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Father Muench Says...

Inspired to remember my ordination

August 26, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

The past few weeks have been a time filled with ordinations. Here in our own Diocese of Ogdensburg, Bishop Terry R. LaValley ordained two deacons to the priesthood, and he also ordained three to the diaconate. Two of them, God willing, will be ordained to the priesthood next year.

In our neighboring Diocese of Syracuse, Bishop Douglas J. Lucia ordained a deacon to the priesthood. He also ordained three to the diaconate during this time. They also will be ordained priests next year.

Each time I attend and take part in an ordination of a new priest, I am inspired to remember my own ordination. As I join in prayer for and with someone who is about to be ordained, I call to mind so much about the day that I was ordained a priest. So, it is now a time for me to pray in gratitude to God for calling me to the priesthood. I pray to God in gratitude for leading and guiding me to study and work to become an ordained priest. I thank God for all that I have been able to accomplish as a priest. So, let me share with you some of those memories.

My priesthood is a vocation. I believe in vocation. I believe that I was carefully led and guided to the priesthood by the Lord Jesus. In many ways, often small and simple, yet meaningful, I know God led me to become one of his priests. There were many times when I doubted and was not confident in my choice. Yet, there were many very powerful experiences that were truly inspirations of the Holy Spirit leading me to begin my studies in the seminary. Those years were filled with many experiences and many wonderful people – professors and counselors – who guided me toward the priesthood in many wonderful ways.

It starts with a decision, a decision influenced profoundly by the Lord. There were eight years of study and formation. I must admit to you that they were very happy years for me; times filled with prayer as I found support and wisdom to make a good decision.

I do remember well my ordination day. There were seven of us. We had studied together and prepared together, so here we were at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Ogdensburg. With faith and love, we received the Sacrament of Holy Orders. We had already received the first stage of this sacrament, becoming deacons, and now it was time to become priests.

What did I expect? This Sacrament of Holy Orders would bring to me the grace to become a priest; it would empower me to truly act in the person of Jesus, my Savior, to bring the sacraments of the Church to the People of God.

So, I would now be prepared by the Lord Jesus to celebrate the sacraments of the Catholic Church. I would baptize. I would bring the power of the Holy Spirit to lead many to become a part of the Church and live a good Christian life. I would be prepared to celebrate the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. This ordination would allow me to bring the Body and Blood of Jesus to many – to bring the life of the Savior to many, to bring many the power to live well in the spirit of our Savior. I would celebrate the sacrament of penance through confession and absolution with the power of the Holy Spirit bringing forgiveness and reconciliation, giving new life and peace to a sinner. And I would celebrate the sacrament of the sick, bringing peace and the love of God, the healing power of the Holy Spirit to the sick and dying. These sacraments will be the challenge and the work of my life as a priest.

I must add that one of the anxieties on that ordination day was what would be my first parish assignment, who would be my first pastor.

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