Looking Back at 2017 in the Diocese of Salt Lake City

Friday, Dec. 29, 2017
Looking Back at 2017 in the Diocese of Salt Lake City + Enlarge
Bishop Oscar A. Solis at his installation in the Cathedral of the Madeleine.
By Special to the Intermountain Catholic


Jan. 13: Pope Francis appointed the Most Rev. Oscar A. Solis as the 10th Bishop of Salt Lake City. The diocese had been without a bishop since June of 2015, when the Most Rev. John C. Wester, our ninth bishop, was appointed Archbishop of Santa Fe. Bishop Solis is the first Filipino-America bishop ordained in the United States; at the time of his appointment he was serving as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Jan. 18: Deacon Willie Folkes died. He was ordained in 2004 and ministered at the Cathedral of the Madeline, St. George Parish and St. Peter Parish.

Jan. 19: Christ the King parishioner Pat Sproul was presented with the 2017 Citizen of the Year award by the Cedar City Area Chamber of Commerce for her volunteer work with the Ye Olde Catholic Thrift Shoppe.

Jan. 27: Fifteen deacons were ordained in the Cathedral of the Madeleine by Archbishop John C. Wester for the Diocese of Salt Lake City. The men, who all speak Spanish, are assigned to parishes throughout the state.


Feb. 4: Catholics joined the thousands of people who participated in the Utah March for Refugees in Salt Lake City, protesting the executive order that prohibited refugees from entering the United States. A similar march in Ogden drew hundreds of people as well.

Feb. 7: Holy Cross Sister Patricia Burke died. Five days before her death, Sr. Patricia had celebrated the 75th anniversary of her First Profession of Vows. She was a nurse on three continents: North America, Asia and Africa. Among her assignments was Salt Lake City.

Feb. 22: Fr. Eugenio Yarce, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish, celebrated the 25th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

Feb. 25: The Juan Diego Catholic High School girls basketball team claimed the 2017 3A State Championship title after a hard-fought final game against Richfield High School.


March 7: The Most Rev. Oscar A. Solis was installed as 10th Bishop of Salt Lake City during the Mass and Rite of Canonical Possession in the Cathedral of the Madeleine, which was attended by Archbishop Christophe Pierre; Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations; Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Province of San Francisco; Archbishop José Palma, of Cebu, the Philippines; Archbishop José H. Gómez of Los Angeles; the Hon. Salvador Medialdea, Executive Secretary of the President of the Philippines, 37 bishops, numerous clergy and religious from the dioceses where Bishop Solis has served as well as those from the Diocese of Salt Lake City, representatives of the local ecumenical and interfaith community, government officials and the lay faithful.

March 12: A steel cross that had recently been installed at St. Joseph the Worker Parish’s Our Lady’s Chapel was blessed by Fr. Javier Virgen, pastor.

March 27: Fr. Sébastien Sasa Nganomo Babisayone arrived in Salt Lake City to begin his ministry as hospital chaplain at the University of Utah Medical Center, Primary Children’s Hospital and Huntsman Cancer Institute.

March 20: The Madeleine Choir School celebrated the completion of the renovations to Jacquelyn M. Erbin Hall.

March 26: Deacon Ricardo Arias died. Ordained on Jan. 24, 2002, he had served as director of the diocesan Vocations Office. Prior to that appointment, he had ministered at the parishes of Sacred Heart, St. Joseph (Ogden) and Sts. Peter and Paul.

March 30: The world-renowned King’s College Choir from Cambridge, England, performed at the Cathedral of the Madeleine.


April 14: Bishop Solis published his first Pastoral Letter, “A Springtime of the New Evangelization.”

April 23: St. Rose of Lima Parish dedicated and blessed the new cover for its baptismal font.

April 25: Smokey the Bear visited St. Vincent de Paul School in honor of first-grader Landon Ouellette winning the 2017 Smokey Bear and Woodsey Owl Poster Contest, sponsored by the Forest Service.

April 26: Blessed Sacrament School presented its first play.

April 28: St. Thomas Aquinas Parish celebrated its 75th anniversary.

April 29: St. Joseph Catholic High School senior Kathleen Tomon sets a state record in discus at the UHSAA State Track and Field Championship.


May 2: Archbishop George H. Niederauer died. The eighth Bishop of Salt Lake City, the Most Rev. Niederauer was installed as Archbishop of San Francisco in 2006 and retired in 2012.

May 19: Dennis Kelsch, director of Homeless Services at Catholic Community Services, retired.

May 20: The Juan Diego Catholic High School boys lacrosse team claims the Utah High School Lacrosse League 2017 Class A state title after the championship game against Bright High School, with a score of 10-9.

May 31: Holy Cross Sr. Kathleen Moroney, who founded Holy Cross Ministries’ Legal Immigration Program, retired.


June 10: Msgr. Terence M. Moore celebrated his 50th anniversary of priestly ordination.

