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Father Muench Says...

Reflecting on and praying for our bishops

June 19, 2019

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I have been thinking about bishops this week. I have watched some of the television coverage of the American bishops meeting in Baltimore. I saw a few bishops I recognized, and it was interesting to hear some of the statements made by the bishops. I know there are many challenges bishops of this country are facing today. I pray for them. I do believe that they are doing their best.

In addition, like all of you, I was excited by the news that our Father Douglas Lucia has been chosen to be a bishop, the bishop of Syracuse. This is a “big deal” for us here in the Diocese of Ogdensburg. One of our priests has been chosen to be ordained a bishop.

Our diocese has been noticed again. It has been ten years since Bishop Terry LaValley, a priest of our diocese, was chosen to be a bishop – bishop of our diocese. And now another priest of our diocese becomes a bishop. I believe this is something we all can be very proud of.

Prior to Bishop LaValley, it had been many years since a priest of our Ogdensburg Diocese was chosen to be a bishop – since Bishop Conroy was made a Bishop in the 1920s.

I do want to take this opportunity to congratulate Father Lucia. I am certain that he will do well as a bishop. I realize it will be quite a challenge for him. I promise him my prayers and encourage you all to pray for him also. I have told my priest friends in Syracuse how fortunate they are to have him come as their next bishop.

As a priest of this diocese I have had the experience of “working” under several bishops. I have found that, over the years, those chosen to be our bishops have been dedicated to bringing God’s love and spirit to our parishes. I have been truly impressed by those bishops who have come to our diocese from different places, like Buffalo or Brooklyn. They have become close to us all – priests and people – and did so many good things here.

I know the bishop I remember best is Bishop Brzana. He was our bishop for 25 years. Bishop Brzana came to us from Buffalo. Personally, I remember the very day he was installed as our bishop. I was assigned to the Cathedral Parish and St. Mary’s High School. The morning of the installation, I had organized a group of high school students to help me rake and clean up around the school grounds. As we were walking, along came Bishop Brzana with a priest friend on an early morning walk. They stopped to chat with me and the students.

As a bit of an aside, over the years, the only bishop I was bold enough to argue with was Bishop Brzana, probably because he was here for such an extended time. I guess I was a bit more comfortable with him.
I do want to thank God. Our diocese has been blessed with the very dedicated and caring bishops. I know most of them have been very happy to be here with us, even those who were here for only a short time. I think some of them wished they could have stayed with us longer. I am certain they realized how great we are to be with – priests and people.

In these recent years, the Diocese of Ogdensburg has been blessed with Bishop LaValley. He knows us well, especially being a priest of this diocese. He has become a friend to all – priests and people. So, I take this opportunity to offer my gratitude to Bishop LaValley. I thank you, Bishop LaValley. You have been so caring and dedicated to my diocese.

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