Fr. Michael Sciumbato: ‘A simple and gentle soul who loved God and served his people the best he could’

Friday, May. 10, 2024
Fr. Michael Sciumbato: ‘A simple and gentle soul who loved God and served his people the best he could’ + Enlarge
Mourners at the May 6 vigil for Father Michael Sciumbato pass by a memorial table at St. Ambrose Catholic Church.
By Marie Mischel
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY — Father Michael R. Sciumbato, who died on April 27 at the age of 69 due to complications from diabetes, was recalled during funeral services as dedicated priest who loved the poor.

At the May 6 vigil, Father Erik Richtsteig, pastor of Saint Ambrose Parish, said his seminary classmate was a person who had a good sense of humor, musical ability, “and most especially his love for those who were in need. These are all gifts that God gave to him.”

God also called Fr. Sciumbato to the priesthood, Fr. Richtsteig said. “That is a gift that God gave Mike and through him to all of us, because when we receive a gift from God, we never keep it to ourselves, we have to let to go through us into the world.”

At the vigil, Fr. Sciumbato’s sister Linda Tsoufakis recalled him as “a selfless individual who was focused on serving, improving and enriching his community.”

For example, she said, Fr. Sciumbato combined his spiritual gifts with his legal expertise to provide “much needed legal immigration services to anyone who asked him.”

In addition to administering the sacraments, he organized many fundraisers for his parish communities, she said.

“Of course, Fr. Mike didn’t do these activities alone,” Tsoufakis said. “His enthusiasm for these projects was infectious. He always managed to get people to join him and support the cause with their time, talent and treasure.”

Also at the vigil, Fr. Sciumbato’s cousin, Rose Graham, spoke of him as “the son, the brother, the uncle, the cousin, the friend, the man. … He made sure people were honored, and he touched countless lives. This is how he should be remembered.”    

In his comments at the vigil, Bishop Oscar A. Solis extended sympathy to the family on behalf of his fellow clergy and the people of God in the diocese. “Thank you for sharing your brother with the community with the community of the people of God in the entire Diocese of Salt Lake City,” he said. “No word from us could express our gratitude for the long, dedicated service that Fr. Michael Sciumbato had rendered to the people of God here in Utah.”

As a partner in evangelization, Fr. Sciumbato was a faithful, dedicated servant in the service of God, and asked for nothing except to serve, the bishop said.

At the funeral Mass the next day, Bishop Solis recalled Fr. Sciumbato’s work in the diocese, adding, “Even in his retirement, he never lost sight of bringing people close to the Lord, and doing God’s work in any way he could. Fr. Mike made the Gospel come alive in words and deeds, proclaiming the Good News of God’s blessing and beatitudes. He brought consolation to the meek, comfort to the poor, to those who mourn and to those who are persecuted. In his unique way, Fr. Mike incorporated his knowledge of jurisprudence with his priestly ministry in the parishes where he was assigned. Everybody knows he had a big heart for the poor, especially the undocumented, helping them acquire [legal] immigration status. … Fr. Mike will be remembered as … a simple and gentle soul who loved God and served his people the best he could.”  

A native of Salt Lake City, Fr. Sciumbato was born Nov. 28, 1955. He attended Creighton University for one year before completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah, earning a Bachelor of Science in journalism and communications. He then entered law school, earning a Juris Doctorate degree from the U’s S. J. Quinney College of Law.

After working as an attorney in private practice for eight years, he entered Mount Angel Seminary, earning a Master of Divinity in 1994. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Salt Lake City on June 25, 1994, by the Most Reverend William K. Weigand, seventh Bishop of Salt Lake City.

During the next 28 years, Fr. Sciumbato held many pastoral assignments in the diocese. His first was as parochial vicar at Saint Rose of Lima Parish in Layton while also teaching at St. Joseph Catholic High School. In 1996 he became pastoral administrator of Saint Elizabeth Parish in Richfield, then was assigned as pastor of Notre Dame de Lourdes Parish in Price. Subsequently he was pastor of Saint James the Just Parish, Ogden, then as pastor of Saint Francis of Assisi Parish, Orem. He served as chaplain for the Salt Lake Hospitals from 2007 to 2008 before becoming pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Salt Lake City. In 2017 he became pastor of Saint Ann Parish and Kearns-Saint Ann School. His final pastoral assignment was as pastor of Saint Joseph Parish, Ogden and Saint Florence Mission, Huntsville.

Fr. Sciumbato was granted early retirement on July 28, 2021 for health issues and had been in residence in Salt Lake City since his retirement.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Rosario and Angelina Mirabelli Sciumbato. He is survived by his brother, James (Laura); his sister, Linda Tsoufakis (Jim); and many cousins, nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated May 7 at St. Ambrose Catholic Church. Committal followed at Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery.

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