By Liz Sullivan
It is a loss that ripples through not only the Diocese of San Jose, but all of Santa Clara County.
On June 24, Diocese of San Jose’s Chief Financial Officer Robert W. Serventi unexpectedly passed away after a brief and courageous battle with leukemia. He was 69. Serventi had been with the Diocese for 14 years.
“Our coming together today is for so many of us a sorrow beyond imagining,” said Bishop Patrick J. McGrath during his homily at Serventi’s memorial Mass at Saint Nicholas Church in Los Altos.
“How could this happen, we ask, and where was God as Bob was stricken so suddenly with the illness that would take him from us?”
Born in Concord, California to a tight-knit family with eight siblings, Serventi graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, served in the Peace Corps in Peru and later enrolled at the University of Michigan for his MBA.
Married to his wife Katy for 40 years (whom he met at the University of Michigan), they were the parents of four (Christine, Peter, Lisa and Matthew) and the grandparents of two.
“Even nonbelievers will attest to the reality that as long as someone is cherished and remembered, they live on;” said the Bishop. “If there are children and grandchildren, their lives remain intertwined with ours. The blessing of family is a great consolation.”
In addition to his duties as CFO, Serventi was chosen Chairman of the Board of RETA Trust; was a founding board member of the Catholic Community Foundation of Santa Clara County; board member of Catholic Charities and was invested in the Saint Katharine Drexel School System, for which he was also a member of the board. Serventi was deeply honored to have received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award from the Holy Father, at the request of Bishop McGrath.
Outside of work, Serventi was a man of many interests and accomplishments. He had a great passion for gardening, winemaking, and a secret love of marching music. A wonderful cook, Serventi loved to travel and was interested in genealogy and history. Serventi was also a stamp collector and a jack-of-all-trades, who had hand built additions to his two homes as well as myriad home tasks and woodworking projects.
Serventi always found a way to inspire confidence and encourage others. Most of all, he loved spending time with his family.
“Bob was the CFO that every Bishop needs,” said Bishop McGrath.
“He told me the truth whether I liked it or not – I liked it! I knew that I could trust him. I did, and I was never, ever disappointed. Bob was my CFO yes, but he was also my friend. Can you see that moment in Heaven when following the normal introductions Bob turned to Jesus and asked to see the Books – total panic. Jesus, I am sure, looked at the Father and said, “Oh my, what have we done?”