Church of the Holy Trinity getting new rector

Published 4:00 am Sunday, March 5, 2023

The Church of the Holy Trinity has selected a new rector-elect.

The Rev. Rick Roessler, who presently serves as rector of the Church of the Cross in Ticonderoga, N.Y., will have his first service as Holy Trinity’s rector on April 16. He replaces the Rev. Andy Andrews, who resigned in June after serving three years as Holy Trinity’s rector. Holy Trinity is Roessler’s second church.

“I’m heading from one famous military town to another; from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War,” he said.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

A native of Vermont, Roessler is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, who served in the military for about 33 years before retiring and attending seminary in Wisconsin.

“I’ve served in three of the four or five military services,” he said. “I started off in the Naval Reserve as a supply guy — enlisted — and then I switched to the Army (National) Guard, where I was a field artillery officer for nine years.”

He later joined the Air Force, serving as a medical service corps officer, working as a hospital administrator for more than 20 years and was assigned at one time to Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, La.

It was during his time in the Air Force that he received the call to enter the ministry.

“I was riding my bicycle on leave, I think about a month or so after I had found out that I was on the list for colonel,” Roessler said.

“I was praying and asking God to help me to lead airmen in this new position as a senior leader,” he added. “And from out of the woods I heard a voice that said, ‘I don’t want you to lead airmen; I want you to lead my people.’ I got off my bicycle to try to investigate what that voice was. God then said to me that He wanted me to become a priest.”

The voice, Roessler said, reminded him of someone who told him 25 years earlier that he was supposed to become a priest.

“At the time I had laughed at the individual,” he said.

“I started to discern a call into the priesthood while I was serving in Afghanistan,” he said. “I was discerning that call and unfortunately, this was a bad day; an Afghanistan bad day. I was praying, asking God to just show me definitively that I was not supposed to be a priest.”

The next day at breakfast, Roessler said, two people approached him from behind, asking him, “Chaplain, where is your cross?”

“I was not a chaplain, but I kind of knew what that message meant,” he said. “I looked at them; I said, ‘I don’t know if you know what you just said to me, but I know what you just said to me, and I need to step outside for a minute.

“I stepped outside and started praying from that point on that I would fulfill God’s purpose for me and become a priest.”

He went into the seminary, was ordained and went to his first church in Ticonderoga.

“And now I am coming to Vicksburg to assume a more full-time role at a little bit larger church,” he said.

One of the reasons for his interest in coming to Vicksburg, Roessler said, is his daughter, who lives with her husband in Monroe, La.,

“As we made our way down that way to visit them, we realized that almost all of our bases in the 20 years that we were in the Air Force were south of the Mason-Dixon line and that our hearts really were down in the South and decided that’s where we really were called to be.”

Roessler said he approached the diocese of Mississippi with his interest in serving as a rector at a church in Mississippi.

“We put our name into the hat to come on down there,” he said. “We had seen that they were looking for a rector, I think it was like in July or so.”

He and his wife, Roessler said, learned about the Church of the Holy Trinity through the Internet.

“We kind of watched them on the Internet and every place that we had gone to interview at, we kind of were evaluating against what we saw on the Internet of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Vicksburg,” he said. “Eventually, the church at Vicksburg was ready to start looking at candidates and we expressed our interest in being placed on that list.

“We had a chance to interview with them and we just really enjoyed the Zoom interview that we had,” he added. “We probably talked for, I think about two hours, and it felt like a half hour, it just seemed as though we were talking to old friends so it was wonderful.”

Roessler said his first service is the first Sunday after Easter, which is called Low Sunday. The tradition at the Church of the Holy Trinity is to hold the Low Sunday service outdoors.

“And so we, Lord willing, will be celebrating our first Eucharist with them outside,” he said.

“Yesterday, I was using a little snow blower to blow snow from my driveway,” he said Wednesday. “I’m looking forward to selling that thing and not having to use it again.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

email author More by John