Spiritual Profile

Born November 2, 1961

Mother: E. Maxine (Rich) Retzloff, confirmed Methodist

Father: Lenard Edgar Edwin Retzloff, follower of Edgar Cayce, baptised Missionary Baptist on deathbed.

Baptised Joel Evan Retzloff at Seymour Street Methodist Episcopal Church, Lansing, MI February 1963

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.