for me to take this opportunity to offer my gratitude to all of you – all of you lay men and women. You continue to be such an important source of support to all of us, priests – the active ones and the retired ones also.

I can personally guarantee you that your prayers and good words have strengthened and challenged my ministry. So please, I encourage you to continue your support and your prayers for all of us priests. And a quick reminder to pray for our Bishop Terry and our Holy Father, Pope Francis. Thank you.

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