History of Pastors Serving
 Our Lady of the Assumption Parish

The following list of pastors and photographs were compiled from several resources: notes taken by Fr. Louis Kirby from the archival chronicles of the Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon City, Colorado, and research by Ed Stewart of the OLA parish records and miscellaneous historical references. There is some confusion of dates and references of assignments especially during the 1940s to early 1960s that Fr. Louis was unable to clarify. Many of the notations in the Abby's chronicles are no more than stating that a particular priest went to Westcliffe that day. A cross search of the parish’s record books indicates that the parish was served by a variety of priests from the Holy Cross Abbey from 1929 to 1965, several of which were apparently assigned more than once over this period. It appears that the role of pastor was informally assigned by the abbey abbot on a as needed basis. The phrase “briefly” is used in the Notes below to indicate that only two or three references were found that covered a period as short as one to three months.
    If you have additional information or corrections, please contact Ed Stewart at the email address on the homepage.





Fr. William J. Finneran

aka Gulielmus J. Finneran


Franciscus C. Bigelow



Fr. Charles A. Richard

a series of pastors served 1882


Fr. R. I. Fallors



Fr. F. X. Gubitosi



Fr. Carlos M. Ferrari



Fr. M. J. Garmody



Fr. John Burins (sp)



Fr. John J. Riordon



Fr. James Smith



Fr. Michael Culkin



Fr. X. Schulak



Fr. Henry Egler



Fr. A. P. Schucider (sp)



Fr. Robert Servant



Fr. Early

(briefly) as  noted in the Wet Mountain Tribune’s “Peaks of the Past” archive


Fr. Hilary Kaib, OSB

(briefly) first to be noted as being a priest of the Order of St. Benedict


Fr. Joseph H. Brunner



Fr. Edward Berkemeyer

served as pastor of 20 years


Fr. Cyprian Bradley



Fr. Justin McKernan



Fr. P. Edmund Butz, OSB



Fr. Raymond J. Layton, OSB

he would return five years later


Fr. Fabian Heid, OSB

he would return several more times


Fr. Harold M. Glentzer, OSB



Fr. Raymond J. Layton, OSB

returned to serve again


Prior Martin Arno, OSB

(briefly) Abbey chronicle notes probably uncertain to dates and records from 1940 to 1960


Fr. Jerome Healy, OSB



Fr. Fabian Heid, OSB

returned to serve again


Fr. Vincent Peter, OSB



Fr. Paulinus Hammer, OSB

beginning date uncertain


Fr. Claude Roberts, OSB



Fr. Stephen Sustrick, OSB



Fr. Raymond J. Layton, OSB

returned to serve again


Fr. Bernard Gervais, OSB

served several times


Fr. Fabian Heid, OSB

returned to serve again


Fr. Marcus Zabolitzky, OSB

(briefly) most of the abbey’s assignments during the 1950s are undocumented and there are many overlapping dates


Fr. Michael Jankowski, OSB

was assigned “temporarily” as pastor but no ending date found


Abbot Leonard Schwinn, OSB

abbot in charge of OLA parish


Fr. Bernard Gervais, OSB



Fr. William Thompson, OSB



Fr. Anselm Amadio, OSB



Fr. Leo Noll, OSB



Fr. Gerald Walker, OSB



Fr. Bernard Gervais, OSB



Fr. James Mahrer, OSB

longest serving pastor at 31 years


Fr. Louis M. Kirby, OSB

retired to the St. Benedict’s Abbey, a Benedictine abbey in Atchison, KS


Fr. James King

was also pastor of St. Michael's in Cañon City, CO


Fr. Vicente Paz en la Casa

was also pastor of St. Benedict's Parish, Florence, CO


Fr. Nicodemus Urassa

was also pastor of St. Benedict's Parish, Florence, CO


Fr. John Farley

also pastor of St. Benedict's Parish, Florence, CO

Pastor Photos and Stories—

FR. SERVANT, 1893-1906—

Fr. Robert Servant

Robert Servant was born in Lamothe, Haute Lorre, France in 1851, where he attended primary schools and a Christian Brothers' school. In 1870-71, Robert fought for his country in the Franco-Prussian war. He returned to the Academy at the end of the war to finish his studies, and in 1873 graduated from the seminary at Nevers, France and was ordained to the Sub Deaconship.

Robert later became the Auxiliary Professor at the Jesuit College at Mongre, near Lyons. The Rt. Rev. Bishop Machebeuf, pioneer Catholic Bishop of Colorado, had visited the college and persuaded Robert to become a missionary priest. In June of 1881 he and the Bishop sailed for America. Robert was initially sent to St. Mary's Church in Baltimore, then in December of that year on to Denver, Colorado where he was ordained to the priesthood. Fr. Robert Servant was given six counties for his mission territory, using Gunnison as his headquarters until 1884. Later his territory was enlarged and he was transferred to Rio Blanco County. Fr. Servant visited many Indian camps and had much to do with maintaining peace between the Indians and the white men. Those were the days of privations, hardships and suffering, but Fr. Servant had an iron will and an iron constitution and he was able to surmount all difficulties.

