When we think about our uncle, what immediately comes to mind is stability and constancy. We grew up with the familiar sight of Fr Bill walking the family farm on his day off as he was praying the breviary. On the day of his ordination in 1968, the Bishop asked Fr. Bill, “Do you resolve to implore with us God’s mercy upon the people entrusted to your care by observing the command to pray without ceasing?” Fr. Bill took that promise to heart and we can attest that he has faithfully done so for 50 years! Not only was that fidelity an inspiration and seed for our own future vocations, but it was the bedrock that grounded and strengthened his service over the ups and downs of service. As Jesus says, “without me, you can do nothing” and Fr. Bill checks in with Him at least 5 times a day by praying the breviary daily!
That stability marked Fr. Bill’s service through the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s, which could be tumultuous at times both inside the Church and out. He was the calm presence that helped people keep moving forward even when it might seem confusing or uncertain. It is not uncommon to meet people who find out who we are and then immediately ask, “How is your Uncle?” Then without fail they share a story of how he brought them back to the Church, visited them in the hospital, guided them through a loss, helped get their kids into the parish school, etc. A priest is called to be a witness of faith and belief that helps give a foundation for others, and Fr. Bill does that so well. None of us will fully know until heaven those people we have helped influence, but we have certainly met many whose lives were impacted by Fr. Bill!
One of the things Fr. Bill would often talk about were the amazing stories he had from the hospital. If you did not know this, Fr. Bill dedicated a lot of time to ministering at Sparrow Hospital at Lansing during his time at
Resurrection Parish. Over dinner he would share about the “chance” meeting with someone in an elevator, which allowed him to visit their loved one and help bring the mercy and comfort of Christ. Or, he would talk about meeting the person who had been away from the Church for many years, but he was able to bring them back to the Sacraments. Jesus loves to serve those who are sick and suffering, and Fr. Bill dedicated himself to that work of mercy. We have both seen Christ do incredible things during hospital visits and Fr. Bill helped give us those expectations!
So, it is with gratitude that we thank God for our uncle’s ministry and life as a priest. We do so on behalf of the
whole Church and those he served. We do so on behalf of our family and ourselves because it was his witness that first helped us hear our own call to the priesthood. Fr. Bill, thank you for saying yes to Jesus and pouring out your life for our behalf and that of the Church. May you continue to serve and bear fruit for many more years to come!
Fr. Todd and Fr. Gary Koenigsknecht