In Tribute: Father inspired, excited church members

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Father Wilfred Savard was involved in the Catholic Church for most of his 86 years, and he led with a style that inspired his church members to be involved, and be excited.

“He was a different type,” said Mimi Garza, a member of Sacred Heart Community Church in Clovis. “It was fun just to go to his masses.”

Born March 23, 1920, in New Hampshire, Savard grew up in the New England area and stayed there to attend seminary school in Massachusetts. He died Feb. 12 at Plains Regional Medical Center.

After his education at Notre Dame and Holy Cross was complete, he spent most of his life teaching the Catholic faith in the southwest and west — some spots in California, Colorado and Texas — but ended up rooted in New Mexico.

New Mexico cities he served included Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Jemez Springs, Vaughn, Anton Chico, Alameda, Questa, Wagon Mound.

Surrounding churches he assisted included Sacred Heart, St. Catherine’s of Melrose, St. Anthony’s of Fort Sumner and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Clovis.

“He was so down to earth,” said Sotero Sena, pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe. “He was true to his priesthood and he was a very awesome individual.”

Daniel Chavez, a deacon at Our Lady of Guadalupe, said he remembered being surprised at the energy Savard had during a trip the two made last year to Albuquerque.

“I thought he was going to sleep all the way, but he didn’t,” Chavez said. “He showed me (during the trip) how dedicated he was to the church. He was always there to perform whatever his ministry called upon him to do.”

Chavez said Savard also used that trip to visit his planned burial site in Albuquerque. However, he never completed paperwork on that site and family members opted for a plot Muffley Funeral Home had open.

Chavez said family members felt it best he be laid to rest in eastern New Mexico, where he had known so many people.

In Tribute is a regular feature. To suggest an honoree, contact CNJ managing editor Rick White at 763-6991 or by e-mail:
rick_white@link.freedom.com