News Detail
After a Half Century, Jesuit Father Joseph Retzel Retiring from Native American Ministry

May 22, 2015 — After 53 years of pastoral care for Native American communities across Montana, Jesuit Father Joseph Retzel is retiring. For the past 21 years, Fr. Retzel has served at St. Paul Mission — a steady presence on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation through times of joy and sorrow.

With Fr. Retzel’s departure, a 128-year history of Jesuit residency at Fort Belknap will conclude. "Our provincial (Father Scott Santarosa) came last October to talk about retirement," Fr. Retzel said recently. "He said, 'Joseph, I know it's in your mind to die here, but I want you to pray about it, and start thinking about retiring.'"

Fr. Retzel's prayers ended in quiet humility. "It is difficult — and I grieve — yes," he confessed. "These people are my family, and with my leaving — I'll be leaving my family. But following the provincial's lead, I've been praying about it, and I've come to the point that I see it's going to be OK.”

After graduating from Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane, Washington, in 1945, Fr. Retzel enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He next graduated from Gonzaga University and entered the Jesuit novitiate. As a newly-ordained Jesuit priest, he was assigned to serve as the assistant pastor at St. Jude Church in Havre, Montana, in 1962. He was next assigned to St. Paul Mission on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.

"It's not just that he's a special priest, he's a special person," said Mary Byrne, a teacher at the St. Paul Mission school. "Some people come here and feel like they belong. Some people come and always feel out of place. Fr. Retzel is comfortable with all the people. He's just so in tune with the people around him — he is there for all of them."

On July 15, Fr. Retzel will make a short journey to Spokane, where he will join a community of retired Jesuit priests on the campus of Gonzaga University. Those who know him best are saddened by his departure.

"I had to get my heart OK with him retiring," said Byrne. "I think if he stayed, he couldn't slow down. … I believe now that retiring is probably better for him, because if he didn't, he would never ever have a chance to just stop and relax — to just pray and be with other Jesuits."

“The people here — especially some of the elders — have taught me the importance of being present," Fr. Retzel said. "Just to be present in the moment, wherever I am. They've taught me the gift of that, the meaning of that." [Source: Great Falls Tribune]





Recent News

June 21, 2018 — Today is the feast day of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, an Italian Jesuit known for his courage in serving the sick and his dedication to the education of young students.

June 18, 2018 — Nearly 600 U.S. Catholic organizations declared that they are “still in” to support the Paris Agreement.

June 14, 2018 — Fr. Martin will speak on welcoming LGBT Catholics at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, which runs from August 21-26.

June 13, 2018 — Jesuit organizations, including the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology, are "appalled at this ill-conceived decision."

June 7, 2018 — Advice on prayer from Frs. Gillick and Carlson, longtime Creighton University priests who direct silent retreats.

(Washington, D.C., June 21, 2018) – Loyola University Chicago’s Center for the Human Rights of Children, the Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology, Kino Border Initiative, the Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities, and 11 Jesuit law schools strongly oppose the so-called “Zero Tolerance” policy of the Trump Administration, which reinforces the criminalization of migration and has already separated thousands of migrant families.

May 31, 2018 — The Jesuits of Canada and the U.S. join our brother Jesuits and the Nicaraguan bishops in denouncing recent violence in Nicaragua.

view all news

Search news

Publications
Since St. Ignatius bought a printing press in 1556, the Jesuits have been involved in communications. Today the Society of Jesus publishes a number of award-winning journals and publications. Click below to access our latest issues.

America 6/25/18

America 6/11/18

America 5/28/18



Sacred Heart Jesuit Retreat House
For those seeking to deepen their relationship with God, Sacred Heart Retreat House in Colorado is an oasis of peace.