June 25: Sacred Heart Parish celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving for its 100th anniversary.

June 26: St. Christopher Parish was rededicated after the interior of the church was remodeled.

June 27: Fr. William Wheaton celebrated the 25th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

June 28: Fr. Albert Ndepachio Kileo, ALCP celebrated the 25th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

June 30: Fr. Stephen Tilley was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Salt Lake City in the Cathedral of the Madeleine.


July 1: Dominican Fr. Marcin Szymanski began his ministry as associate pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Newman Center.

July 3: Dominican Fr. Peter Hannah celebrated his last Mass at St. Catherine of Siena Newman Center; he departed on July 8 to continue his studies in Rome.

July 16: Holy Cross Sr. Mary Ann Pajakowsi celebrated her Golden Jubilee.


Aug. 1: Three diocesan priests retired: Msgr. Robert J. Bussen, Msgr. Joseph M. Mayo and Fr. Patrick Elliott.

Aug. 11: Msgr. Robert R. Servatius died. Ordained a priest for the Diocese of Salt Lake City on May 23, 1964, Msgr. Servatius served in numerous capacities, including a stretch as editor of the Intermountain Catholic and many terms as the spiritual advisor for the Council of Catholic Women at both the national and diocesan levels. His last assignment was at Blessed Sacrament Parish, where he oversaw the building of the school.

Aug. 18: Thousands of people from all over the diocese celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal’s Family Encounter.

Aug. 27: Cazzie Brown, a former faculty member and coach at Our Lady of Lourdes School and Judge Memorial Catholic High School, died.

Aug. 31: Our Lady of the Holy Trinity Abbey in Huntsville closed.


Sept. 2: Bishop Solis celebrated a Mass in honor of the 400th year of the Vincentian charism. Honored at the Mass were local members of the Daughters of Charity, the Ladies of Charity and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Sept. 5: Bishop Solis issued a statement opposing the federal administration’s decision to end the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. In the diocese, Catholic Community Services and Holy Cross Ministries offered workshops to help those enrolled in the program complete the necessary paperwork.

Sept. 6: Catholic Community Services of Northern Utah broke ground for a new warehouse. 

Sept. 9: St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Sept. 16: Many Catholics in the diocese joined members of Catholic Community Services of Utah and other Utahns to support those in the DACA program during a march at the state capitol.

Sept. 23: After months of preparation, the 165 V Encuentro delegates were sent forth into the diocese during a Mass celebrated by Bishop Solis at the diocesan Pastoral Congress.

Sept. 27: The new St. Joseph Catholic Church in Monticello was dedicated.

Sept. 29: The 50th anniversary of the Charismatic Movement was celebrated.

Sept. 30: The Judge Memorial Catholic High School girls tennis won the UHSAA 3A state championship after defeating Grantsville High School in the finals.


Oct. 6: St. Francis of Assisi Parish celebrated 125 years.

Oct. 8: Catholics in the diocese joined in Common Prayer with Lutherans at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church to celebrate the reunification efforts that have occurred over the last 50 years in light of the 500 years since the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.

Oct. 10: The 50th anniversary of the St. Vincent de Paul dining hall was celebrated.

Oct. 12: The Diocese of Salt Lake City joined the worldwide commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima.

Oct. 14: St. Lawrence Mission kicked off its capital campaign for a new church.

Oct. 20: Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, celebrates the Divine Liturgy at St. Vincent de Paul Parish.

Oct. 29: Utah’s Catholic Filipino community celebrated 10 years of Tagalog Masses in the diocese.


Nov. 4: Debra Adams, past chairperson of the diocesan Commission for People with Disabilities, died.

Nov. 11: The Juan Diego Catholic High School football team claimed its third consecutive state 3A championship with a 45-20 win over the Morgan Trojans.

Nov. 12: St. Thomas Aquinas Parish held a “burning of the mortgage” celebration.

Nov. 15: William LaVon Price, a community activist who among many other efforts established the Parish Athletic Recreation Association, died.

Nov. 18: The diocese celebrated the culmination of its V Encuentro effort with a Mass that honored more than 375 missionary disciples and delegates. Bishop Solis presided at the Mass.

Nov. 30: Deacon Mark Bourget died. He was ordained a deacon on Nov. 30, 1997, and served at St. Marguerite and St. George parishes.


Dec. 7: St. Ambrose Catholic Church was rededicated after an interior renovation.

Dec. 8: Judge Memorial Catholic High School dedicates its gymnasium to Coach Jim Yerkovich, JMCHS Class of ’61, who also served as the school’s head basketball coach from 1968 to 2010. Under his leadership the school claimed three state basketball championships and 18 region titles.

Dec. 12: Fr. José Barrera celebrated the 25th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

Dec. 17: Holy Cross Sr. Yvonne Hatt retired after almost 30 years of ministry in Utah.

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