HUNTINGTON — Capuchin Franciscan Father Ron Rieder is the longtime pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Huntington. In his 32nd year as pastor, one will receive an honest response from Father Rieder who wholeheartedly says, “I love this parish.”
Ss. Peter and Paul is a stewardship parish of about 1,000 families. Father Rieder says the parish is “well organized” and blessed with “good people.”
Besides the good parishioners of Ss. Peter and Paul, another joy of Father Rieder’s is the renovation of the Capuchin monastery in Huntington, the St. Felix Catholic Center, which is now a retreat center and the home to postulants or novices of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.
In the 1940s, the monastery was the residence of Venerable Capuchin Father Solanus Casey, whose sainthood cause has been opened by the Vatican. Father Rieder, at St. Bonaventure Novitiate in Detroit, personally knew Father Solanus, who would sing as Father Rieder played the organ.
“One of the greatest graces in my life was to live with Father Solanus one year,” Father Rieder shared.
Another important piece of Father Rieder’s life is Matthew Kelly, the director of Dynamic Catholic in Cincinnati. Father Rieder is Kelly’s close friend and advisor and has brought the Catholic writer and speaker to the diocese on many occasions.
The fledgling Jail Ministry Team, comprised of members of Ss. Peter and Paul and St. Mary Church, is using a Matthew Kelly book, “Beautiful Mercy,” in a series that studies the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
“These spiritual sessions are for all parish members who are interested and especially for victims of crimes, as well as former offenders or those who are affected by loved ones who are facing incarceration or have loved ones in prison,” reported Dawn Frecker, one of the parishioners spearheading the formation of the team.
“This ministry allows us to continue the great history and work with the imprisoned that Father Ron has offered throughout his long legacy in the Huntington area,” Frecker said. “I was inspired by the shelves and shelves of letters that he’s shown me in the rectory that he has received from prisoners over the years.”
She added, “The personal stories we are hearing from our own parish members and members of our own team are testament to the need in this area.”
Another group based at Ss. Peter and Paul is the Widows of Prayer, who gather for a monthly Mass to pray for priestly vocations and their deceased spouses. They also accept additional prayer requests. The apostolate can also be found at Adoration at both Ss. Peter and Paul and St. Mary.
“We are prayer warriors,” said Cathy Fitzgerald, the local servant leader. Capuchin Franciscan Father John Guimond founded the Huntington group in the 1990s. Its success has spurred Father Sebastian Twinomugabi, parochial vicar of Ss. Peter and Paul, to take the apostolate to his native Uganda.
Prayer and Adoration are part of parish life at Ss. Peter and Paul. On Wednesdays, the parish has Adoration in the Adoration chapel in the church basement from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Another longstanding tradition is the Sunday Night Rosary where the faithful gather in the church every Sunday evening at 7 p.m. for rosary.
From the Christ Renews His Parish group arose three active small faith-sharing communities. They too are quick to lend a hand when disaster strikes the community and benefits are needed to raise funds.
The parish has active volunteers who assist with funeral dinners as well.
A very strong active youth ministry called CIA, Catholics In Action, is offered for the teens who do service projects, such as raking leaves for the elderly, or caroling at nursing homes.
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