68-year-old widower becomes priest

June 7, 2010 4:53:12 PM PDT
James Reinhart is 68 years old. He has been a husband, a father and a grandfather. After his wife passed away, he found a new calling in life. He became a priest in south suburban Oak Lawn.

It's taken many years for Fr. Jim to honor his true calling of being a priest.

"When they ask me, 'when did you enter seminary?' I tell them 1956. 'When were you ordained a priest? 2010," said Fr. James.

Reinhart prepared for the priesthood as a young man spending time in seminary but decided he wasn't ready. Not long after he left he got married and started a family. But his Catholic faith remained a big part of his life and St. Linus Church in Oak Lawn became an anchor. He was a deacon there for 27 years.

"It's a sense of awe and a sense of mystery, just a sense of closeness with God," said Fr. James.

When his wife died, Reinhart decided to fulfill what he calls God's plan and become a priest. He was in his early 60s and a grandfather and found it easier to convince his children of his calling than the dozens of dioceses he contacted around the country. Most didn't respond, he says, because of his age.

"Dad is dad, and Dad will do what Dad wants to do," said Fr. Jim of his children's reaction.

Last month, he was ordained by the archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky and returned to St. Linus on Sunday to give the homily. He says he was a bit nervous but fellow parishioners enjoyed it.

"It's been a real blessing for him to have had all that experience and to have also a very happy marriage of 27 years. So, you know, he's had a very rich life," said Fr. Bill Corcoran, St. Linus Church.

Father Jim has been assigned to a parish in central Kentucky. He starts there June 17.


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