Father Bernard Reiser, the founding pastor of the Church of the Epiphany in Coon Rapids who served there from 1964 to 2001, died Dec. 27. He was 86.
Father Reiser’s vision for Epiphany parish was to create a campus that served people from birth to death. During his pastorate, the parish built an elementary school, perpetual adoration chapel, several outdoor shrines, a senior housing building and an assisted living facility, where he lived after his retirement from full-time ministry as a priest.
Father Reiser was also the author of “Reiser’s Ramblings,” which helps support the charity he founded — Reiser Relief Inc. — to serve the people of Haiti.
Deb Pafko, whose son, Matthew, spent the last days of his 16 years helping to raise money for Sharing and Caring Hands in Minneapolis, said that “everyone loved Father Reiser,” especially the Pafko family.
“He came to our house every week, Thursday at 4:15, for two years, through every weather, through every holiday. He came down to the hospital for Matthew,” who died July 20, 2009, from spine and brain cancer, Pafko said. Just weeks before his death, Father Reiser also had surgery to address a rapidly growing cancer in his brain, which Pafko said was another connection between her son and former pastor.
Father Reiser was born in Medina in 1924. He was ordained a priest June 4, 1949, and served in White Bear Lake, before being named pastor of the new Coon Rapids parish.
A 24-hour vigil/wake service and reviewal will begin at 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 30, at Epiphany Church, 1900 111th Ave. N.W., with vigil prayers at 7 p.m.
The funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 31 in the main church. There will be overflow seating in the gym and cafeteria with media feeds of the service.
Do you have a favorite memory of Father Reiser? If so, please share it in the comments section, below.