Joseph Anthony Reitz, the fourth child of Anthony and Edith Daller Reitz was born on Sunday, December 25, 1927. The Star of Bethlehem must have shown brightly over the little house on the family farm in Keene Township, Michigan as Joseph's parents and three siblings welcomed him into this world. Every year thereafter, with the exception of 2018 and 2019, Joseph celebrated the birthday he shared with the Baby Jesus at the home he considered one of the most precious places in his world.
Shortly after his 92nd birthday, on January 5, 2020, Father Joseph A. Reitz was called to join his Divine Father, his brother, Jesus Christ, and the most Holy Spirit in his forever heavenly home. For those of us who knew Father Joe well, we're confident he has already begun straightening up any less than desirable situations found in this new home. We're also confident that Tony, Edith (who died when Joseph was a toddler), and Mabel (the woman he knew and loved as his mother on earth), as well as his siblings William, Virginia, and Margaret have joined him at long last in an absolutely joyous and perfect reunion.
While no one knows for sure if an individual's chosen vocation may have taken another turn under different circumstances, one has to wonder if Joseph's musical and acting abilities were overlooked when it came time for his parents to 'direct' his life. According to two of his last high school report cards, the traditional classes earned him an overall 'Good' mark while in public speaking and vocal, he was recognized as earning 'Excellent' to 'Very Good' marks. Joe also demonstrated high aptitude for carpentry and mechanics – skills which served him well into his retirement.
Regardless, Joseph listened to God's calling to the priesthood and faithfully served an untold number of individuals as their parish priest from June 1953 until his retirement in June 1993. His path took him two times to St. Mary in Muskegon, then to St. Rose of Lima in Hastings, St. Francis in Muskegon, St. Bernard's and mission parish of St. Ignatius in Irons and Luther, Our Lady of the Lake in Prudenville and, St. Stephen and St. Theresa in Lake City and Manton. In addition, from 1958 to 1961, he served as a professor and athletic director at Muskegon Catholic Central. Also of note, Fr. Joe was one of the original founders and board members of Manistee Catholic Central.
In the early 1960's, Fr. Joe suffered a closed head injury in an auto accident. Those of us who knew his jovial, fun-loving personality suspect the accident changed his demeanor and relationship with a portion of his immediate family – a change perhaps not evident or known to others through his many subsequent years of service. God's plans are not always our plans.
Upon Fr. Joe's retirement in June 1993, he returned to his beloved family farm, joining his brother, Fr. Bill, and sister, Virginia, also in their retirement years. The ‘farm’ was truly his place of pride and security but, being only one relatively old man with an aging brother and sister, he knew he would require the help of many friends and individuals and, as we know, he was most adept at recruiting the people he needed as well as their equipment. You know who you are so hopefully, an unsaid simple "thank you" will suffice at this time.
As his retirement years progressed, Fr. Joe sought out the help of a little-known order of nuns, The Trinitarians of Mary, who helped keep up the farm, provided personal care for Fathers Bill and Joe, and proffered spiritual solace to others in the area.
In February 2018, as the ravages of Alzheimer’s became truly evident, Fr. Joe left his farm to reside at St. Ann's in Grand Rapids where he was lovingly cared for.
Father Joseph Reitz was preceded in death by his parents and three siblings, Father William Reitz, Virginia Reitz and Margaret (Howard) Scheid. Immediate survivors include Margaret's six children, Mary Jo (Kenneth) Cusack, Barbara (Barry) Trierweiler, John (Daniel Snyder) Scheid, Joseph (Marybeth) Scheid, Jeanette (Cindy) Scheid, and Daniel (Kate) Scheid. Special thanks are due to his friends Jim and Jerry, who, for many years provided immense help managing Fr. Joe's health care and financial matters.
Mass of Christian Burial will be 11:00 AM Thursday, January 9, 2020 at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Belding with Bishop Steven J. Raica as principal celebrant. Committal prayers will follow at St. Mary Cemetery, Miriam. Visitation will be Wednesday January 8, 2020, 6-8 pm with a Rosary at 8:00 pm at Johnson-Feuerstein Funeral Home, 203 Pleasant St., Belding, MI. 48809. In lieu of flowers donations may be given to Emmanuel Hospice or St. Ann’s Home. Envelopes will be available at the funeral home.
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