Msgr. Robert Servatius honored for 50 years of priesthood
Friday, May. 30, 2014
Msgr. Robert Servatius (right) was the guest of honor at a dinner celebrating the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination; Bishop John C. Wester was among the speakers. See more photos on the Intermountain Catholic facebook page. IC photo/Marie Mischel
By Marie Mischel
SANDY — On May 23, Monsignor Robert Servatius celebrated his Golden Anniversary of ordination in a fitting manner for a priest: He presided at Mass.
Two days later, his congregation celebrated his 50 years as a priest in a manner befitting the man they call “Msgr. Bob:” a dinner that included roasts by the Most Rev. John C. Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City; Bobbie Hunt, past president of both the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (DCCW) and the National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW); and others. All of them remarked on Msgr. Servatius’ sense of humor.
“You’re known for your humor; again and again we’ve heard your jokes,” Bishop Wester quipped.
In a more solemn vein, the bishop complimented Msgr. Servatius. “It’s very evident that you’re joyful because you love what you’re doing and you love God and you love the people you serve. You’re a true priest, and you’re a great, great human being ... and God has really used you to great effect in our Church, and we’re so grateful.”
Msgr. Servatius, who has been pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish for 28 years, and built the school and a new church there, has served numerous roles throughout the diocese. In addition to serving as moderator of the DCCW for 22 years, he also held that position at the NCCW for several terms.
At the dinner, Hunt recalled various humorous episodes that had occurred over the years at NCCW events, such as at an airport when Msgr. Servatius was called aside for the extra screening, which revealed a hole in his sock. Afterward, he was the recipient of several gifts of socks; Hunt presented him with another pair at the dinner; one of several presents she gave.
In preparing for her speech, Hunt said she asked several NCCW members for their memories of Msgr. Servatius; they were as diverse as the pie and pizza after Saturday night Mass at the retreat house, the Right to Life Vigil Mass, his joyful spirit, his calmness, his compassion, and “your ‘house divided’ talk, when the Holy Spirit was felt in the room,” Hunt said. “You are a wonderful champion for the women of the NCCW and DCCW. … You lifted us up and made us laugh. … You were there when we went through some of the most difficult times. … We are most grateful for your years of service, your caring, your support, your kindness and love. You recognize the work that the women do in the Church. Thank you, thank you, God bless and keep you always in his loving care.”
Roasting Msgr. Servatius is difficult “because what do you say? He’s just the salt of the earth in terms of a good priest,” said Monsignor J. Terrence Fitzgerald, vicar general emeritus, who nonetheless recalled attending Judge Memorial Catholic School and one fall a new student enrolled two years behind him. “He had come from Syracuse, [N.Y.] of course, and he talked funny.”
The new student was the future Msgr. Servatius, who was ordained a priest two years after Msgr. Fitzgerald.
Among the gag gifts that Msgr. Fitzgerald presented to Msgr. Servatius was a puzzle of a helicopter with the characters from Scooby-Doo, which is meant to build character, Msgr. Fitzgerald said, “and if there’s anything Monsignor needs, it’s to be more of a character.”
In congratulating Msgr. Servatius, Msgr. Fitzgerald said, “You have been a faithful friend; a faithful, outstanding priest; you have enriched the lives of all who have known and loved you. God bless you.”
Monsignor Colin F. Bircumshaw, vicar general, recalled that 50 years ago then-Father Servatius was assigned to St. Francis Xavier in Kearns, Msgr. Bircumshaw’s home parish, and “his example and his kindness to me as a very immature and young seminarian gave me a lot of strength to continue on.”
Among the presentations given to Msgr. Servatius at the May 23 dinner was a resolution from the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal of which he has been a member since 1969, and a hand-carved olive wood representation of the Last Supper. In addition, Brian Penn, Blessed Sacrament School principal, announced the Msgr. R. Servatius Endowment Fund for scholarships, which was established in the amount of $10,000. The fund will be a “lasting legacy for all you’ve done and will continue to do,” Penn said.
Opening the card signed by well-wishers, Msgr. Servatius was brought almost to tears by “so many signatures.” Then, seeing at the enclosed check, he said, “Oh, my.” Immediately looking over at Bishop Wester, he asked, to general laughter from the room, “Do I have to tithe?”
During his comments, Msgr. Servatius thanked his family members who were present, as well as his current and former parishioners and others he has worked with throughout his years in the diocese.
“A lot of nice things have been said about me tonight, and I want you to know that it’s like water off a duck’s back, but I have to admit that the old duck likes it,” he said, adding that as he thought of highlights from his years, “if I tried to list them all, we’d just show up next Sunday in time for the Ascension.”
Among those he recalled at the dinner was his ordination by Bishop Joseph L. Federal in the Cathedral of the Madeleine on May 23, 1964, and concelebrating Mass with Pope [now Saint] John Paul II at the Castel Gandolfo in on Sept. 16, 1991.
“It’s been a wonderful 50 years. It hasn’t been without its challenges, but it’s been very fulfilling,” he said.
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