Fr. Servant returned to France in 1887 because of the death of his father and did not return to Colorado again until 1890. The Bishop sent Fr. Servant to various places in the frontier. He chose him especially whenever there was a difficult task to complete. He became the Pastor, 1893–1906, for Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Silver Cliff, then again for brief stay at a Mexican Mission in San Luis de la Culebra. From there he was sent to Colorado Springs to become Chaplain of Glockner Sanitarium; in 1906 a Pastor in a thriving mining town called Aspen; in 1911 on to Las Animas. From Las Animas he then moved to Golden where he was to spend the 12 remaining years of his life as Pastor of St. Joseph's Church. At 72 years of age, while recovering from a serious attack of pneumonia, he died in his home from heart failure.

FR. EARLY (no photo available)
1907 – Father Early, the priest who has recently been appointed to this parish by the Rt. Rev Bishop Matz, arrived here Thursday evening and will celebrate Mass at the Catholic Church tomorrow. We have met the Rev. Father and feel justified in saying that he will prove eminently satisfactory to the members of this parish.   –Wet Mountain Tribune, August 16, 2007: Peaks of the Past. The first pastor to be stationed in Westcliffe for any length of time was Fr. Servant.

FR. BERKEMEYER, 1909-29—

Fr. Berkemeyer


Fr. Layton and Fr. Heid

FR. RAYMOND LAYTON, O.S.B., 1931-33, 1938-40, & 1948-50

  • 1932 or 33 the first 3 blue spruce trees were planted by John Knuth and Casper Keinrick, taken from the nearby forest

  • Fr. Layton was pastor of St. Michael's in Canon City from 1946-59

  • Fr. Layton's picture is in St. Michael's Church book. Fr. Layton became Pastor of St. Michael's Church
      in Canon City on March 7, 1946


FR. PAULINIS HAMMER, O.S.B., 1946-1949

  • Back altar (first altar)

  • 1940 —  Anti-Pendium inserted into the original back altar. In 1940, Thomas Hugg painted 4 different subjects
     on a rectangle canvas, in oil, to represent the different Liturgical Seasons:
    #1  White - Wheat & Grapes represents Bread & Wine-Christmas & Easter Season
    #2  Green - Two Doves represents the Ordinary Times
    #3  Red - Represents the Feast of the Martyrs.
    #4  Purple - Angus Dei represents Advent and Lent

*Grandson, Rusty Christensen, 783-2616, of Silver Cliff has #'s 2, 3, and 4.

FR. MAURUS ZABOLITSKY, O.S.B., 1951-1952 (no photo available)

The monks of the Holy Cross Abbey in Canon City were the caretakers of Our Lady of the Assumption church. For years, they came to Westcliffe on weekends to tend to the Catholics in Westcliffe. Fr. Zabolitsky, appointed pastor in 1951, was the first resident priest in the parish.

Fr. Susrick, Fr. Gravis, Fr. Jankowski

FR. GERALD WALKER, O.S.B., 1961-1963

  • 1950 — Original pump organ

  • 1961 – candelabras. Donated by Mr. & Mrs. Lee Jones

  • 1961 —  Wooden square tall candlesticks (made by Bro. Michael), Sanctuary lamps and a matching Baptismal Font.
        In memory of  Frank A. Diener – May 25, 1960. These were a $600 gift through the estate of Frank A. Diener
        by Mrs. Anna Falkenberg, his sister.

  • 1962 —  Baldwin Fantasia electric #2 organ, paid for by the donations of the Altar & Rosary Society and about $2-300,
         donated by Frank Deiner.

FR. BERNARD GERVAIS (Ger-va) 1963-1965

  • 1964 — pews, mobile Tabernacle, 35 Statues: St T, Sacred Heart, BVM, St Joseph [presently painted white] St Benedict

  • 1964 — back altar cloth, white scalloped

  • 1965 — Pyramid leg altar (first front altar) bought from `monks: [Robert DeGree] lectern, and communion rail
         (used only 1 year) made by Fr. Bernard. All new furnishings oak & the paneled Sanctuary wall with mahogany.

  • 1965 — votive candle stand

  • 1965 — mobile Tabernacle

  • 1965 — second set Stations of the Cross (Fr. James gave the entire first set to Maureen & Michael Fink in 1965)

Rt Rv Schwinn, Fr. Thompson, Fr. Walker


Fr. Richard Peter, O.S.B.

  • Fr. Richard Peter assisted his father and brother in constructing the pews we still use in the church (2010), in the early 1940’s.
    He is the brother of Fr. Vincent who served up here (mid-1940s). —Zita & John Milder, who also provided the yearbook photos.


FR. MAHRER 1965-1997—

Fr. James Mahrer

Fr. Mahrer bottle collection
To read a the transcript of a taped interview with Fr. Mahrer, click here.

FR. KIRBY 1997-2004 and FR. KING 2004-2005—

Fr. King & Fr. Kirby


Fr. Vicente Paz en la Casa

FR. GIELOW, missions during the 1990s to 2011—

Fr. Gielow
Fr. Nicodemus Urassa


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