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Father Muench Says...

Reflecting on my priesthood

May 24, 2023

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I am writing this on the anniversary of my ordination as a priest of the Diocese of Ogdensburg. It is a special day for me, and, yes, it does seem like yesterday. As I look back today, I am truly grateful for the many blessings that God has given me over the years of my priesthood. God has been very good to me.

I remember everything that happened on that ordination day. I had just finished eight years of seminary study, and now I would be entering into the life of a parish priest. I also thank God for the great assignments that have filled my time in the Lord’s priesthood. They were all special.

I was ordained a priest by Bishop James J. Navagh. During my time as a priest of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, there have been seven other bishops. In many ways our present bishop, Bishop Terry LaValley, is very special, because he is one of us, a priest of our diocese. Here I should mention that another of my own brother priests from our own diocese has become a bishop, the bishop of Syracuse, Bishop Douglas Lucia. This recognizes our Diocese of Ogdensburg in a special way. I do want to tell you that each bishop I ministered with was an excellent, powerful leader. In addition, I found each of them to be a friend as well as my bishop. I am always happy that I was a priest of the Diocese of Ogdensburg.

I was not born or raised up here in the North Country. However, I have grown to love this diocese during my priesthood. This is a blessed area. It is a wonderful, beautiful place. I have such great memories of the lakes and mountains – as well as of the St. Lawrence River.

One of the first things I discovered after my ordination as a priest was the close community of the priests of the Diocese of Ogdensburg. I found here a family in this diocese with the bishop and the other priests. We got together often. I was to find support and friendship among them. I knew I could find a welcoming place when needed at any rectory or church in the diocese. This diocese became home.

As a priest, I have been continually educated about being a priest. My teachers have been the people and the families of the various parishes where I served as pastor. I have been so blessed; these parishioners and families have been a true gift from the Lord.

One more thing: you may wonder what has been the best part of being a priest all this time. I am certain that you probably know the answer. The best part of the priesthood for me is the gift of being allowed to celebrate the Holy Mass. I have been allowed to bring our Lord and Savior in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to God’s people in so many parishes. I remember so well that very first time I celebrated Mass. I am certain I am as nervous now as I was back then.

I suspect that you may remember my favorite Mass. I have written about it often.

My classmate as priest and also an expert hiker, Father Phil Allen, took me for an experience in the woods, hiking along the Appalachian Trail in New England. On one of those days – a very gorgeous day – we came to a section that looked out into a wide expanse of the woods.

Father Phil said, “let’s do Mass,” so we found a good place along the trail. He had brought all we needed for Mass, and we prayed the Mass together and shared the Lord’s peace and love – the Blessed Eucharist.

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