Born November 2, 1961
Mother: E. Maxine (Rich) Retzloff, confirmed Methodist
Father: Lenard Edgar Edwin Retzloff, follower of Edgar Cayce, baptised Missionary Baptist on
Baptised Joel Evan Retzloff at Seymour Street Methodist Episcopal Church, Lansing, MI
Educated in Sunday School at First United Methodist Church, Lansing, MI
Public school through 9th grade in the Waverly School District, Lansing, MI
Father, Deceased January 1, 1970
Capitol City Christian School (ABA) Lansing, MI 10th through 12th grades, graduated 5/79
I was sent to private school on the advice of my mother's pastor. This introduced me to the
concept of Jesus as personal savior. As a result of intensive propaganda, I transferred my
membership to Maranatha Baptist Church (ABA), with subsequent re-baptism.
During my senior year, a retreat was held with various missionary speakers. Following the
retreat, we were asked to spend the afternoon in silent prayer, asking the Lord for a "word" as to
where He would like us to serve. I was granted a vision of myself ministering in a church which
had kneelers and a corpus on the cross. Upon informing our student advisor of the vision, I was
told to ignore it, and go into Baptist Bible College. I joined the Army.
In the service, I had a chance to be exposed to different religious traditions. I sang with the
Nazarenes, was knocked out at a Pentecostal rally, and made the acquaintance of the books of
Thomas Merton. Fr. Merton led me into a love of monasticism and the Fathers of the Church.
Unfortunately my Baptist training kept me away from things Catholic.
After serving a tour in Germany and another in Washington State, I left the Army, intent on
following the call of God. I played guitar for an Assembly of God church for a time, before
deciding to return to my roots with the Methodist Church. As a result of a newspaper article
featuring the street ministry of a local church, I went to them and asked to be put to use. They
approved me as a ministerial candidate, set me to teaching Sunday School and playing music for
the Wednesday night services. I started classes in "pre-Theology" at the local community college.
At this time I started dating the woman who was to become my wife. My pastor didn't approve
of her because she was a Roman Catholic, and that would look bad to my future parishioners, and
so he refused to perform the marriage. Other ministers in town refused to perform the marriage
because my pastor had refused. We wound up being married by a justice of the peace.
Shortly after that I was called into the office of Superintendent Ron Houk. There he and Bishop
Judith Craig told me that what I was teaching in my Sunday School Classes (Beginning
Christianity, and Church History) was too Catholic, and I would do well to study more
"Evangelical" theologians rather than the Fathers of the Church. Since I was having doubts as to
the validity of Methodist sacraments, and felt a need to be connected to the "historical" church of
Jesus, I decided it was time to move on. Since my training told me that the Pope was the
Antichrist and the Catholic Church was the Whore of Babylon, I sought out the one Orthodox
Church in town. ROCOR. There I was told that since neither my father nor mother was
Orthodox, I really didn't belong. This didn't sound like the Jesus I knew! I went to the Romans.
It just so happened that that Sunday was their once-yearly Charismatic Mass; I felt right at home.
How was a married man to minister in the Roman Catholic Church? I left that up to God to
reveal, and went through RCIA. Six months after being confirmed (Easter 1989, St. Casimir
Church, Lansing, MI) I lost my job. My wife talked me into moving down to Florida, where I
could work for my brother, who had a painting business. Two months after arriving, he went
bankrupt. Spiritual crisis time.
After losing our mobile home, we were taken in by a local charity and put in one of their
temporary houses. It just so happened that it was down the street from a Catholic Church. After
Mass one Sunday, I found a pamphlet that read "Help Rebuild the Church". To make a long story
short, this led to my becoming a Secular Franciscan. At last! (I thought) I had found a way for a
married man to minister in the Roman Church. I went through a school for Catholic Lay
Evangelists, and prepared to be sent out on mission. Wrong. Only single men got sent out on
mission. OK. I got active in the pro-life movement, recruited similarly minded novices, and
generally upset the "pay, pray, and obey" lifestyle of the local chapter of the SFO. Since there
were no Friars or Nuns in our area, the Diocesan Bishop assigned us a priest to "get us out of the
media." I petitioned the General Council, and received permission to transfer into the Brothers
and Sisters of Charity, a Roman Catholic based Ecumenical Order that was just arising to
prominence in my area.
While in the formation, I encountered several Episcopalian members, who challenged my belief in
several Roman dogmas. Being the bookworm that I am, I researched the matter thoroughly. I
uncovered the scandal of the Pseudo-Isadoran Decretals, and the various abuses which led to the
separation of Rome from the Old Catholics. My wife and I left the Roman Church and started
worshiping at the local Episcopal Church. She felt right at home, and started confirmation
classes. Perhaps because I was sensitive to the abuses I had just fled, I couldn't accept the
ECUSA. After worshiping and studying for awhile with the Pastor of All Saints United Episcopal
Church, he recommended the Old Catholics.
The first Old Catholic body I encountered was the Church of Antioch, Bishop Spruit's church.
They were too gnostic. Then I ran into Bishop Allen Jimenez, who agreed to help me read for
Orders. Yet I found that he was a disciple of Bishop Spong, whose liberal leanings had chased
me away from ECUSA.
At last, a double blessing -- the Benedictine Order, and Orthodoxy. Through acquaintance on an
internet talk group, I investigated the Orthodox Catholic Church in North America. I found
myself in agreement with most of their teachings, and the price of their seminary (free) I found
most refreshing. Yet the slight taste of Benedictine spirituality they offered as one of their canons
left me hungry for more.
It took a massive blow to allow room for more growth. Citing an inability to get along, and an
eagerness to be with her boyfriend, my wife divorced me. Unfortunately, due to physical
problems, I was left without a means to support myself. She agreed to let me stay on until after
my back surgery.
God can make something good out of every evil. My divorce left me free to pursue the monastic
life I had felt drawing me ever since I first read Thomas Merton's works twenty years earlier.
OCCNA was without monasteries, which left me to search for a Benedictine community
elsewhere, or to found a new one. As I had yet to ordained even to sub-deacon, I certainly felt
unworthy to attempt a new founding.
God will reveal the rest of the story as life goes on.