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Father Muench Says...

A priest of the Diocese of Ogdensburg

Aug. 3, 2022

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I begin today by offering my congratulations to the Diocese of Ogdensburg on its 150th Anniversary. Personally, I did not grow up in the Diocese of Ogdensburg. I was born in Syracuse. However, when I decided to become a Catholic priest, for various reasons I was directed to the Diocese of Ogdensburg. Now, after all these years, I can tell you that I am happy to be a priest, and I am blessed to be a priest of the Diocese of Ogdensburg. So, as my diocese now celebrates this anniversary, I am proud to be a part of all that is the Diocese of Ogdensburg.

Today, I was sitting in church for a while, taking time for my morning prayers. I noticed that in so many ways my relationship to my diocese was formed and fashioned by my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Lord has led and directed me in so many ways.

So, I began considering the parables of Jesus – those clever and brilliantly crafter stories of Jesus that have often been a part of my preaching and teaching – as I hoped to lead others to Jesus. My relationship to my ministry as a priest of the Diocese of Ogdensburg is laid out in these stories of Jesus.

Let me show you.

My favorite parable continues to be the story of the Good Samaritan. As a priest and a pastor, I have known many generous men and women who are and continue to be Good Samaritans. I know you remember in Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan. This Samaritan fellow stopped to help and care for a Jewish man who was robbed and badly beaten, even though Samaritans had nothing to do with Jews in those days.
In the parishes I was asked to serve, I knew so many Good Samaritans, those who were constantly ready to help in action and generosity to help those in need. They were the ones who gave me the opportunity as a pastor to make certain those in need in the parish were cared for.

Then I thought of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. In each parish, I do remember those young people who made life rather difficult for their parents – those who lived rather selfishly.

As you probably remember, the real hero of this particular parable was the forgiving and loving father. The father solves the problems of the prodigal, welcoming him home with love and forgiveness, and the father lovingly touches the older son and resolves his anger with the prodigal. I have met and counseled many prodigals. I have known and learned so much from loving fathers and mothers whose forgiving love has made their families united and filled with love and understanding. These parents have sacrificed so much for their families, especially for those prodigals.

One more to mention: the parable of Lost Sheep. I have known as a pastor many lost sheep, those who have strayed from the Lord. Through the Lord’s Sacrament of Penance, I have learned how the Lord continued to love them and follow them, gently leading them back to their God, to their Church, to their parish and to their family. Personally, the Lord has chosen me to say the right things, so as to bring the Lord’s loving forgiveness to so many.

So, I have been blessed to be part of the history of this diocese – my Diocese of Ogdensburg – as a priest of the Lord Jesus. It was truly a huge surprise that I found a home and lived out my vocation here in the North Country. The Lord knew that this was the right place for me – the right place to find so many opportunities, to be a pastor of people here in the Diocese of Ogdensburg.

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