METHUEN — In his 59 years as a priest, William J. McNaughton has had many prominent assignments such as the founding bishop of the Diocese of Inchon, Korea. Another memorable experience was attending the Second Vatican Council just a year after being named a bishop.
Pope Benedict XVI invited McNaughton for the opening celebrations of the Year of Faith commemorating the 50th anniversary of Vatican II.
On Monday, McNaughton, 85, will talk about both experiences at the luncheon speaker series at St. Theresa Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, 22 Plymouth St. The event is free, but donations are welcome.
“It was a pleasant surprise when I received the invitation from his Holiness,” McNaughton said. In August, Pope Benedict XVI sent him a letter inviting McNaughton to the opening ceremonies of the anniversary. There are only 70 bishops still living out of the 2,600 who attended Vatican II and McNaughton was one 12 who attended. The Second Vatican Council met between Oct. 11, 1962 to Dec. 8, 1965 during four separate sessions all in St. Peter’s Basilica. McNaughton was a voting member during the council.
“That was unbelievable. I’ll never forget walking in the procession with more than 2,000 bishops, priests and others. It was a beautiful ceremony,” he said. McNaughton said the highlight of Vatican II was to examine the nature and mission of the Catholic Church. Among the changes brought about by the council includes major participation by the laity, celebrating Mass in the native language of the congregants instead of all Latin and having priests face the congregation instead of the altar.
”Vatican II wanted everyone to participate devoutly and knowingly,” he said. “The Mass is not simply what we look at, it’s the worship of God and when we go to Mass on Sundays, we’re there to offer ourselves to God,” he said.