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

February 19, 2019 — The Society of Jesus has four new core priorities that will guide its mission for the next 10 years, Jesuit Superior General Father Arturo Sosa announced Tuesday.

Feburary 19, 2019 — The Jesuit Conference Office of Justice and Ecology, Kino Border Initiative, and the Ignatian Solidarity Network condemn President Trump’s unwarranted declaration of a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border.

February 15, 2019 — Feeling uninspired by our current crop of national political leaders this Presidents’ Day Weekend? Take heart – there are other possibilities.

February 14, 2019 — Jesuits.org is sharing the following quotation attributed to Jesuit Father Joseph P. Whelan (d.1994) to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

February 8, 2019 — Indra Acharya was born in a refugee camp in Nepal, was educated by Jesuit Refugee Service and later attended Georgetown University.

February 5, 2019 — Today, on the 28th anniversary of his death, the cause for the beatification and canonization of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, opens.

February 4, 2019 — The delegation visited the Kohima Region of India last month to explore possible areas of mutually beneficial exchange. .

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 2/18/19

America 2/4/19

America 1/21/19



Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House
Located on the shores of Lake Lewisville in Lake Dallas, Texas, Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House is situated on an inviting 37-acre campus less than an hour north of Dallas.