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Father Muench Says...

Appreciating priests

October 4, 2023

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Recently, our diocese celebrated Priest Appreciation Sunday. Each parish expressed their appreciation to their pastor for his dedication to the people of the parish. Today, I would like to take a few minutes to acknowledge my appreciation for the priests who have touched my life in a special way. I truly appreciate them. I have been blessed to have had many priests help and guide me. I believe Jesus sent them into my life.

I have been grateful when I was mentioned and appreciated by the people of a parish while I was active. It was a very special recognition. I am certain that each pastor and priest in the diocese has been very grateful when told that they were appreciated.

Now my most appreciated priests: This story goes back to my own childhood. I suspect I have told you this story before, but here we go again. My mother died when I was 10 years old. On the day of her death, I was a camper at a summer camp, Lourdes Camp on Skaneateles Lake. The chaplain at camp was on of those priests that everyone really liked. I am disappointed that I can’t remember his name today. However, I will never forget his gentleness. He invited me to take a walk with him. As we walked, he carefully and gently explained what had happened to my mother. I continue to remember how good he was with me. I certainly do appreciate that he was there for me and continue to remember him. He was there for me at a crucial time in my life.

Today, I would like to also mention my appreciation for many priests who were so supportive to me during my ministry as a priest. I always knew I could call upon them when I needed them. I truly leaned on them. Many became close friends, and their friendship was special to me. I continue to appreciate their friendship. They were priests who brought the presence and support of God to me. Many of them are now with the Lord. I remember them in my prayers. They helped me to be a good priest.

Today, I would also like to make certain to you that I appreciate all our priests of our Diocese of Ogdensburg. They all minister with love and enthusiasm, bringing the love of our God to all our people throughout the North Country. I am appreciative of our many young priests who add so much to the spirit of our Catholic Church in this diocese. They add so much spirit and enthusiasm to their ministry. They have made a powerful dedication as they begin this lifelong vocation to the priesthood as a priest in our North Country. They are all worthy of appreciation.
I would be amiss if I did not add to this life my appreciation for the dedication of our bishop, Bishop Terry LaValley. Since the day of his call, he has been a great leader to the people of our diocese, a true bishop to the priests of this diocese. He is special to us all, special to each parish of the Diocese of Ogdensburg.

I close with this reflection: “Lord, I sometimes wonder where I’m going and what is the meaning of my life. I wonder especially what each year holds for me. Will it bring joy or sorrow, success or failure, life or death? But then I remember that you came on earth; and that you still travel the road of life with me. And so I say to my soul: ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand in the hand of Christ, your Brother; that will be better than a light and safer than a known path.’”

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