Fr. Christian Reuter celebrated Eucharist at his 50th Priesthood Anniversary on Sunday, June 26, 2016, at 11:00 AM, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (411 Palmer Road, Columbia, IL.). Co-celebrants were Bishop Stanley Schlarman (Diocese of Belleville Bishop in Residence), Fr. William Spencer, OFM Provincial Minister (Sacred Heart Province, St. Louis, MO) and Fr. Carl Scherrer (Immaculate Conception Pastor). Fr. Chris was especially grateful to all who participated in the liturgy and in particular Otto & Mildred Reuter and the many family members, fellow clergy & religious, parishioners, students, and colleagues who spanned 50 years of priestly service, especially those who can only be with us today in spirit. After the Eucharist all gathered for a luncheon in the Fellowship Hall.
Fr. Chris was ordained as a Franciscan priest in 1966 and served for 35 years in the Archdiocese of Chicago as a teacher and later as principal of Hales Franciscan High School. He also served as pastor of Corpus Christi parish in the inner city of Chicago that provided Fr. Chris a unique glimpse into the criminal justice system. Fr. Chris had chosen for his Ordination Prayer Card (June 24, 1966) the Hebrew 5:2 Scripture: “He is able to have compassion on the ignorant and erring because he himself also is beset with weakness.” This was most appropriate as he recalls his years as a teacher, principal and now the Coordinator of Prison Ministry for the Diocese of Belleville.
In 2002, Fr. Chris switched gears and got involved in prison ministry in the Diocese of Belleville, IL at the invitation of the then-bishop of Belleville, Wilton Gregory (now archbishop of Atlanta). This calling fit the description of the ideal Franciscan ministry that is focused on -poor, crime-ridden, overlooked, and abandoned areas by both Church and society. Over the next 13 years he has served to bring a Catholic presence to the federal-state-local correctional centers spread over 28 counties in the Diocese of Belleville. He established a statewide network for prison ministries that comprises the Illinois six Catholic dioceses and serves as the Coordinator of Prison Ministry for the Diocese of Belleville. He continues to serve as a prison chaplain at several prisons and coordinates the clergy, deacons and lay volunteers to provide a Catholic presence at these prisons and jails. He speaks very often at national prison ministry gatherings on reconciliation, spirituality and restorative justice issues.
We are continually blessed by the presence and leadership of Fr. Chris both inside and outside the prison walls as he continually offers the call to serve with compassion and mercy the marginalized men and women in our prisons and jails.
God Bless Fr. Chris as he continues to bring “Peace To This House.” (Luke 10:5)