Jesuits' ministry in Utah comes to an end with the departure of Fr. Reuse
Friday, Jun. 26, 2020
Intermountain Catholic file photo
Father Martin Rock, who was pastor of Saint Mary Catholic Church in West Haven from 1993 to 2010, was the last Jesuit pastor of the parish, is shown celebrating a children's Mass prior to his retirement party.
With the retirement and departure of Father Patrick Reuse, S.J., the Diocese of Salt Lake City is saying farewell to the last of the Jesuit priests who have ministered here.
The Jesuits first came to Utah in 1952 at the invitation of Bishop Duane G. Hunt to take over the administration of St. Henry Parish in Brigham City.
Each week, the priests offered two Masses at St. Henry’s, two at the Intermountain Indian School in Brigham City, and a fifth at Little Valley near Lucin, according to “Salt of the Earth: the History of the Catholic Church in Utah, 1776-2007.”
Among the Jesuits who ministered to St. Henry Parish was Fr. Warren Schoeppe, S.J., who was pastor from 1986 to 2008. In 1989, Fr. Schoeppe, “with funds from the diocese and the Catholic Church Extension Society, oversaw the building of the Tremonton Santa Ana Mission center that provided sacred space for Mass, a small kitchen, and a social hall, as well as three small classrooms for religious education,” ministering to about 100 families, according to “Salt of the Earth.”
The Tremonton church was expanded in 2007.
In addition, St. Mary Parish (originally in Ogden, but relocated to West Haven in 2008) was run by Jesuit priests until 2010. Fr. Louis Kern, S.J. was the founding pastor of St. Mary’s. He served from 1957 to 1974, and was followed by Fr. Neale Herrlich, S.J, who was pastor from 1974 to 1992. The last Jesuit pastor of the parish was Fr. Martin Rock, S.J., who was reassigned in 2010.
The diocese also was home to two Jesuits who “retired” to Utah after teaching careers: Fr. Joseph S. Rooney, S.J. and Fr. Paul McCarthy, S.J.
During his 30-year teaching career at Fordham Prep, Fr. Rooney often spent his summers in Utah, where he would fill in at parishes to allow local priests to enjoy a summer break.
After retiring from teaching, Fr. Rooney came to the Diocese of Salt Lake City to devote himself full time to pastoral ministry, and to take up his favorite hobby of landscape photography in southern Utah. From 1998 to 2004, he was first administrator and then pastor at St. Pius X Church in Moab and St. Joseph Parish in Monticello. From 2004 to 2012 he was pastor at San Andres Parish in Payson and St. Patrick Parish in Eureka.
When his health declined, he returned to the Bronx and entered his order’s retirement home, Murray-Weigel Hall.
Fr. Rooney died Feb. 3, 2014.
Fr. McCarthy spent 35 years as a chemistry professor, first at St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, N.J., then at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y. In 1975 he began to visit the Diocese of Salt Lake City to help fill in for diocesan priests. Other than the parish ministry, he was attracted to the skiing, a sport he continued until he was 87.
As his schedule changed and he was in the classroom only half of the year, he spent the remainder of the time in parishes in Utah. He became a permanent resident of the Beehive State in 2000.
He served as parochial vicar of St. Thomas More Parish in Cottonwood Heights from 2000 to 2014. Then, at the age of 90, he moved to his order’s retirement home in the Bronx, N.Y.