Not exactly retired, but listed as such on paper, Deacon George Munie still “helps out” as he can, especially when people request his ministry at St. Pancratius in Fayetteville.
Deacon Munie served St. Pancratius Parish for more than 22 years, getting to know and ministering to parishioners and their families.
Most recently, Deacon Munie and his wife, Billie, returned to the parish for the baptism of Amelia Reuter, 6-month-old daughter of Barbie and Mat Reuter.
Not only is he baptizing Amelia but he also prepared her mother for first Communion and her marriage.
The Reuters, who live in Venedy, wanted their daughter baptized at St. Pancratius because this is their parish, their home, and Deacon Munie is part of their family.
Deacon Munie still remembers his “call” to be a deacon, he said.
In 1972, Billie and George Munie were attending a marriage enrichment gathering at the shrine where Father Roger Karban talked about the reinstatement of the diaconate following the Second Vatican Council.
Something resonated with George Munie, and putting his hand over his heart, he said: “I felt it right here. I wanted to talk to Billie; I said I wanted to be a deacon.”
In 1980 he was a member of the first post-Vatican II class of 23 to be ordained a permanent deacon by the late Bishop William J. Cosgrove.
To prepare for ordination as a deacon, the class studied for three years, and then later, Bishop Wilton Gregory encouraged him to pursue more study through the LIMEX, a course of study first offered in the diocese during the 1990s.
Both he and Billie took the classes.
During his study and early years, Deacon Munie worked full time as a truck driver and mechanic for Illinois Distributing.
Deacon Munie said ordination changed him, as did his ministry. While he says he is still bashful, he had no idea how he would lead people in prayer or preach homilies, but through ordination to the diaconate, he said he received that grace he needed.
His first assignment: St. Teresa Parish in Belleville with the late Msgr. C.J. Cunningham, working with Pre-Cana and in charge of the parish renewal as well as assisting at weekend liturgies.
Then the couple moved to Fayetteville and he began assisting the late Msgr. Leonard Bauer, pastor at St. Pancratius at the time.
Msgr. Bauer retired because of ill health and Father Vito Lopardo was assigned until he retired for health reasons.
Deacon Munie became the parish life coordinator, and with Billie, ministered to everyone in the parish.
Now the couple lives in Mt. Vernon and he assists Father John Iffert, St. Mary pastor as he can.
Looking back on 35 years as a deacon, he has “no regrets” although he wishes he had more time with people, more time for ministry.
“I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” he said. “I really feel I had a call, but I still wonder why I was called to be a deacon.”
— Liz Quirin