October 28, 2016

2016 Vocations Supplement

Deacon hears the call to ‘be Christ for those in need’

Deacon David Reising greets a person at a Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Bedford. Ordained in 2008, Deacon Reising is involved in many ministries in the Bedford faith community and St. Mary Parish in Mitchell. (Submitted photo)

Deacon David Reising greets a person at a Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Bedford. Ordained in 2008, Deacon Reising is involved in many ministries in the Bedford faith community and St. Mary Parish in Mitchell. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

The father-to-be became so agitated that hospital employees were on the verge of calling security when someone decided to call Deacon Dave Reising first.

As a chaplain for St. Vincent Dunn Hospital in Bedford, Deacon Reising rushed to the scene where the angry-looking man was yelling in Spanish.

“His wife was in labor, and they took his wife away from him, and he wasn’t going to let that happen,” Deacon Reising recalls. “I was wearing black, and I had my deacon cross around my neck. He came over and was talking a mile a minute to me in Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish, but we got an interpreter on the phone.”

The deacon was also able to get the man to calm down.

“As soon as the baby came and everything was fine, he wanted me to stay with him the whole time. He wanted to pray together. Then he took me back to the room to bless the child.”

As nice as that story is, it isn’t the best part.

Deacon Reising matched the new parents with a couple at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Bedford who speak Spanish. Since then, the couples attend Mass together, and more Hispanic families have been drawn to the parish. Some children have been baptized, while others take religious education classes.

“We have an increasing number of Hispanic families at St. Vincent’s and St. Mary Parish in Mitchell,” Deacon Reising says. “Every time I’m in a situation like that, I feel the presence of God. A lot of times, I don’t know what to do. But I want to be Christ for people. God’s Spirit takes over, and you do the things that need to get done.”

‘He’s definitely a blessing’

The list of things Deacon Reising has done since becoming a deacon in 2008 is staggering, according to Father Richard Eldred, the pastor of both St. Vincent de Paul and St. Mary parishes.

Beyond his work as a hospital chaplain, he visits with prisoners in jail, helps with youth ministry, trains altar servers for the parishes, assists the local Catholic Charities homeless shelter for women and children, and leads an effort to bring Communion to shut-ins and parishioners in nursing homes. He’s also involved in baptisms, funerals, weddings and six Masses a week.

“He’s definitely a blessing for all of us,” Father Eldred says.

Then there’s the ministry that Deacon Reising took on to help lower teenage pregnancies and improve the odds of marriages surviving—an effort that also had the impact of creating greater respect for Catholics in Lawrence County.

Deacon Reising was an original board member of Marriage and Family Alliance, an organization formed in 2007 that involved different churches to address the issue of teenage pregnancy in Lawrence County, which had the highest rate in the state at the time, he says.

“We were trying to bring sanctity back into marriages,” he recalls. “The real issue was teen pregnancy. I would give classes to the different ministers in town on marriage preparation. Marriage prep is such an important part of having a successful marriage. We know the effect we had was a great one because we had so many people involved in it.”

Deacon Reising’s leadership also led to an improved attitude toward Catholics in the community.

“Catholics are only 2-3 percent of the community here,” Father Eldred says. “By his work with all these other ministers, he’s helped forge a path for Catholics to be better accepted. He’s helped bring a better awareness of the Catholic faith to the ministers and the people in the community.”

‘You know you need to be there’

For Deacon Reising, that improved acceptance and understanding became an opportunity to “let people see what Catholics are about—the love we can provide to the community.”

So when he has a weekly Communion service at the Lawrence County Jail for prisoners who are Catholic, he opens his time there to non-Catholics, too.

“I go through the bars, and I’m with them. That’s so important,” he says. “A lot of times, the other inmates could see the Catholics were being ‘fed’ by this, so they wanted to come, too. I give them a rosary when we pray. They want to wear it as a necklace so I have to explain to them the way it should be used. It helps them understand a little about our faith. I love that.”

He has the same approach when he visits people in nursing homes and at the hospital.

“One of the ministries that really touches my heart is to the dying—just being with them and their family,” he says. “That seems to be one area in which I especially feel the presence of God. It’s praying with them, holding their hands, just being there in silence with them.

“It fills my heart because you see how God is affecting them and their families. It’s hard, but you know you should be there. You know you need to be there.”

‘I’m doing God’s will’

His dedication and involvement as a deacon requires the support and understanding of his wife of 45 years, Kathy.

They share a family that includes two children and three grandchildren. They also share a commitment to the Church as Kathy worked for 21 years as the parish secretary at St. Vincent de Paul Parish.

And they now share lunch together on the days he serves as a chaplain at the hospital—where she volunteers in helping make sure flowers and mail reach patients. It’s one of the ways they stay connected, just as their prayer time together is.

“I know this is what he has a calling for,” she says. “I support it all the way. He’s always been a good guy, but this has brought him closer to Christ and to people.”

At 67, Deacon Reising says that love for God and his people is the essence of his life as a deacon.

“Everything I do is in support of the Church and God’s kingdom. The satisfaction for me is knowing I’m doing God’s will, no matter what that is. I think it’s important to just bring Christ to people—to increase their faith, or if they have no faith, to help them see there’s something greater than themselves.

“I want to be Christ for those in need. I know that’s what Jesus is calling me to do. That’s what he’s calling all of us to do. You don’t need to be a deacon to do it. You just have to see Jesus in every person you meet.” †

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