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Father Muench Says...

Appreciating the priests in my life

Sept. 29, 2021

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, I would like to join in with this week’s issue on Priest Appreciation. Personally, when I think of Priest Appreciation, I think back to the priests who have influenced me during my life. I have found help and support from so many priests in my life. However, most of them are now with the Lord. I would like to tell you about a few of them.

When I was 10 years old, I remember that I spent time at Lourdes camp, a summer camp on Skaneateles Lake. I remember the priest chaplain was Father Shields Dwyer. I remember the day he invited me to go for a walk with him. That was the day that he took me aside to tell me that my mother had died.

As a priest, when I think of Priest Appreciation, first off, I think of the bishops for whom I served. Our diocese has had several bishops over my years as a priest. I want you to know I truly have appreciated their care and interest in our diocese. That certainly includes, Bishop Terry LaValley, our present bishop, a native of the diocese.
Over my years as a priest, there have been many priests that made a difference in my life. I truly appreciate them all. Let me look back with you.

First off, there is my first pastor after my ordination as a priest. That was Father Joseph Bailey. He helped me to realize all that it takes to be a good pastor of a parish. In addition, he challenged and helped me to become a good preacher. I must admit, he was a great influence on me and on my ministry as a priest, and he came along at the very beginning of my priesthood.

Okay, a few others: There was my friend, Father Peter Riani, who truly helped me find the way. He was a fantastic theologian and a great teacher. So many times, he helped me understand some difficult idea. In addition, he taught me how to ski. I can remember many times he helped me with a presentation while riding up a ski life. I so appreciate the many good times that he gave me, as well as the help and guidance.

Another friend who helped me to be a better person was Father Richard Sturtz. He was always prepared to listen and offer my advice, often a challenge on how to be a better priest and person. In addition, he shared with me his love of travel. I joined him on many wonderful trips. Even now, I continue to appreciate his guidance.

Then there was my friend, Father Bernard Kellogg, who added so much wise guidance to my life as well as a touch of humor. He came to my rescue many, many times. For this, I am so deeply appreciative.

Let me also mention my friend Father Tim Soucy, who brought joy and happiness into each day. He knew how to make time I worked with him – and all the days of his ministry as a priest –filled with peace and happiness. What a gift he was to my priesthood! For this, I am truly appreciative.

And they are all with the Lord now. Actually, my list is much, much longer. I have been blessed with so many great, even brilliant priests who have helped to make my life as a priest more alive. I continue to be so appreciative.

Let me also add that there are many priests now working in the diocese who I consider a powerful influence on my life, priests from whom I have learned so much about the priesthood, even as I grow older. I certainly must add them to my list of appreciation.

Thank you, Lord. You have enriched my life with such great priests.

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