Fr Richard Rasch, O. de M. has been blessed to serve the Order in a variety of capacities from Prision Ministry to Pastor to Vicar Provincial. Here Fr Richard answers some question about his vocation story:
So, Father Richard, could you tell us a little about your family?
I grew up in a Middle class family. My father was Lutheran. My mother was Catholic. Many times we would go to Lutheran Services at 8am & Catholic Mass at 12noon. Both of my parents were very faithful and devoted to church. They gave good example to us in living Christianity in their daily lives.
When did you first consider Religious life and/or Priesthood?
I think the first time I thought about it was in High school. I always had the desire to go to Catholic High School, but my Father could not see spending the extra money. So I went to a public school all my life. After that I went to community college for two years. After saving some money, I was able to enroll in a Catholic College, Niagara University, to complete my bachelor’s degree.
How did you first discover the Mercedarian Friars?
I first knew Mercedarian from Niagara University. There were several friars attending the University. At that time the Order had a house near Niagara Falls on College Avenue. Different times I would stop by to pray with the community while I was in college.
What are some of positions that you have held in community and how have you served the Order over the years?
I have been in a variety of capacities from taking care of youth to prison chaplaincy, to hospital chaplaincy, to being pastor, to superior, and, also, Vicar Provincial. I was Vicar Provincial of the United States Vicariate for 4 terms (12 years).
What have been your greatest joys in Religious Life?
One of my greatest joys is preparing people to die. One of the hospitals that I was chaplain at was mostly cancer patients. I got to know the patients and their families’ real well. I ended up doing many of the funerals of these patients as well. Just being there with them and going through those difficult times was powerful. There are people that still keep in touch with me even now years later. I had their mothers or fathers funerals and they still remember me. They send Christmas cards each year. It amazes me. This is one of my greatest joys.
Another great joy is taking care of community service workers (those assigned by the courts, in lieu of, or in addition to, other criminal justice sanctions). My background is in a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Criminal Justice. I have worked for several years as a Prison Chaplain. To me the prison and hospital suited me better personality wise and ministry wise.
Do you have any suggestions for those young men who are starting to begin to think about being religious and/or a priest?
The Holy Spirit will direct you where He wants you. Be patient with yourself and be patient with the community. The grace of God is there with you to guide you.