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Father Muench Says...

Gathering with priests of the diocese

Sept. 22, 2021

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Last week, I attended the yearly priest’s convocation for all the priest of the Diocese of Ogdensburg. As a rule, this meeting is usually held in the spring of the year. The problems caused by the covid resulted in the cancelation of the meeting the past year. This year’s meeting was now in September.

Let me take a little time today to tell you about this convocation. The first and possibly most important reason for all of us, priests, is that we get together for a day or two. This is the most enjoyable experience is spending some time with all the other priests of our own diocese. It has been over several months since I had last seen many of my brother priests. This diocese spreads out across the North Country, so our priests are spread out in their various parishes. There are a few celebrations for us to get together – like at our Cathedral Church for the Chrism Mass each Holy Week – however, this is only for the Mass. This convocation gives us the opportunity to spend a few days together with each other and with our bishop. This gathering strengthens the unity of the diocese. All the Catholic Church is truly represented.

One of the high lights of this annual convocation is the opportunity to celebrate the Jubilee Anniversaries of certain priests. This is an important occasion – we celebrate the ministry and service of those who were ordained 25 years, 40 years and 50 years. Personally, I do remember the year of my fiftieth anniversary. My classmates and I who were ordained 50 years before were celebrated at the convocation that year. It was rather great to have all the priests celebrate us.

Part of the convocation each year is to invite a speaker, usually an outstanding expert in some important field of interest to all the priests. I remember not too long ago that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York was our speaker. I must admit he gave several very meaningful talks. Over the years, there have been many fine speakers at our convocations.

And, of course, our own bishop, Bishop LaValley, spends time at this convocation to share with all the priests important messages about diocesan matters and also concerns of the Catholic Church Universal. I know the bishop is always open to private conversations with one of the priests. This convocation is a unique opportunity for each of us, priests, to seek out some private time with the bishop.

I do want to assure you that this convocation has plenty of time for prayer. Each session during the day is begun with a prayer. And, of course, there is the celebration of Mass each day. One Mass is an opportunity to celebrate and remember this year’s Jubilarians, and there is a prayer service to remember in prayer those deacons and priests who have died during the past year. Each priest is encouraged to spend some time in personal prayer in the chapel before the Blessed Sacrament.

Often, the convocations allow for time for the priests to get together – sort of some free time – to hike, to play golf, to visit something of interest nearby, or just time to hang out together to renew a friendship or to develop a new friendship among the priests of this diocese. This has become rather valuable in recent years with the international priests serving and ministering in our diocese.

Did I mention that usually the committee makes certain that the food is rather good also?

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