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Father Muench Says...

Finding the strength to answer God’s call

January 26, 2022

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, I would like to begin with a moment of remembrance of the three priests of our Diocese of Ogdensburg who died during the past few weeks: Father Patrick O’Reilly, Father Adrain Gallagher and Father Roger McGuinness. This prayer of remembrance is a prayer of gratitude for these priests and for their ministry here in the diocese.

“My God, I want to thank you on this day for the excellent and the dedicated ministry of these three fine priests. I am certain that they touched many through their pastoral dedication in the parishes where they ministered. They brought God’s love and peace to many. They were dedicated priests and pastors. I thank you, my God, for bringing these priests to the Church in the North Country.”

As I pray for my three friends, I offer a prayer of gratitude for my own vocation as a priest. I thank God for the gift of my call – for the blessing to recognize my vocation as a priest and to serve as a true follower of the Lord Jesus. In a recent Sunday Gospel, we heard the story of Jesus calling his first apostles. Jesus is walking down the road near the sea. He simply calls out to Peter and Andrew who are working on their fishing boats, and he invites them to “follow him.” And then a little further on, he calls out to James and John, who are also working on their fishing boats. “Follow me. I will make you fishers of men,” Jesus says.

My call to the priesthood was not as dramatic. Yet, I know that during my younger years the Lord placed in my life many who led me and showed me that God was leading me and giving me the gifts to find the dedication and the confidence to become a priest. There were also many wonderful priests who showed me the happiness and the gifts that would help to make myself a priest of the Lord Jesus.

I remember the time of study as well in the seminary and the challenge to prepare myself to be a priest and a pastor. Recently, I read David Brooks writing about following a vocation. He said, “vocations invariably have testing periods – periods when the costs outweigh the benefits – which a person must go through to reach another level of intensity. A person who has found a vocation doesn’t feel he has any other choice – so he pushes through when it doesn’t seem to make sense.”

I must admit that there were many times when I wondered if I was on the correct path. There where times when I wondered if I had the true ability to truly follow the Lord Jesus and if I had what it takes to bring the message of the Lord to people. I wondered if I could truly be holy enough to stand at the altar of the Lord to celebrate Mass. However, my vocation was developed, I believe, through the call of my Lord and God. God would make sense over and over again of my dedication, my vocation and my firm confidence in the call of the Lord to follow him.

As a priest, I believed the Lord would constantly give me the help and wisdom and the capability to carry out the demands of being a good priest and a good preacher. I am truly grateful for this gift of the Lord. When I need help and confidence and strength and wisdom, I had learned over the years that God walks with me and gives me the help I need. I have found the happiness that I know those first apostles found as they followed Jesus.

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