Msgr. Mark S. Rivituso was at his desk on a recent Monday morning when the papal nuncio called. Pope Francis had appointed him as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Archbishop Christophe Pierre said.
Immediately, Msgr. Rivituso gazed at large crucifix hanging on the wall of his office. "He gave everything for me upon this cross," he reflected. "Now He's asking something of me, and looking at me with love upon the cross. How can I refuse Him? I have to trust enough to say yes." He told the nuncio, "What the Church needs of me, I will do it."
Now-Bishop-elect Rivituso has chosen for his motto, "Caritas Christi Urget Nos," which means "the love of Christ impels us." He will be ordained to the episcopacy in a Mass at 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 2, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. Official announcement of the appointment was made at 5 a.m., March 7, in Rome.
In a statement released March 7, the day the appointment was announced, Bishop-elect Rivituso stated, "I am profoundly touched by the confidence the Holy Father has placed in me. ... I have a great love for the Church in St. Louis, and relying on the example of the previous auxiliary bishops of St. Louis, who served so faithfully, I, too, look forward to serving the Church in this new role."
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson also issued a statement about the appointment: "On behalf of all the clergy, religious, and lay faithful in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, I want to offer our congratulations and thanks to Bishop-elect Rivituso for accepting the Holy Father's call to continue his service to our local Church in this new leadership role as auxiliary bishop."
Since 2011, Bishop-elect Rivituso, 55, has served as vicar general for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, a role in which he aids the archbishop in the administration of the archdiocese. Since 2013, he has lived in residence at Annunciation Parish in Webster Groves. Previously, he served as a canon lawyer in the archdiocesan Metropolitan Tribunal and was pastor of Cure of Ars in Shrewsbury.
He was born in St. Louis on Sept. 20, 1961, the sixth of eight children to August (Gus) and Rosemary Rivituso. He was baptized in 1961 at St. Wenceslaus Parish in south St. Louis, and attended St. Wenceslaus School, which later became Notre Dame Elementary School. His father worked three jobs -- as a barber, providing a television service at the former Missouri Pacific Hospital and as a bottler for Anheuser-Busch Brewery -- to support the family, who lived in a two-family flat in south St. Louis.
His grandmother, Rose Darpel, lived on the second floor of their home. The Rivitusos generally attended a late morning Sunday Mass, but he would tag along with his grandmother to an earlier Mass. "I didn't want her going alone," he said. "We had a very close relationship." She also was the influence behind his devotion to the Rosary and the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Sacred Heart of Jesus. He also filled in as a server at those Masses. "That's where I started hearing the call from Jesus to become a priest," he said.
As a student at St. Mary's High School, Bishop-elect Rivituso prayed daily before the Blessed Sacrament in the school chapel, which solidified his call to the priesthood. He knew he wanted to become a diocesan priest, so he could serve in St. Louis. His parents, who were supportive of his vocation, taught him about the value of family and being generous of heart, even when they didn't have much growing up. The family went to Holy Hours and Perpetual Help devotions, and toured churches on Holy Thursdays to visit the Blessed Sacrament.
Bishop-elect Rivituso attended Cardinal Glennon College and Kenrick Seminary. He also earned a master's degree and a licentiate in canon and civil law from St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada. Bishop-elect Rivituso was ordained a priest for the archdiocese at the St. Louis Cathedral (now Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis) by Archbishop John L. May in 1988. Pope Benedict XVI named him a monsignor in 2005.
He has served as associate pastor of St. Ambrose in south St. Louis (1988-90), part-time associate pastor of Immaculate Conception in Dardenne Prairie and on the faculty of St. Dominic High School (1990-93), part-time associate pastor of St. Margaret of Scotland in south St. Louis and staff member of the archdiocesan Metropolitan Tribunal (1993-94);
After returning from studies in Canada in the mid-1990s, he was appointed to the Metropolitan Tribunal staff (1993-94, 1996-2004) and named part-time associate pastor at St. Jerome in Bissell Hills (1996-2004). He also had assignments as acting associate master of ceremonies to the archbishop (1997-2008), in residence at St. Gabriel the Archangel in south St. Louis (2004-08), adjunct judicial vicar of the Tribunal of Second Instance of the Province of St. Louis (2004-05), judicial vicar of the Tribunal of Second Instance (2005-11) and pastor of Cure of Ars (2008-13).
"The one thing that is very important for me and all the ministries I've been in is to be able to affirm people," he said. "Today people can easily get down upon themselves or have the glass half-empty kind of mentality. Affirmation is something that I've always tried to highlight, to seek out the ones who needed a word of encouragement or take notice of them. We as a church need to be present to those who are in need of healing and reconciliation and give them hope in their lives."
In 2011, Bishop-elect Rivituso was appointed vicar general of the archdiocese, sharing the office with Bishop Edward M. Rice until he was appointed as head of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Mo., in 2016. At the time of his appointment, Msgr. Rivituso said it "is a privilege for me to assist Archbishop Carlson in his pastoral and administrative duties."
He also has served as a confessor for the Little Sisters of the Poor for three years, and was a chaplain for the Veterans Administration in St. Louis for seven years. RELATED ARTICLE(S):Archbishop Carlson appoints Msgr. Rivituso as vicar general