Wednesday, October 14, 2009

MONSIGNOR VITO FRANCISCO MISTRETTA : 1917 - 2009; REST IN PEACE.........

I have just received a telephone call from the retired Secretary-Bookkeeper of Holy Family Parish, Citrus Heights, Louise Bartridge, informing me of the death last night of Monsignor Vito F. Mistretta. Msgr. Mistretta was 92 years old. A native of Brooklyn, New York, where he was born on January 27, 1917, he was ordained a Priest of Jesus Christ for the Diocese of Sacramento, California on March 21, 1942. He was Assistant Pastor of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, from 1942-1946; and then Assistant Pastor of St. Rose Parish, Roseville, from 1946-1949. At that time the Roseville Parish included a Mission, in the neighboring community of Citrus Heights. In October 1949, Bishop Robert J. Armstrong appointed 32 year old Father Mistretta, Founding Pastor of the then newly created parish of Holy Family, Citrus Heights. And as a result he remained the founding Pastor for more than 40 years, retiring in February 1990. Developing the parish plant on Old Aubrurn Road off Sunrise, on acreage that was until then an olive orchard, Father Mistretta procured as the first church a chapel from the World War Two base, Camp Kohler. That chapel was the temporary parish church for the sixteen years, until the permanent parish church edifice was built and dedicated in 1965, one of the first two churches built in our Diocese after the Second Vatican Council. From 1956 onward, a string of priests were assigned to either live in residence or serve Holy Family Parish as associate pastors. I was the very last of the associate pastors to serve under Msgr. Mistretta, as my first assignment after priestly ordination, July 1, 1987 - September 25, 1988. His last, "young puppy", so to speak...Today, 60 years after the parish's founding and nearly 20 years after his retirement as founding Pastor, Holy Family is now the most populous geographic parish in the Sacramento Diocese, as Citrus Heights city and unincorporated area inclusive, has a total population in excess of 103,000 people, according to the 2000 census. On ThanksGiving weekend 2000, it fell to me to become Msgr. Vito Mistretta's third successor as Pastor of Holy Family Parish, following in not only in his footsteps as founding Pastor, but those oof my two other predecessors, Father Simon Twomey and Father John Cantwell. I gladly returned to Holy Family as Pastor and happily served the Citrus Heights Catholic-Christian community of believers as its local shepherd, from November 24, 2000 - June 27, 2005, when my diabetes and a medical leave cost me my pastorate...Father Mistretta had been Pastor of Holy Family for 30 years in 1979, when he was named a Right Reverend Monsignor, by Pope John Paul II. He was at that time 62 years old and continued to serve as Pastor of Holy Family for more than a decade longer, until he retired at age 73; 40 years and 4 months, after the parish began. Upon his death last night, Msgr. Mistretta has been a priest of the Sacramento Diocese for 67 years, 6 months, and 22 days...His funeral arrangements are pending and I await word as to the day and time, considering I will be present if it occurs after this Saturday when I return to Sacramento from my 8 week kidney transplant hiatus in Phoenix, Arizona. I have just spoken with my colleague Father Benedict DeLeon from the Priests' Study Days at Christ the King Retreat Center in Citrus Heights. He said no arrangements for Msgr. Mistretta's funeral rites have been announced yet. As we prepare to bid Vito Mistetta farewell and commend his eternal soul to Almighty God, I acknowledge and appreciate the priestly service he rendered the Catholic people of Citrus Heights, Roseville, and the Cathedral parishes, as one of less than 70 American born priests ordained for the Diocese of Sacramento, in our 123 year history. Eternal Rest Grant to Him O Lord, and Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Him. May He Rest In Peace...Alleluia !! Amen !!.........Fr. Troy Powers
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