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Bishop’s co-workers provide insight to his personality

"Hard worker," "dedicated," "caring" and "joyous" are the words Bishop-elect Rivituso's former co-workers in in the Metropolitan Tribunal use to describe him.

"He's a great guy" is a refrain heard over and over.

Pat Lanasa, an ecclesiatical notary with the Metropolitan Tribunal, has worked with Bishop Rivituso for 26 years, in his roles as a canon lawyer and as vicar general of the archdiocese. The Tribunal is a court of the Catholic Church charged with seeking and administering justice. With regard to marriage cases, its task is to assist people in arriving at a determination of the truth concerning the binding nature of their marital bond.

Lanasa admires Bishop Rivituso for how much he cares for his family, relating how he responded when his mom wanted a new dress for his episcopal ordination Mass. "He gave her his credit card," Lanasa said, recalling that she teased him about his mom racking up charges with it.

His caring extended to Lanasa when her brother was dying of cancer. Bishop Rivituso asked Lanasa for his room number and stopped in to visit him and administrer sacraments. Before the visit, her brother was agitated, and afterward "he was a changed person," much more calm, Lanasa said.

"I didn't ask him (Bishop Rivituso) to go there. He did it on his own," she said.

Ann Merten, also an ecclesiastical notary with the Metropolitan Tribunal, volunteered to move his extensive collection of books each time he's changed offices. Twice she's moved the books, putting them in the same order each time.

"He's very grateful for anything you do for him. He always gives you credit for what you do and lets you know he appreciates it," Merten said.

Merten is also his go-to person when he loses a button off the shirt front of his priestly garb, since neither he nor his former secretary in the vicar general office had sewing skills. "I'd find it on my desk," Merten said, smiling at his subtle hint.

The new auxiliary bishop has a dedication to his priesthood and "works, works, works," Merten said. "He dosen't put things off. He deals with it right away."

Bishop Rivituso is known for checking in with people at the Cardinal Rigali Center, sincerely wanting to know how they're doing.

Msgr. John Shamleffer knows Bishop-elect Rivituso from their seminary days and as a fellow priest, colleague and friend. Bishop Rivituso "has always been a diligent and dedicated priest, and in his work in the Tribunal always cared about the people that came before him," said Msgr. Shamleffer, the former judicial vicar of the Metropolitan Tribunal and current Appellate Tribunal officer. "He would guide and support them and was a place of calm in the midst of stressful nullity proceedings."

As a canon lawyer, Bishop Rivituso "knows that law follows the teachings of Christ and the Church and the purpose of law is the help us best live out our faith in Jesus Christ," said Msgr. Shamleffer, who also serves as pastor of St. Gabriel Parish in south St. Louis. "I believe that Mark follows the example that Christ gave us all in living a life that doesn't say what are you doing for me, but in what can I do for you. Mark's presence on the altar, in the classroom, in the confessional and at the Tribunal all flowed out of God's love for him and how he could bring that same love to others. I will always remember with found memories my days working with Mark and I know our archdiocese will continue to be blessed with this man of faith and love." 

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