Vocation families offer witness



You could say there is something in the water in Celestine.

The baptismal water, that is.

Across the country, pockets of small, faithful communities with deep Catholic roots and large families rise above average in one particular category: priestly and consecrated vocations. And one of those such places is right here in the Diocese of Evansville, in the east-northeast third of Dubois County.

In the past 20 years, several parishioners from this small town have discerned vocations: Diocese of Evansville priests Father Tony Ernst and Father John Brosmer; Benedictine “sister-Sisters” Susan Reuber and Jill Reuber; current seminarian Caleb Scherzinger; and brothers Cameron and Chase Riecker.

On Aug. 27, Father Jeff Read and St. Isidore the Farmer Parish hosted the Vocations Office’s first “Holy Hour and Parent Discussion” with members of these ‘vocation families.’ Cameron and Chase’s parents shared their story.

Nearly 50 people gathered to listen to ‘Vocation Families’ as part of the parent discussion following the Aug. 27 Holy Hour at St. Isidore the Farmer Parish in Dubois County.
Submitted photo courtesy of Father Tyler Tenbarge

Bryan and Gina Riecker, parishioners of St. Isidore the Farmer Parish, were married in May of 1993 and opened a chiropractic practice in July.

“We are both passionate about health and living a natural, drug-free lifestyle,” they said. “As our practice grew, so did our family.”

The Rieckers have six children. In the past three years, two of the older sons entered seminary for the diocese: Cameron in 2018 and then Chase this fall.

“When Cameron said he was applying for seminary, I was quite surprised,” Gina said, thinking back to her first son telling his parents he would be applying to seminary. “Cameron had not really mentioned it to me, but I didn’t question it. I knew he was spending a lot of time in prayer and reading a lot of Catholic literature.”

After a semester at Saint Meinrad, Cameron discerned priesthood was not the place God was calling him at the time, and so he returned home at Christmas.

Gina continued, “When he came home and said he was not going back, I was a little surprised at that as well, but we all knew he had been truly seeking discernment of God’s will, so it was perfectly fine.”

Gina went on to note that her son didn’t waste his time in seminary. “He got the opportunity to further grow in his faith and is now teaching theology at a private school in Arizona, and is continually learning more about the direction he is to take next.”

Most parents never experience their son (or daughter) taking a step in the direction of a celibate vocation. The Rieckers had it happen twice.

“Chase had a girlfriend who was part of our family,” Gina said. “We all loved her and were extremely surprised when they both decided to take a break and look at other options. I was so appreciative of the discernment-house opportunity. The first time I saw the house, I knew it was where Chase needed to be. It felt holy, but homey. He has grown in his faith and is truly where he needs to be for now.”

After a year at the House of Discernment in Evansville, Chase entered seminary at Marian University and Bishop Bruté in Indianapolis.

When asked what made their family extraordinarily Catholic, Bryan replied, “I met the girl I fell in love with, and then I met her family, and they were a real family. Then we moved to Celestine and found a parish community who really walked and talked the faith. It’s really something that’s a part of your life here, and so it’s no surprise our sons consider it.”

Gina added that her mother, Ruth Knies, spent 50 years praying for someone in her family to become a priest. “We didn’t have to bring it up with them. Grandma had it covered!”

On a more serious note, Gina added, “I’m not sure there is a correct way to bring it up or to suggest discernment. I think it was easier for Cameron and Chase to consider the seminary because they knew they would have tons of family support. They both knew we would not only approve but applaud them for considering it.”

Perhaps that’s what is ‘in the water’ in Celestine: the Catholic faith lived in the parish and in the family; and perhaps that’s what will help more young women and men hear the call of Christ.

To find out more about how to encourage vocations in your family or to learn about the next Holy Hours and Parent Discussions, please visit evdio.org/vocations.