Pastor Photos and Stories—
FR. SERVANT, 1893-1906—
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. LAYTON , FR. HAMMER, 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
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
Canon City on March 7, 1946
FR. FABIAN HEID 1941-43
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
#3 Red - Represents the Feast of the
#4 Purple - Angus Dei represents Advent
*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. GERALD WALKER, O.S.B., 1961-1963
1950 — Original pump organ
1961 – candelabras. Donated by Mr. & Mrs.
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)
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—
To read a the transcript of a taped interview with Fr. Mahrer, click here.
FR. KIRBY 1997-2004 and FR. KING 2004-2005—
FR. VICENTE PAZ EN LA CASA 2005-2012—
FR. GIELOW, missions during the 1990s to 2011—