People who came from across the archdiocese to celebrate with Bishop Mark Rivituso May 2 at his episcopal ordination explained the many ways he has touched their lives.
"We love Msgr. Rivituso, soon-to-be bishop Rivituso," said Linda Niederer of St. Theodore Parish in Flint Hill, also speaking for her husband, Alan, and not quite knowing what to call the bishop prior to the ordination Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.
Bishop Rivituso taught their children at St. Dominic High School in O'Fallon, where he was on the faculty from 1990-93. The couple met him in other roles, including confirmations, and at functions such as the kickoff of the Annual Catholic Appeal. "He's a genuinely good man," Linda Niederer said.
Mary Strahan was among dozens of people attending from Annunciation Parish in Webster Groves, where Bishop Rivituso has been assigned in residence since 2013. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see someone we know installed as a bishop. He's an awesome guy," Strahan said.
She added that "he's always telling funny stories about his family and things that happened to him."
People feel comfortable to joke around with Bishop Rivituso. Annunciation parishioner Mary Nussbaum noted that she and her friend were on good behavior because they had promised the bishop they wouldn't embarrass him at the ordination. She said that her daughters appreciate his lightheartedness such as when he told them it was OK to be a little aggressive in nudging others aside when trying to get a moment with their newborn niece.
Chris Doehring of St. Peter Parish in Kirkwood is related to Bishop Rivituso through his wife, who is the bishop's cousin. "It's a great day to celebrate," Doehring said. "It's a nice reward for a guy who's put in a lot of work for the archdiocese through the years."
Doehring considers himself fortunate to know Bishop Rivituso. "He's very outgoing and a gentle, loving man, very humble. Just a really good guy," Doehring said.
The ordination Mass at a packed cathedral basilica took place with the help of numerous volunteers. David Schaefer, a member of Assumption Parish in Mattese who is in the 2018 permanent diaconate class, was happy to help. "I told them I'd do whatever job no one else wants," Schaefer said.
He was lucky to be outside on a recently rare sunny day, helping direct motorists in a parking lot.
St. Dominic High School students Alex Slaid and Shelby Orf helped by greeting people and handing out Mass programs. Volunteering at the Mass was an opportunity that was hard to pass up, said Slaid, a member of Immaculate Conception Parish in Dardenne Prairie. "How often do you get to go to an ordination of a bishop? I'm 16 and never experienced this," she said in answer to her question.
Orf, a member of St. Theodore Parish in Flint Hill, said the friendliness of the people she met stood out. "Everyone is smiling," she said.
Among those smiling faces was Laurie Trudzinski of St. Catherine Laboure Parish in Sappington, who came to see the ordination of someone she considers a friend. "No matter who you are, rich or poor, he's just there for you," she said.