SALT LAKE CITY — Monsignor Robert R. Servatius, who served as a diocesan priest for 52 years, was recalled as a kind-hearted, witty priest who “never left his flock,” even taking them on vacation to pilgrimages all over the world, during the Mass of Christian Burial celebrated Aug. 24.
He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Salt Lake City in 1964 and served in various ministries until his retirement last year. For the past 30 years he was pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish.
At the funeral Mass, Bishop Oscar A. Solis said that the family, friends and the whole presbyterate of the Diocese of Salt Lake City gathered “in grief and sadness, but filled with faith and hope in God’s promise of eternal life.” The bishop asked that the Lord remember all Msgr. Servatius’ good works, to forgive any stain of failing and accept “our brother Robert into his redeeming presence with all the saints in the company of heaven.”
The Mass was concelebrated by Msgr. Colin F. Bircumshaw, vicar general; Msgr. J. Terrence Fitzgerald, vicar general emeritus; and many priests of the diocese.
Among the many who attended the funeral liturgy were students from grades second through eighth at Blessed Sacrament School, which Msgr. Servatius founded.
“Those are the kids who knew him fairly well,” said Principal Bryan Penn. “The kids just loved him. He used to do Mondays with Monsignor – he’d come in every Monday and visit a class, answer questions. … He was just so special to the school.”
Attending the funeral Mass allowed the children to “hear how important Monsignor was, and … be able to say goodbye to him, which was important to them,” Penn said.
Father Sam Dinsdale, who delivered the homily at the funeral Mass, said he first met Msgr. Servatius 43 years ago at St. James the Just Parish.
“Although it was a life-changing event for me, I don’t remember it. I was just another fat, ugly baby seeking the Sacrament of Baptism,” he said, as the congregation laughed. A photo of that day shows Msgr. Servatius with “groovy sideburns and the same expression he carried throughout his life that made him an approachable and welcomed pastor,” Fr. Dinsdale said.
Msgr. Servatius “was a kind and witty man, even during those difficult times as a pastor,” Fr. Dinsdale said, adding that the older priest “had a true pastor’s heart. He never left his flock, even when he was on vacation. He took them with him. He always had a large number of people waiting to go (with him) to pilgrimage sites all over the world. … Msgr. Bob was known as a very fun traveling companion.”
Msgr. Servatius also travelled to meetings of the National Council of Catholic Women, for which he served as spiritual advisor. Bobbie Hunt, a St. Rose of Lima parishioner and a past president of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women and National Council of Catholic Women, said Msgr. Servatius “was always the voice of calm” during executive board meetings.
He was also known for his jokes, gave beautiful homilies at the NCCW Masses, and “was a pure joy,” Hunt said, adding that she cried when she received word of his death, and when she sent an email about Msgr. Servatius’ death to NCCW members, “I got just beautiful, spiritual things sent back about him. … He’s going to be missed.”
Like Hunt, Sharon Jackson, who worked with Msgr. Servatius at Blessed Sacrament Parish for almost 30 years, first as the director of education and then as pastoral associate, recalled Msgr. Servatius’ calm demeanor, and described him as wise.
“He could take any situation” that was tense and defuse it, she said. “He was just kind of a wonderworker that way.”