The 'champ' in Champlin

Author of 'Spiritual Suggestions' talks about illness, faith

Rev. Joseph Champlin, a parish priest in Warners, is well known locally and nationwide. The active Catholic presbyter has written more than 50 books on Christian topics ranging from marriage advice to meditation, and 350 inspirational messages called "Spiritual Suggestions" published in Eagle Newspapers, which is comprised of 15 community weeklies. His familiar messages can also be heard during primetime hours on Sirius Satellite multiple times each week.

As ambitious as Champlin is, he decided earlier this month to pull the plug on his weekly submissions as well as his radio spots. Why? He's battling cancer.

In 2002, Champlin learned he had Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia, a rare form of bone marrow cancer that is incurable, but treatable. He's undergone several successful treatments during the past five years, but in June, when the cancer resurfaced, the treatments didn't help. Now, Champlin is undergoing a series of eight chemotherapy sessions, of which he is on his third as of last week.

"I'm a little woozy, but am getting better, feel stronger," he said. "But, you know, it's not curable."

Serving God

Champlin, who is 77 years old, has been a priest within the Syracuse Catholic Diocese for more than 50 years. He said he felt a calling to serve early in life, but it wasn't until he was a student at Yale University that he felt prompted to act on his feeling.

"At Yale, I said 'I've really gotta try this out," he said. "If I don't try this out, and I have a bad day in life, I'm gonna say, ya know, I should have tried this. I finally made a decision into my first year of Yale that I needed to try this, and I've never had a question since."

Journey of faith

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