Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Loss for the Long Black Line

Everyone 'round these parts is more than just a little stunned at news of the sudden and tragic death of Fr Todd Reitmeyer, a priest of Sioux Falls killed yesterday in a jetski accident while on vacation with his family in Austin.

Ordained in 2003, Fr Todd was one of the "father-bloggers," and his site has been for many a place of encouragement and solace as readers journeyed with him through his ministry; his most recent assignment has been as administrator of three parishes in the sprawling South Dakota diocese.

You'll forgive me for being shaken up -- I just heard from him two days back. On writing about the episcopal vacancies to be filled, I had forgotten to list Sioux Falls, and Reitmeyer joked that "being such a small diocese, we're used to" being overlooked.

In our correspondence, his eagerness for the coming of Sioux Falls' new bishop was clear. As the diocese has been waiting 17 months since Bishop Robert Carlson's appointment to Saginaw, Fr Todd hoped that the appointment would be soon.

To use his quote on the topic, "I hate living without a Bishop."

Fr Todd will be buried at home in Texas, with his mentor Carlson presiding.

I have prayed far too many Offices of and other prayers for the Dead this year, and I've lost at least five readers to life eternal just in these last few weeks. But that sorrow comes with the territory of being part of a community, of a communion, even one where people just know each other through e.mails and posts or, even more simply, through prayer.

The treasure of the liturgy gives us this prayer:
Lord God,
you chose our brother Todd to serve your people as a priest
and to share the joys and burdens of their lives.

Look with mercy on him
and give him the reward of his labors,
the fullness of life you promised to those who preach your holy Gospel.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord.
May Fr Todd enjoy the company of the angels and -- in these days, the difficulty of which is almost impossible to imagine -- may his family and many friends and admirers be gifted with abundant consolation and peace.

Diocese of Sioux Falls