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Father Muench Says...

Grateful for ‘congratulations,’ Holy Spirit

June 5, 2019

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, I begin with words of gratitude to so many for honoring me on my Jubilee year – 60 years since my ordination as a priest. I am truly grateful to the Lord for his goodness to me. I must tell you that one of the first who sent congratulations was one of the first people I met as a priest. As I arrived at my very first assignment after ordination, she was an elementary student at St. James Parish in Gouverneur. We have remained friends all these years.

Each year at the Presbyteral Assembly, the spring meeting of all the priests of the diocese with our Bishop, we dedicate one of the evenings to honor the year’s Jubilarians with a special Mass. So, this year, my class – those with whom I was ordained with – were one of the Jubilarian classes to be honored. Three of us in the class met each other on the first day of seminary at Wadhams Hall and have ministered together in this diocese all these 60 years.

I must add my gratitude today to the people of my parish now who remembered me, as well as many former parishioners from the other parishes where I have served. And I want to offer my thanks to my own family who have supported me all of these years.

I must add my prayers of gratitude to God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – for choosing me to share the gift of priesthood and blessing my priesthood with happy assignments and constant support.

Now as this year’s Liturgical Year moves toward Pentecost Sunday, I celebrate with joy the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles.

In many ways, the story of Pentecost is my story. In those days, the apostles were together in the Upper Room. They have experienced the resurrected Jesus. Yet, they are still not ready to bring to people the message of Jesus. They were still afraid; they were afraid until they received the power of the Holy Spirit.

This makes me think back to my early days as a priest. I realized I needed the power and support of the Holy Spirit to make me ready to truly become a priest. I must tell you about my first pastor, Father Bailey. He had been one of my professors at Wadhams Hall – an excellent teacher of English and public speaking. He was a strong influence on my readiness to preach through those speaking classes. During my year with him as a young priest, he continued that influence. He was truly a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Like every priest, the Holy Spirit has been a very powerful part of my life – leading, guiding and challenging me. I am grateful to the Holy Spirit and for the many gifts of the Holy Spirit that made me who I am. Each time I explain the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to a Confirmation class, I must stop and offer a prayer of gratitude to the Holy Spirit.

So, a quick look at the Catechism: Do you remember the Gifts of the Holy Spirit? (1) Wisdom – understanding life from God’s point of view; seeing the glory of creation as God the Creator sees us all. (2) Understanding – the Holy Spirit allows us to grasp the deeper meaning of the truths of our Catholic faith. (3) Counsel – the gift of prudence; guiding us to judge how to act well in the Lord’s Spirit. (4) Fortitude – Courage to live a right and proper way of life. (5) Knowledge – understanding the meaning and purpose God has for each one of us. (6) Piety – ready and willing to serve God out of love. (7) Fear of the Lord – understanding the greatness and awesomeness of the Lord.

The Holy Spirit transforms us with these gifts.

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