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Ti pastor to celebrate 50 years as priest

In fact, Muench spent much of his youth at a nearby Protestant church because it had a gym where he could play basketball and other youth programs.

At the urging of a priest he met at a summer camp, he went to Catholic high school - for a day. He immediately went back to Fayetteville High.

"It was right downtown (Syracuse)," Muench recalled of his Catholic school day. "I had to take the bus and it was a long trip. I was used to things at Fayetteville and I was involved in the sports and activities there. I went back after one day."

Following his ordination, Muench was assigned to St. James Church in Governeur for a year.

He then went into education, teaching chemistry and physics at Catholic high schools in Massena and Watertown the next 17 years. He also coached basketball and did parish work.

"I enjoyed the classroom very much," Muench said. "As a priest it was a unique way to relate to young people.

"Those were very busy, but rewarding years," he continued. "There was always something happening; I was always busy. Of course, I was younger then."

The Ti priest hasn't formally taught in years, but he still regularly hears from old students.

"The names don't go away," Muench said. "I just got an Email from the very first person I met as a priest at Governeur. I just heard from a student who gave me fits as a teacher in Watertown. He's a lawyer in Syracuse who married a girl who was also one of my students. They have five children, who all went to Notre Dame."

Muench was then assigned to the Newman Center at SUNY-Plattsburgh before doing mission work in Mollendo, Peru, for three years.

"I'm the one who benefitted the most," Muench said of his mission work. "It put a new challenge and spirit into my priesthood.

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