LAYTON -- Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Layton is preparing to bid farewell to its pastor of more than 22 years.
A reception for Monsignor Victor G. Bonnell will be held June 5 in the rotunda and social center at the church, 210 S. Chapel St.
A program beginning at 3 p.m. will feature short talks by the Most Rev. John C. Wester, the Catholic bishop of Salt Lake City; Monsignor Colin Bircumshaw, the vicar general of the diocese; and Monsignor J. Terrence Fitzgerald, the recently retired vicar general of the diocese. Some of the parish members also will speak.
A light buffet will follow the program.
Bonnell, a native of Cleveland, was ordained to the priesthood in 1960 and then served as assistant pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Salt Lake City.
He then served parishes in Vernal and Park City and founded the parish of Saints Peter and Paul in West Valley City in 1972. While there, he supervised the construction of the parish center and rectory.
From l983 to 1988, he was Catholic chaplain at Utah State Prison, Salt Lake County Jail and two youth detention centers.
In an earlier interview, Bonnell said, "People are amazed that I liked the prison ministry. They always needed someone to talk to or to pour out their problems to. You always feel needed."
In 1989, Bonnell was assigned to Saint Rose of Lima Church in Layton. In his time at Saint Rose, the parish has grown from 800 families to more than 1,500.
Mary Adams, church member and past president of the Council of Catholic Women at the church, said one of the things Bonnell will be best remembered for is directing the relocation of the parish to its present address on Chapel Street. Bonnell planned and oversaw the construction of the modern church complex, completed in 1994, and the education center, which was dedicated in 2009.
Adams said the church was not only beautiful but offered a constant presence within the community and won an award for its architecture the year it was built.
Bonnell's desire to help people and connect with his parishioners hasn't gone unnoticed.
When church members had a chance to film several tributes to their pastor, Adams said, the resulting film was very telling.
"He had done things for people -- we had no idea. He is very compassionate, and he has a tender heart."
His care and concern for the Hispanic community is evidenced by the two Sunday services in Spanish, in addition to three in English. Bonnell has said it's important for people to feel comfortable in their church and saying the Mass in Spanish is part of being sensitive to the needs and wishes of all parishioners.
Bonnell's immediate plan is to relocate to Cleveland, where he intends to do weekend ministry.
The pastor's last day at Saint Rose will be June 19, which will mark his 83rd birthday, Father's Day and the anniversary of the day he arrived in Utah 51 years ago.
Bonnell thought it a fitting day to begin his retirement.