Ti pastor to celebrate 50 years as priest

"They were lovely, lovely people," he said of the Peruvians. "They had the same concerns, questions, problems as the rest of the world."

He returned in 1996 to the longest assignment of his career - St. Mary's Church in Ticonderoga and Sacred Heart Church in Crown Point.

"This is a very good community," Muench said, seated in his office in Ti. "They are easy people to work with and we have a lot of good folks involved in the church. I have lots of help."

He noted the contributions of Deacon Elliott Shaw; Sister Sharon Dalton, principal of St. Mary's School; and Sister Carol Daul, pastoral associate at Sacred Heart Church; along with many others.

At age 75 Muench, like all priests, submitted a letter of retirement to the bishop. His was declined. That was good news for the priest.

"Ticonderoga is a nice place to be," Muench said. "I want to stay."

Staying in Ti keeps Muench near his closest friends, Father Richard Strutz of Schroon Lake and Msgr. Peter Riani of Elizabethtown.

The trio often coordinate their schedules to allow for golf, ski or other trips on Wednesdays.

They also join with Father Francis "Vinnie" Flynn of Constable to travel.

Muench has visited South America, Europe, Africa, China, Australia and New Zealand as well as traveled throughout Canada and the United States.

If he's ever going to retire, travel will be the reason.

"I've met so many people and made so many friends, it is tempting to take the time to visit all of them," Muench said. "That would be the only reason I'd retire."

Muench enjoys reaching out to friends, new and old. For 25 years he wrote a regular column in the North Country Catholic, the diocesan newspaper. Several years ago he began a weekly Email newsletter that went to more than 200 families. That has evolved into a weekly blog (www.tipastor.blogspot.com).

"There's a man in Idaho I've never met who regularly comments on my blog," Muench said. "It seems to reach a lot of people."

Muench has seen a lot, good and bad, in his church the last 50 years. He remains committed and optimistic.

"I see new priests bringing new experiences to the church," he said. "And the church is growing in so many areas, including parts of the United States. I'm optimistic about things."

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