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Father Muench Says...

Feeling appreciated by God, faithful

Oct. 2, 2019

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I was impressed by last week’s issue of the North Country Catholic – the Priest Appreciation Issue. It was special to receive this appreciation for being a priest of the Diocese of Ogdensburg. I, as one priest of the diocese, was pleased to see the recognition of so many of the priests of my diocese. On Sunday, I noticed that throughout the many parishes of the diocese, appreciation was afforded by the people to their pastors and other priests serving their parish. Today, I would like to take a moment to offer my gratitude to the people of the Diocese of Ogdensburg on behalf of all of my brother priests for this recognition of their service and concern for the people of their parishes.

I want to begin this gratitude with a special thanks to God for the many ways God demonstrates his appreciation to me and to all priests. We, priests, believe that in various ways God touched our lives and led us to enter the seminary. We believe that then God showed us the way, and He called us to our vocation to choose priesthood. As a priest, I, like all others, was placed in ministry in various parishes of my diocese. We were all given opportunities to bring the love of God, the message of Jesus, and the sacraments of the Church to the people of the North Country. The joy of the priesthood came through the discovery of finding the Spirit of the Living God in those parishes where we all served. These were all signs of God’s appreciation to us.

The call of the priesthood involved a dedication filled with many sacrifices. These sacrifices were accepted as part of our vocation – a necessary part that gave us as priests opportunities to truly make this world of ours a better place. For this, we are grateful.

I think back to the times I was accepted as a pastor. As a priest, this acceptance was truly an act of appreciation. Each time a congregation joins me in Mass for prayer and Eucharist is a moment of appreciation from God and the people for my priesthood.

I believe that God has brought into my life innumerable signs of appreciation. It could be as simple as a sunny day, an enjoyable vacation or a successful parish program. I know that there are many more magnificent gifts from God that show His appreciation for me – times when I find the right ideas for a homily, times when God gives me the proper words to say to a family in crisis or tragedy, even in times when I’m given good thoughts to share with you in this column. I truly recognize all these as God’s appreciation that I became a priest.

Today, I offer my gratitude to you for your words and acts of appreciation to the priests of my diocese. Over the years, the appreciation of so many has been a true blessing and support for me as a priest. So many people have joined with me, worked with me and helped me. For this I am truly grateful. Their appreciation is a gift – a gift for me as a priest. I know well that this brings new life to all that I do as a pastor, as a priest.

Another one of the indications of the appreciation of parishioners for their pastor and priests is their involvement in the parish community, in the parish family – joining in the life of a parish with their priest in the Spirit of the Lord Jesus. I remember well the involvement and the hard work of so many in parish activities – liturgical celebrations, religious education programs, parish festivals. Wonderful people and great families joining in the work of their parish with their pastor. These are all real notes of appreciation for their priests.

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