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Father Muench Says...

A bishop from among us

Aug. 14, 2019

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, I would like to join everyone in this issue as we all congratulate our own Father Douglas Lucia as he is ordained a Bishop and becomes installed the Bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse. This is a very special occasion for him and for us, the people of the Diocese of Ogdensburg. Our diocese is honored for being recognized – one of our own priests has been chosen by our Church to become a Bishop, the Bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse.

I was thinking today that I wish I had the opportunity to speak to each of the priests of the Diocese of Syracuse. I want to tell them how fortunate they are in this opportunity of having Bishop Lucia as their next Bishop. Bishop Douglas will be a powerful gift to their diocese, a gift to the priests and people of the Diocese of Syracuse.

I know well that the Holy Spirit recognized something special in Bishop Lucia. He has always displayed a loving humility that will guide him in his ministry as a Bishop. The people of the Diocese of Syracuse will discover quickly his readiness to be a part of the life of their diocese as their Bishop.

Personally, I have been fortunate as a priest of the Diocese of Ogdensburg to have experienced the leadership of several Bishops. I know that each new Bishop assigned here took some time for this new adjustment. So, today, I pray for Bishop Lucia as he becomes acquainted with the people of each parish in his diocese. I invite you to join me in these prayers for our friend, Bishop Lucia. He will always be a part of this North Country.

I want you to know that one of the finest qualities of the presbyterate of this diocese, the Diocese of Ogdensburg, is our close fellowship and community. I discovered this early on in my own priesthood here. And this close community spirit always includes our Bishops. I often meet a former Bishop of our Diocese of Ogdensburg, and they continue to talk of the joy they found as part of this diocese. I am certain today that Bishop Lucia will take with him this spirit of community, that peace of working together, joined in love with the Lord Jesus. He will pass along that North Country Spirit wherever he ministers.

I attended the Vesper Service the evening before Bishop Lucia’s ordination. This service was very prayerful. It was led by Bishop Cunningham, the retiring Bishop of Syracuse. Bishop Lucia presented the homily. He began with a description of his own background, training and ministry until now. He seemed to reach out to the people of the diocese of Syracuse confidently promising to listen, hoping to understand their expectations of his service as their new Bishop.

I have noticed in the Syracuse diocesan newspaper that Bishop Lucia has quite an extensive schedule the next few months. He will be visiting and celebrating several parishes to visit and celebrate Mass – a time for him to discover his new diocese as he introduces himself to his people.

On that evening of the Vesper Service, Bishop Lucia greeted the people at the door of the Cathedral. This gave me and some of the priests of the Ogdensburg Diocese the chance to spend time with him. At the same time, we had time to visit with Bishop Cunningham, as well as another former Bishop, Bishop Barbarito. This was a pleasant time to share memories of their time with us in the North Country. While the events of this celebration were a very special time for the Diocese of Syracuse, it also became a time of recognition for the Diocese of Ogdensburg. We were certainly noticed – one of ours has been chosen to be the new Bishop of Syracuse.

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