SANDY – Born in New York, Monsignor Robert Raymond Servatius moved to Utah in 1949, when he was 11 years old. His life would never be the same.
"We lived in Syracuse, New York and in that part of the country Catholics were not a minority," unlike his new home, said Msgr. Servatius. However, it was in Utah that the encounters he had with the religious women and priests impacted his life to the point that he decided he wanted to become a priest.
"The nuns, the priests at Judge Memorial and in my parish impressed me so much in the way that they were ministering people that I start thinking, ‘Gee, I may want to become one of them,’" Msgr. Servatius said.
He went to talk to the late Most Rev. Duane G. Hunt, the Bishop of Salt Lake City at the time, who told him that, if at the end of high school he still felt that vocation, they would talk about him going to a seminary.
"To make the long story short, I graduated from Judge Memorial High School in 1956 and in September of that year I was on my way to California for my studies into priesthood," said Msgr. Servatius, who was ordained on May 23, 1964 at the Cathedral of the Madeleine by the late Bishop Joseph Lennox Federal.
Fifty years have passed since that day, and Msgr. Servatius keeps ministering with the same joy and enthusiasm that he felt the first time he officiated at Mass. Through the years he has served in a variety of positions in the Diocese of Salt Lake: pastor at several parishes and missions, teacher at Judge Memorial, editor of the Intermountain Catholic, chaplain at the Newman Center, director of the Diocesan Development Drive, director of the diocese’s Family Life office, dean of the Wasatch Deanery, chairman of the Lay Ministry Advisory Office, diocesan Consultor; Defender of the Bond at the Tribunal, and spiritual advisor for the Diocesan Counsel of Catholic Women, holding the same position for the national organization as well.
Elevated to Prelate of Honor in 1994 and invested into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in 2001, Msgr. Servatius has been the pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish for the past 28 years.
Sharon Jackson, the parish’s pastoral associate, has known him for much of that time.
"I respect him not only because he is a priest and I respect priests … [but] it is just how he balances his pastoral care and also his administrative care of the parish. There is a lot of wisdom there," she said, adding that most of all she has learned "from his love of the parish. He just really loves the parish."
Msgr. Servatius expressed that two of his favorite ministries have been working with the DCCW for 24 years and his ministry at Blessed Sacrament Parish; he oversaw the building of the parish’s school as well as the new church.
"He has done all this without micromanaging," Jackson said. "He is always there for advice. … He does the same with the staff – although he oversees the school he doesn’t micromanage the school at all and I think all the principals appreciate that. More than anything we are just so very grateful for his vocation and his continued work. We want to say ‘Happy Anniversary’ by just saying how grateful for all his years of continued dedication to his vocation."
To celebrate Msgr. Servatius’ Golden Jubilee, several events are scheduled; all are open to the public. On May 23 at 7 p.m. Mass will be celebrated at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, followed by a reception. On May 25 there will be a celebration dinner at the Hilton Garden Inn in Sandy. Tickets for the dinner are $30 each. For information or tickets, contact Sharon Jackson, 801-571-2071 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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