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of the Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon City, Colorado, and research by Ed Stewart of the OLA parish records and miscellaneous historical references.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.
 

Dates:

Pastor:

Notes:

1880–1882

Fr. William J. Finneran

aka Gulielmus J. Finneran

 

Franciscus C. Bigelow

(briefly)

1882–

Fr. Charles A. Richard

a series of pastors served 1882

 

Fr. R. I. Fallors

(briefly)

 

Fr. F. X. Gubitosi

(briefly)

1882–1883

Fr. Carlos M. Ferrari

 

1883–1884

Fr. M. J. Garmody

 

 

Fr. John Burins (sp)

(briefly)

1883–1884

Fr. John J. Riordon

 

1884–1886

Fr. James Smith

 

1886–1888

Fr. Michael Culkin

 

 

Fr. X. Schulak

(briefly)

1888–1892

Fr. Henry Egler

 

 

Fr. A. P. Schucider (sp)

(briefly)

1893–1906

Fr. Robert Servant

 

1906–1907

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

1907–1909

Fr. Joseph H. Brunner

 

1909–1929

Fr. Edward Berkemeyer

served as pastor of 20 years

1929–

Fr. Cyprian Bradley

(briefly)

1929–

Fr. Justin McKernan

(briefly)

1930–

Fr. P. Edmund Butz, OSB

(briefly)

1931–1933

Fr. Raymond J. Layton, OSB

he would return five years later

1933–1937

Fr. Fabian Heid, OSB

he would return several more times

1937–1938

Fr. Harold M. Glentzer, OSB

 

1938–1940

Fr. Raymond J. Layton, OSB

returned to serve again

1940–

Prior Martin Arno, OSB

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

1940–

Fr. Jerome Healy, OSB

(briefly)

1941–1943

Fr. Fabian Heid, OSB

returned to serve again

1943–1947

Fr. Vincent Peter, OSB

 

1946–1949

Fr. Paulinus Hammer, OSB

beginning date uncertain

1946–

Fr. Claude Roberts, OSB

 

1948–

Fr. Stephen Sustrick, OSB

(briefly)

1948–1950

Fr. Raymond J. Layton, OSB

returned to serve again

1949–

Fr. Bernard Gervais, OSB

served several times

1949–1956

Fr. Fabian Heid, OSB

returned to serve again

1951–1952

Fr. Marcus Zabolitzky, OSB

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

1952–1955

Fr. Michael Jankowski, OSB

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

1954–1961

Abbot Leonard Schwinn, OSB

abbot in charge of OLA parish

1956–1957

Fr. Bernard Gervais, OSB

(briefly)

1953–1958

Fr. William Thompson, OSB

(briefly)

1959–

Fr. Anselm Amadio, OSB

(briefly)

1959–

Fr. Leo Noll, OSB

 

1960–1961

Fr. Gerald Walker, OSB

 

1963–1965

Fr. Bernard Gervais, OSB

 

1965–1997

Fr. James Mahrer, OSB

longest serving pastor at 31 years

1997–2004

Fr. Louis M. Kirby, OSB

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

2004–2005

Fr. James King

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

2005–2012

Fr. Vicente Paz en la Casa

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

2012–present

Fr. Nicodemus Urassa

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

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 , FR. HAMMER, and FR. HEID—

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. 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 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 Catholic’s 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

frpeter

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 2005-2012—

Fr. Vicente Paz en la Casa

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

Fr. Gielow
Fr. Nicodemus Urassa

Return to History Page