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Rev. Robert Henry Riel

Deceased: 2012-12-29


ICTE Fall: 1994

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Reverend Robert H. Riel, 1941-2012. SPRINGFIELD Reverend Robert H. Riel, 71, the retired Pastor of the former Saint George Church in Chicopee Falls was Called Safely Home on Thursday evening, December 27, 2012. He passed into Eternal Life at Heritage Hall West in Agawam surrounded by the care and comfort of his loving family. He was born in Springfield on June 11, 1941, a beloved son of the late Henry Riel, Jr. and Yvette Eva (Martin) Riel. He was raised in Springfield and was a communicant of the former Saint Joseph Church. He graduated from the former Saint Joseph Elementary School and the former Springfield Technical High School. He began working at Technicolor in Springfield and later majored in Business at Andover Institute of Business, American International College in Springfield and Westfield State College. During the Vietnam War, he served his country at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield. His strong Catholic faith prepared him for the Priesthood at the Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in 1976. He furthered his studies at Mount Saint Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He served as a Transitional Deacon at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Chicopee before his Ordination to the Priesthood on May 24, 1980 by the Most Reverend Joseph F. Maguire, then Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, at Saint Michael’s Cathedral in Springfield. Upon his Ordination, he served for a time as Chaplain at Mercy Hospital in Springfield and as Parochial Vicar at Sainte Rose de Lima Church in Chicopee until 1987. He was then assigned to Holy Cross Church in Springfield as Parochial Vicar until 1990. Father Riel was named Pastor of the former Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Ware in 1990 and, in 1993, was named Pastor of the former Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Chicopee. In 2002, he was named Pastor of the former Saint George Church in Chicopee Falls where he served until the closure of the Parish in 2010. Although Father Riel officially retired following the closure of the Parish, he served as the Diocesan Liaison to the Knights of Columbus in the Diocese of Springfield. He also served as Chaplain of Archbishop Williams Assembly of the Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus. Father Riel loved photography and was an avid photographer who was often seen taking photographs at many diocesan events. For the past two years, he served as a photographer for Catholic Communications providing photographs for The Catholic Mirror magazine and other communication tools offered by the diocesan ministries, including iobserve. He leaves his loving sister, Elaine Riel Bloniasz and his cherished nephew and niece, Justin Bloniasz and Julie Bloniasz, all of Springfield; his loving aunts, Lorraine Martin of Springfield and Rose Lee Martin of Pennsylvania; and his dear cousins, Richard and Virginia Gilsinger and family of Springfield, Thomas and Ann Martin and family, Timothy and Mary Lavigne and family, Richard and Theresa MacGregor and family, and Richard and Pamela Weston and family, all of Vermont, Christopher Martin of Pennsylvania and Valerie Odrechowski of Vermont. Father Riel will Lie in State at Holy Cross Church, 219 Plumtree Road, Springfield, MA 01118 on Wednesday, January 2, 2013 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. followed by a Prayer Vigil Service at 7 p.m. A Pontifical Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by the Most Reverend Timothy A. McDonnell, Bishop of Springfield, at Holy Cross Church in Springfield on Thursday morning, January 3, 2013 at 10 a.m. His burial will follow the Mass at Saint Aloysius Cemetery, 1273 Berkshire Avenue, Indian Orchard, MA 01151. His funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the St. Pierre Phaneuf Springfield Chapels, (413-737-1177), 7 Chapin Terrace, Springfield, MA 01107. His family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made in his memory to Catholic Communications Corporation, PO Box 1730, Springfield, MA 01102-1730.