The North Bend Eagle

 

Fr. Rezac
The Rev. Keith Rezac, a Wahoo native, became the new pastor at the North Bend and Snyder Catholic churches on July 1 [2015].

Rezac likes small-town familiarity

by Nathan Arneal
Published 7/15/15

The career path of the Rev. Keith Rezac is coming full circle.

He spent three of his training years at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. His first assignment as an associate pastor was at St. Leo’s in Omaha.

Now at the age of 61, he finds himself the pastor at St. Charles Borromeo in North Bend and St. Leo’s of Snyder.

“It’s deja vu,” Rezac said. “It’s meant to be, I guess.”

Rezac began his time in North Bend and Snyder on July 1, when he moved into the North Bend rectory amidst a flurry of activity.

“There were people all over trying to clean the place and helping unload and stuff,” Rezac said. “It was a good experience.”

Rezac grew up in Wahoo, where his parents still live. At an early age he began thinking about life as a priest.

“I can’t even say the exact age,” he said. “It started back when you’re a little kid and you’re thinking about what you want to be, a fireman, a lawyer, a doctor, and all those things. Priesthood stuck with me the longest. And to be honest, it lasted until I met my first girlfriend. Then it was no to the priesthood. I liked girls too much.”

But it wasn’t just a phase. By the time he was a senior at Bishop Neumann High School, he was once again thinking about the priesthood. Rezac talked it over with his guidance counselor, who was a priest himself, and was advised to to go to college and work, and if he still felt the call after a year, then make the move.

Rezac went to UNL to study music, and the next summer he attended a vocations day in Lincoln, a kind of job recruiting fair for the Catholic Church.

“By the end of that day I was convinced I had the call,” Rezac said.

He took the leap.

Seminary and graduate school took him to Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

Then he began his professional life an associate at St. Leo’s in Omaha then St. Columbkille in Papillion.

His first solo pastorship was in Colridge, where he also served as spiritual director at Cedar Catholic High School in Hartington.

He continued his tour of northeast Nebraska with stops in Creighton and Pierce. More often than not, he has served two parishes at once, so working in both the North Bend and Snyder churches will be nothing new to him. He said it’s important that the mission parish – the smaller of the two churches, in this case Snyder – feels like they have a full-time pastor.

“I don’t see it as, ‘Oh, they’re on their own. They know what they’re doing,’” Rezac said “It’s important for their pastor to be there as well for different things and in different ways for them.”

After starting his career in Omaha, Rezac has been placed in small towns ever since, and that’s the way he likes it. Small towns make it much easier to get to know the people of his church.

“I grew up in the small town of Wahoo, so I guess it’s just part of who I am,” he said. “In Omaha at St. Leo’s, I think there were 1,600 families. I probably got to know 400 really well. That’s only a fourth. St. Columbkille had at the time around 2,000 families, and again probably 500 families I got to know by name in a relationship.”

The one-time music major still likes to break out the guitar on occasion. He is also looking forward to working with the youth on their spiritual journey.

“In every church and every parish, no matter what denomination, the youth is very important,” Rezac said. “Sometimes they get neglected, or for whatever reason they just don’t find things interesting. It’s my job to help them find faith interesting. The younger ones, you teach them the basics, but when they get to junior high and high school they need to make that faith their own. That’s what I see as my role.”

Getting and holding the attention of those youth has gotten harder as the world and society has evolved over the years.

“With the different laws that come through lately, I agree it’s become a much more secular society,” the priest said. “That’s what led to the fall of Rome, so that kind of scares me a little bit.”

While Rezac attributes the fall of the Roman Empire to secularism, he said there is still time to turn things around in our own society with more prayer and attention to the Bible.

“You’ve got to have faith and hope,” he said. “If you don’t have that, what’s worth living? To me you have to have that gift from God of faith and hope. And it’s not something that just sits there, you have to work at it. By that I mean praying of course, but also spiritual reading and going to retreats.”

Even though his house is still in disarray as workers add new paint and flooring, Rezac has jumped right in and is looking forward to making North Bend his home and getting to know his parishioners. His early impressions have been very favorable, but he knows the going won’t always be easy.

“Every parish has a challenge,” Rezac said. “You don’t always discover it right away, but that challenge is the one that comes forward to you within a period of a year, I think. Then you tailor your ministry to that particular need that comes forward. Right now I don’t know what that’s going to be. It’s not been long enough.”

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