Bishop Rizzotto reflects on aging, golf and the community that faith has built
February 24, 2015
HOUSTON — Retired Auxiliary Bishop Vincent M. Rizzotto keeps a careful watch on the faithful who attend St. Dominic Village’s Warren Chapel. Some are elegantly dressed, others in simple pajamas and robes. Each seems uplifted by the presence of the 83-year-old native Houstonian with roots in the Sicilian village of Corleone.
Bishop Rizzotto has become “one of them” — a resident of St. Dominic Village, the retirement community and nursing home that his annual golf tournament has raised nearly a million dollars for. He says his Village, with its wooded campus tucked away near the Texas Medical Center, is “the crown jewel of the Archdiocese.”
“When I was in my 40s and 50s I had a sense of immortality,” he said. “I was never going to need the assistance of a facility like St. Dominic provided. I thought I was going to live forever.” He became a bishop 14 years ago at the age of 70. He was very active in his life and the Archdiocese. Although he was a strong supporter of St. Dominic Village, he never had the sense that one day live there.
“I lived alone as an auxiliary bishop. I took care of myself,” he said. “I had lot of work to do, a lot of people around me, and lots of ministry to perform. One day I woke up to the reality that I needed something I was not receiving in living a solitary life and that was a sense of community. I decided to bite the bullet and move some place where I could have community, friends and family around me. St. Dominic Village was the natural place to go.”
Bishop Rizzotto moved in to St. Dominic Village about a year ago. He said he’s made new friends and has found his spirituality enhanced by the whole facility and what it does for people.
“The celebration of faith here at St. Dominic is very important,” he said. “There are a number of people who live here who are not Catholic but who find their own souls being touched by the spirituality and the holiness they experience in this particular place. St. Dominic is not just a human facility, it is a spiritual facility that cares deeply for its residents and truly serves the elderly with the compassion of Christ.”
The retirement home houses close to 25 priests. Under construction now is the new wing for retired priests.
“One of them is for me,” Bishop Rizzotto said. “I love where I live here on the second floor but I’m sure I’ll be just as happy when I move in with the other priests in August.”
This March the Bishop Rizzotto Golf Classic celebrates its 12th annual event.
Bishop Rizzotto became involved in the golf tournament through Susan Stromatt, the former executive director at St. Dominic Village.
“I love golf,” he said. “It was a favorite pass time. I played all my life.”
While supporting the tournament is of great help to the retirement home, there are other ways available to get involved. The St. Dominic Village’s Patron Corps attends to the ongoing needs of the facility and benefactors make a huge difference in the type of care the facility can provide.
“What I was experiencing living alone wasn’t just aloneness, it was a loneliness — the need to have other people around,” Bishop Rizzotto said. “I had lots of friends, and family — nieces and nephews — but they have their own lives to live. Here you belong to a family that has a commonality of being aged, of being elderly and a feeling of wholeness is provided here.”
Within the past three months Bishop Rizzotto was in Rome and had the opportunity to shake hands with Pope Francis, which he said has become one of the highlights of his elder years.
“I’m 83 and he’s 78, I think. We share that aging in common,” Bishop Rizzotto said. “One of the things that I hear him say frequently is that where there is life we need to sustain that and encourage it. Therefore, we need to encourage the Church to provide opportunity to people, at whatever stage of life, to find the presence of Christ in their life.”
St. Dominic Village, a senior care community, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, a Ministry of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and a member of the Texas Medical Center. Programs include the Rehabilitation and Nursing Center; The Assisted Living at St. Dominic Village; and The Independent Living at St. Dominic Village. For more information, visit www.stdominicvillage.org or call 713-741-8701.