Father Daniel Reehil celebrates his first Mass Sunday, July 27, 5 p.m., Cathedral, Nashville. He is assigned as Associate Pastor of St. Edward Church, Nashville with part-time duties at the Catholic Center.
A pilgrimage to Medjugorie, where a group of teens said they were visited by the Virgin Mary, changed the course of Deacon Daniel Reehil’s life.
He quit his job on Wall Street, delved deeply into his Catholic faith, began to discern a call to the priesthood, and ended up in Nebraska as a brother with the Intercessors of the Lamb community, leading retreats and parish missions.
When problems with the community led to the local bishop suppressing the group, Deacon Reehil decided to follow a call he had felt to the priesthood. Eventually, he came to Middle Tennessee, and on Saturday, July 26, he will be one of nine men who are ordained as priests for the Diocese of Nashville.
“I love Nashville. I love Bishop (David) Choby,” said Deacon Reehil, who was ordained as a transitional deacon last April.
It’s taken him 12 years to get to this point in his life, he said, but it’s the right place. “This is where I’m supposed to be. … Getting to where you need to be can be difficult, but in hindsight it’s clear this is where you’ve been heading all along.”
Deacon Reehil grew up in a Catholic family in Long Island, N.Y. After graduating from the University of Dayton, he returned to New York and started a career in the business world.
In 1997, he made a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. “It changed my life,” he said. While there, he went to confession for the first time in 20 years, and the priest who heard his confession said, “I think you have a calling to be a priest.”
When he returned to New York, he started taking his faith more seriously. He found a spiritual director and began praying regularly.
“I felt God was calling me to do something different but I didn’t know what,” Deacon Reehil said. One Sunday, after receiving Communion, he felt a call to follow God. “I called in sick on Monday and resigned on Tuesday.”
His life took another turn with the 9/11 attacks. Several of his friends who worked at the World Trade Center were killed in the attack. While attending a healing Mass, he met Father Tom DiLorenzo, a Boston priest who is involved in the Charismatic movement and has a Catholic radio and television program.
Father DiLorenzo asked him what he was doing with his life. When he answered nothing, he said, “Maybe you need to be in Boston.”
“I went there for the weekend and stayed nine months,” Deacon Reehil said. Father DiLorenzo became a mentor. “He lived the gospel.”
Eventually, Reehil became a seminarian for his home diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island. But while attending a silent retreat with the Intercessors of the Lamb in Nebraska, “I thought I was being called to that community.”
Deacon Reehil, as a brother, helped lead retreats at the Intercessors’ motherhouse and in parishes. “People from all over the world looking for discernment or healing would come to the Intercessors,” he said. “You can really see people’s lives changed.”
Though no longer part of the community, Deacon Reehil is still animated by its ministry of intercessory prayer and offering people’s suffering to Christ for the benefit of others.
“Suffering can be a great moment of power to help other people,” Deacon Reehil said. “When people realize they have that power to unite their suffering to the Cross … Jesus is born in hearts again.”
When he left the Intercessors, Deacon Reehil returned to Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Conn., and completed his studies last year.
Father Mark Nolte, who was from Middle Tennessee and also a member of the Intercessors, talked to Bishop Choby about inviting Reehil to serve in Nashville.
Deacon Reehil arrived in Nashville last summer and has been working at the Catholic Center doing special projects for the Finance Office and the Chancellor’s office. Since his ordination as a transitional deacon, he also has been serving at the Cathedral of the Incarnation.
Father Nolte, who currently is serving as associate pastor at St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro, has been assigned as the new pastor at St. Edward Church. After his ordination, Deacon Reehil will join his friend at St. Edward as the associate pastor.
“Mark and I are friends. We get along great,” Deacon Reehil said. “We’re similar. We both spend time in adoration every day. We like to pray together.”
Serving in the same parish together will give them some flexibility to continue leading retreats and parish missions, Deacon Reehil said.
A host of family and friends, many coming from New York, are planning to be in Nashville for his ordination at the Cathedral. “They’re all excited,” Deacon Reehil said.
He too is eagerly anticipating his ordination. “I’m just so happy to be here.”