Funeral rites will be held Thursday for Monsignor Robert R. Servatius, a former longtime pastor of Sandy’s Roman Catholic parish and ex-editor of the Intermountain Catholic newspaper.

Servatius, who retired from active ministry in 2016 after more than half a century in the priesthood, died Friday at a South Jordan rehabilitation center. He was 79.

“He was a dedicated and faithful priest of the diocese,” said Monsignor Colin Birchumshaw, diocesan vicar general, noting that “Monsignor Bob,” as he was known to parishioners, had his “most significant assignment . . . as pastor of Sandy‘s Blessed Sacrament Parish” from 1986 to 2016.

Monsignor Terrence Fitzgerald, a lifelong friend dating back to high school, said Servatius was “a very dedicated priest and loved his people wherever he was.”

“He focused on enhancing their lives with the mission of the church,” Fitzgerald said, and could defuse any crisis through his calmness and wit.

He was born Jan. 1, 1938, to Raymond and Mary Servatius in Syracuse, N.Y. In 1949, his family moved to Salt Lake City, where he graduated from Judge Memorial Catholic High School in 1956.

During those teenage years. he began to set his sights on the priesthood. “The nuns, the priests at Judge Memorial and in my parish impressed me somuch in the way that they were ministering people that I start[ed]thinking, ’Gee, I may want to become one of them,‘” he told the Intermountain Catholic in 2014.

Servatius was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Salt Lake City in 1964 at the Cathedral of the Madeleine. He went on to serve at St. Joseph Parish n Ogden, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Salt Lake City and St. Francis Xavier Parish in Kearns.

He also taught at Judge Memorial before serving as an administrator of the Notre Dame High School in Price. He was chaplain at the Newman Center in Salt Lake City, family life director for the diocese and editor of its newspaper.

As pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish, Servatius oversaw expansion of the parish school and construction of a new church.

While pastoring in Sandy, Servatius — remembered for his compassion and humor — also served repeated stints as moderator and national spiritual adviser for the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women.

In February 1994, then-Pope John Paul II elevated him to the rank of Prelate of Honor with the title of monsignor.

A 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. viewing was scheduled Wednesday at Salt Lake CIty’s Cathedral of the Madeleine, 331 E. South Temple. A 7 p.m. vigil followed.

A funeral Mass is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday, also at the cathedral, with burial to follow at Mount Calvary Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Priests Mutual Benefit Society, 27 C St., Salt Lake City, 84103.