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Beloved Priest, Father 'Champ' dies

At 7 p.m. last night Monsignor Joseph Champlin, 77, passed from this life up to heaven, where it is presumed he didn't have to knock. His last breath was taken at University Hospital (Upstate) in the city that loved him.

In 2002, Champlin learned he had Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia, a rare form of bone marrow cancer that was incurable, but treatable. He'd undergone several successful treatments during the past five years, but in June, when the cancer resurfaced, the treatments stopped helping.

Champlin had 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.

During the 10 years he was rector at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, its downtown Syracuse doors were truly open to all.

When he retired from the Cathedral in 2006, he became priest in residence at Warners.

The good father was known for his compassion to all regardless of creed, and also his prolific writing. He penned more than 50 books, selling more than 20 million copies, on Christian topics ranging from marriage advice to meditation, and 350 inspirational messages called "Spiritual Suggestions" published in the Eagle Newspapers, which is comprised of 15 community weeklies throughout central New York. The active Catholic presbyter's familiar messages were also heard during primetime hours on Sirius Satellite multiple times a week.

Journey of faith

His favorite Bible scripture came from Isaiah 43:4 and was simply stated: "You are precious in God's eyes and I love you."

Champlin took time each day to reflect on the day before, to try to see God's action in his life. When good things were recalled, he was filled with joy and always said thank you.

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