Fr. David Reitzel, left, is the latest in the Reitzel family to join the priesthood. He was ordained May 7 in Hamilton, Ont. He’s seen here with his uncle, Fr. Frank Reitzel. Two other Reitzel’s are also priests and another will be ordained next year. Photo by Eugene McCarthy

Reitzel family from Waterloo is a priestly dynasty

By  Eugene McCarthy, Catholic Register Special
  • May 21, 2016

HAMILTON, ONT. – A visitor to the Kitchener-Waterloo area, looking for “Fr. Reitzel,” might get this reply to their query: “Which one?”

There is Fr. Frank, Fr. Ray, Fr. Harry and now Fr. David, the latest in the Reitzel family to be ordained to the priesthood.

Fr. David joined the Reitzel clerical dynasty when he was ordained May 7 by Hamilton Bishop Douglas Crosby at Christ the King Cathedral in Hamilton.

The cathedral was filled to near-capacity, including fellow seminarians and parishioners of the new priest’s home parish, St. Agnes in Waterloo, Ont.

The sole ordinand at the ceremony, the newest Fr. Reitzel, 28, joins the ranks of the diocesan priesthood, unlike his three relatives who are all members of the Congregation of the Resurrection (the Resurrectionists).

The dynasty is expected to grow even further, with Jonathan Reitzel currently enrolled in philosophy studies for the diocese.

“It is remarkable that the Reitzel family has given four priests to serve the Church — three as members of the Congregation of the Resurrection, and now, Fr. David Reitzel for the Diocese of Hamilton,” said Crosby, while also noting the soon-to-be-ordained Jonathan Reitzel.

“So, it is right to say that the Reitzel family has been generous to the Church.”

In his homily Crosby exhorted Fr. David to be, among other priestly attributes, “merciful, joyful, compassionate, holy… just like Christ, the Good Shepherd.”

Fr. Frank is the senior living Reitzel and about to mark his 67th anniversary of priesthood. He and Fr. Harry, ordained in 1965, live at Resurrection Manor in Waterloo while Fr. Harry’s biological brother, Fr. Raymond, ordained in 1961, lives in residence at nearby St. Jerome’s University.

Fr. Frank is a second cousin to Frs. Raymond and Harry. The latters’ uncle, Alexander, who died in 1951, was also a Resurrectionist.

Fr. Frank was first cousin to the late Mike Reitzel. He was the father of John, who is Fr. David’s father.

All three of the senior Reitzels have had dual careers, both teaching and pastoral work in many different locales.

Fr. Frank said that respect for the priesthood came from his parents.

“From early childhood I was always impressed by the reverence and deference my parents showed to priests,” he said.

He was also impressed by the priests who taught him, particularly Fr. Jerome Arnold at St. Jerome’s High School in Waterloo. It’s one of the reasons he became a teacher himself, a career that spanned 41 years.

“So, my vocation to priesthood was tied to a profession of teaching,” he said.

Fr. David begins his priestly career at St. Matthew parish in Oakville. He interned at St. Michael parish, also in Oakville, whose pastor, Fr. Jason Kuntz, gave the homily at Fr. David’s first Mass on May 8 at St. Agnes Church.

The Reitzels have been long-time members of St. Agnes where Fr. David was ordained a deacon a year ago. The parish is also celebrating the upcoming ordination to the permanent diaconate June 4 of parishioner Edward MacIntosh.

One of the seminarians at both ceremonies — and one of the lectors at the ordination — was 28-year-old Curtis Miller, also from Waterloo. He began his seminary studies with Fr. David but decided after three years to join the Norbertine order stationed in California. He has three years left before ordination and is currently continuing his seminary training and teaching in Toronto.

(McCarthy is a freelance writer in Waterloo, Ont.)

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