Priests honored on their 25th, 50th jubilees

Friday, May. 17, 2019
Priests honored on their 25th, 50th jubilees + Enlarge
BIshop Oscar A. Solis is shown with the five priests of the diocese who are celebrating significant anniversaries of their priesthood this year. From left are Bishop Solis, Fr. Michael Sciumbato, Fr. Patrick Carley, Fr. David Bittmenn, Fr. Anastasius Iwuoha and Fr. Erik Richtsteig.
By Marie Mischel
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY — Five priests in the Diocese of Salt Lake City celebrate a significant anniversary of their ordination to the priesthood this year. Father Patrick Carley, a retired priest of the diocese, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his ordination on June 7. Celebrating the 25th year of their ordination on June 25 are Father David Bittmenn, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish; Father Erik Richtsteig, pastor of St. James the Just Parish; and Father Michael Sciumbato, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Ogden. Father Anastasius Iwuoha, administrator of St. Patrick Parish, will celebrate his 25th anniversary on Aug. 27.

The jubilarians were feted by their brother clergy at a dinner on May 8 at St. Vincent de Paul Parish. Each of them was “roasted” by another priest. Fr. Carley, while giving the opening prayer for the event, asked that they pray for the people in the parishes and communities they serve.

At the end of the celebration, Bishop Oscar A. Solis said, “It is truly a great moment for all of us to be gathered to celebrate what is common among us, and that is the gift, the blessing that each and every one of us has received from God.”

During their years as a priest, the jubilarians have changed many lives because of their ministry and brought many people to God, Bishop Solis said before offering his congratulations to them. “We wish that God’s blessings continue to be poured out on you, not only so that you may live longer but enjoy your life and ministry, and continue to be of service to God’s people here in our local Church in the Diocese of Salt Lake City.”  

Fr. Patrick Carley was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Salt Lake City on June 7, 1969 in Thurles, Ireland by Dr. Thomas Morris. He arrived in Utah that same year. He served in the parishes of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Ambrose, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Anthony, the Cathedral of the Madeleine, St. Mary of the Assumption, St. Ambrose, St. Olaf, Sacred Heart, St. Patrick in Salt Lake City, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Lourdes in Salt Lake City. His final assignment before retiring in 2016 was at St. Joseph the Worker Parish. Other assignments included serving as chaplain for local hospitals.

At the dinner, Father John Norman, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, said among the qualities that come mind when he thinks of Fr. Carley are “his commitment to his sense of his ministry, and that he cares very much for people, and that he, throughout these 50 years, has been dedicated to building and strengthening communities.”

Fr. David Bittmenn was ordained a priest on June 25, 1994 at the Cathedral of the Madeleine by the Most Rev. William K. Weigand. He served at the parishes of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Cathedral of the Madeleine, St. Bridget, St. John Bosco, St. Ambrose, St. Mary and St. Patrick in Salt Lake City prior to his current assignment to St. Francis of Assisi. In August, he will begin as pastor of St. George Parish and its missions. Other appointments have included teaching at Judge Memorial Catholic High School, serving as chaplain, a term on the Priests’ Personnel Board, and as Dean of the Wasatch Deanery.  

Fr. Ken Vialpando, pastor of St. Marguerite Parish, said he is impressed with Fr. Bittmenn’s ability to build community, his concern about the welfare of others, his modesty and his integrity. “You’ve definitely raised the bar for all of us on what it means to be a priest who loves God and who serves the people who are entrusted to your care,” Fr. Vialpando told Fr. Bittmenn.

Fr. Anastasius Iwuoha was ordained a priest on Aug. 24, 1994 at Holy Trinity Parish in Omuma, Nigeria, by the Most Rev. Gregory O. Ochiagha for the Catholic Diocese of Orlu. His first assignment was as assistant secretary to the bishop; he then was assigned as pastor of a parish, an assignment that included serving as a school teacher and chaplain. After coming to the United States, he was administrator of the cathedral in Juneau, Alaska for four years. In 2005 he arrived in the Diocese of Salt Lake City, where his first assignment was as chaplain of St. Joseph Villa and for local hospitals. He also provided sacramental ministry for the parishes of Immaculate Conception and was chaplain for the Carmelite monastery before being assigned as administrator of St. Patrick Parish. In addition, he served a two-year term as a Presbyteral Council member.

At the dinner, his fellow countryman, Fr. Roland Nwokocha, said Fr. Iwuoha “has always been a man of the Church who sought to bring Christ and not himself. His use of his considerable abilities in relation to a wide range of people makes us join joyfully in thanking God for the gifts which he has given him.”

Fr. Erik Richtsteig was ordained a priest on June 25, 1994 at the Cathedral of the Madeleine by the Most Rev. William K. Weigand. He has served at the parishes of St. Patrick in Salt Lake City, Notre Dame, St. Anthony and St. the Just. In August he will begin as pastor of St. Ambrose Parish. In addition, he has served as a chaplain to hospitals and jails and for the Scouts and for the Knights of Columbus. He is the priest moderator for the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s Northern Deanery, and has served on the Board of Trustees for St. Joseph Catholic High School and the diocesan Building Committee.

In reminiscing at the dinner, Father Donald Hope, a retired priest of the diocese, said he talked to people in Helper about Fr. Richtsteig, and “they said he had a real deep love and showed a real compassion for the sick and dying.”

The people of Helper also said Fr. Richtsteig has great love for the Eucharist, as well, Fr. Hope said.

Fr. Michael Sciumbato was ordained a priest on June 25, 1994 at the Cathedral of the Madeleine by the Most Rev. William K. Weigand.  He has served at the parishes of St. Rose of Lima, St. Elizabeth, Notre Dame de Lourdes, St. James the Just, St. Francis of Assisi, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Ann and St. Joseph in Ogden. Other assignments have been as a teacher at St. Joseph High School, pastoral care at Salt Lake area hospitals, and administrator of Kearns-St. Ann School. After being ordained a priest, he was sent by the diocese to Mexico to learn Spanish, and now “he is doing tremendous work with the Spanish-speaking people, with those who have no privileges, with the marginalized,” said Msgr. Michael Winterer, a retired priest of the diocese. Msgr. Winterer said he asked some of people about Fr. Sciumbato’s best qualities, and their answer was, “He cares. He loves us.”

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