At the heart of the Church is a community of people who are welcoming, and ultimately want to bring others closer to Christ. That’s Dr. Nick Reinagel’s philosophy, and one in which he sees young adults as having a central role.
The 28-year-old dentist is discerning a vocation to the priesthood as a resident of Kolbe House. But in the meantime, he’s been using his gift for connecting people in helping to start several Catholic young adult groups in the area.
Inspired by a similar group in Kansas City, where he attended dental school, Reinagel started Catholic STL Running as a way to build community, specifically among young adults who have a love for the Lord. The group meets every Saturday from April until November, participating in Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, followed by a run in Forest Park and then a meal together. “We’re not there to see who’s the quickest person, we’re there to build community,” he said. Another athletics-focused group, Frassati Sports, which started this year, offers recreational sports such as dodge ball and sand volleyball as a means to connect young adults through a casual environment, with the purpose of drawing them closer to Christ, through building relationships.
Reinagel also was part of a team that started Via, an archdiocesan-wide young adult ministry based at Incarnate Word Parish in Chesterfield. The group draws in young adult professionals for praise and worship, followed by a short talk, and then more praise and worship music and fellowship. Nick worked with Bobby Hofman and Maggie Bowman in setting forth the group’s mission. “We said we wanted to present a good ministry, something that is done well,” he said. “We don’t want something that was just thrown together. This is creating a space for young adults. It’s another way for people to come into community and grow closer to Christ through praise and worship.”
You’ve been involved in forming several young adult ministry groups in the archdiocese. Why have you invested time and energy in this?
I think the Lord calls us to take part in what we’re passionate about. I’m very passionate about young adults. I feel like we are that “in between” section of the population. We’re not married yet, we’re out of college for the most part, so this is trying to fill in that gap. I’m also a young adult, so I am always looking for different ways to connect with people — not only for myself, but mainly for others. I have time to do it and I love bringing others closer to Christ.
How does your faith influence your life, personally and professionally?
I started getting into my faith in dental school. I was going to church on Sundays but was never really on fire for the faith, until the end of dental school. I started going to daily Mass, and it finally clicked about the True Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. I increased my prayer life. I now surround my day around Mass and my prayer life.
As a dentist, I wanted to choose something where I could help people. That’s what the Lord calls us to do, to help others. I work at a federally qualified community health center; I treat a lot of low income patients, patients who are on Medicaid. I have to remind myself a lot that I must love everyone, even when people don’t want to see me. It makes you reflect on why am I doing this — to help others and to be an example of what it means to be a follower of Christ — through my actions, through my words.
Tell me about your vocational discernment. What drew you to Kolbe House?
I started discerning when I moved to St. Louis. I had this feeling that maybe the Lord is calling me into the seminary. I spoke to Father (Brian) Fallon in winter of 2017 and told him about where I am in my life and where the Lord is moving in me, and he told me about Kolbe House. It provides me a way to develop my prayer life more and figure out what is the will of the Lord in my life. I’ve also been on several discernment retreats at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. I’ve found this passion for service. I know the Lord is calling me to some sort of service, and He keeps putting this urge in my heart to pursue the priesthood. I need to follow what He’s telling me.
How can young adults become involved in the life of the Church?
I am all about young adults stepping up in whatever capacity they can. I feel that they have a lot of gifts and talents they can use. I heard a talk by Denny Handley (media specialist with the Catholic Youth Apostolate) at Theology on Tap about your passion. He spoke about using your gifts, your talents to serve the Church. If you’re passionate about music, if you’re passionate about art, if you’re passionate about social media — use that to better the Church. I think they need that nudge to do that. They think that older adults, that’s their role. But Pope Francis told young adults, you’re not the future Church, you’re the present Church. We need you now. That’s increased my vocational discernment, seeing younger adults taking part in the Church, seeing people who truly love the Lord. It’s about being bold, getting out of your comfort zone.
On the flip side, what can the Church do better in being welcoming to young adults?
I think the Church shouldn’t assume that we don’t want to help. There are lots of young adults that want to but they don’t know where. It’s good to start something new and if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. Young adults just want people to invest time in them. They want someone to say ‘hi’ to them. As Dan Huss (director of youth ministry at Incarnate Word) told me, ‘We don’t want people who know the Bible from front to back, we want people to help out who just want to love people, who want to know someone’s name and make them feel welcome.’”
Dr. Nick Reinagel
Parish: Incarnate Word, Chesterfield
Education: bachelor’s degree in cell and mollecular biology, Missouri State University; doctorate in dentistry, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Family: Parents, Ron and Lori Reinagel of Kelso, Mo.; Nick is a triplet, with siblings Erika and Matt; also has two older siblings, Ashley and Adam
What are you reading right now: “Time for God,” By Jacques Philippe. “There’s a universal call to holiness, along with a call to prayer,” Nick said. “Prayer life is tough. It’s the most important when it’s hard to pray. We should concentrate on a consistency in prayer.”