Fr. Joe Rascher was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest on June 6, 1981 for the Diocese of Belleville in Illinois. He arrived in Trenton, Illinois assigned by his bishop Edward K. Braxton, as pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church on July 13, 2011. Previously, he was pastor of St. Stephen Catholic Church in Caseyville, IL from July 14, 1998 till his assignment to St. Mary in Trenton after having served several other parishes of the diocese as parochial vicar, administrator and pastor.
He was born in 1955 in Breese, IL and baptized at St. Dominic Church, his home parish until his ordination. He attended grade and high school in his hometown. In 1977 he earned a B.A. in Sociology from Quincy University, Quincy, IL. After college Fr. Joe received his seminary training at St. Meinrad School of Theology, St. Meinrad, IN where he earned a Masters of Divinity degree in 1981.
Even at a young age, he was drawn to the liturgy of the church. He has memories of the first tentative changes in the Mass from Latin to English and recalls being fascinated by the liturgies of the Triduum, even in grade school. This interest in liturgy was nurtured by pastors, teachers and priest faculty members at his high school (including one future bishop). The future Fr. Joe concentrated on the study of liturgy in his seminary training. He has remained passionate about the study, teaching and celebration of good liturgy throughout his priesthood. His talent in this area has been recognized by bishops of the diocese and by the Office of Worship of the Diocese, both having asked him on many occasions to serve on various liturgical committees in the diocese and to assist in presenting workshops throughout the local church. His goal as a priest is to enable the full, conscious and active participation of all members of the Body of Christ in the sacred liturgy of the Church. Singing much of the liturgy is normative for him.
Besides preaching, Fr. Joe gets excited about the RCIA, preaching and scripture. Teaching about liturgy and celebrating it, preaching and “breaking open the scriptures,” the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and the pastoral care of his parishioners is the life blood of his priesthood. What is not one of the things that gives him life as a priest is all the meetings a pastor finds himself attending! Yet, he realizes that without meetings, the mission of the church would not be accomplished as effectively. Administrative duties and organization of his office, as he often reminds his advisory councils, is not one of his strong suits and he is grateful for the other members of the parish staff who do possess these gifts of the Spirit.
When Fr. Joe isn’t doing his priest thing, he enjoys cooking, reading, discovering what else his computers can do and what is out there on the world-wide web. While not gifted in the realm of athletic talent, he does cheer on the St. Louis Cardinals baseball and St. Louis Blues hockey teams. Father Joe does not like winter and snow (ask his parishioners) and enjoys vacations during the winter in warm places when he can afford them. Summer (in spite of the humidity in the Mississippi River Valley in the St. Louis area) is his favorite season. Palm Springs has become a favorite destination, and Joe doesn’t even play golf!