Monsignor Michael Slattery of St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Church in Santa Clarita died in his sleep on Tuesday night at a church care facility in Culver City, where he’d been living since the fall due to becoming too frail, church officials said. He was 84 years old.
An outpouring of condolences and memories from the St. Kateri church community totaled more than 400 responses on the church’s Facebook page by Thursday afternoon. Church leaders said Slattery was a cherished servant of God.
“He had a 60th anniversary mass in June,” said St. Kateri Pastor Vaughn Winters. “And that was such a blessing that everybody got to see him. He was here and doing pretty good. And he was able to be at the reception until the very end to greet everybody who wanted to greet him, not knowing that it was kind of a farewell.”
In a Thursday morning Facebook post, the church wrote that Slattery’s “kindness, compassion and unwavering faith have touched the lives of so many, and he will be deeply missed. We extend our condolences to Monsignor Mike’s family, friends and all who knew him. Let us remember him with love and gratitude for the time he spent with us, and let his memory inspire us to live with the same love, humor and faith he exemplified.”
Gerri Davis McCorkle, a former church member and Valencia resident, now residing in the state of Idaho, told The Signal that she used to live near Slattery in the same neighborhood and would often see him on his daily walks.
“While I was on my way to work,” she recalled, “he’d be in a black hoodie, and I’d be wondering who that was. He’d always have his hands behind his back. I think he put in probably 3 or 4 miles daily on his walks. And then he’d always end up at either Pam’s Donuts at Seco (Canyon Road) and Copper Hill (Drive), or Starbucks. And, you know, I remember buying coffee for him occasionally, and he always had a newspaper, but then he was always interrupted by parishioners.”
McCorkle said that members of the church would regularly sit with him and talk.
“And it wasn’t necessarily just religious things,” she added. “It was current events and what’s going on in the community. And he knew all the kids. He was more than just a priest that was there on the weekends. He was there 24/7.”
Slattery was said to have been one of the founders of St. Kateri in Santa Clarita. According to the church’s website, a group of families in 1990 felt that Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Newhall and St. Clare of Assisi Parish in Canyon Country needed help in serving the area’s growing population.
The church began with St. Clare’s pastor at the time establishing St. Clare Mission, with early masses being held at Santa Clarita Elementary School and Arroyo Seco Junior High School. The church’s website indicated that the parish was officially established on July 1, 1998, and that Slattery took on the role of pastor.
On Good Friday, April 6, 2007, the website added, construction of the church and an administration building got underway. On Friday, Sept. 4, 2009, Cardinal Roger Mahony blessed and dedicated Blessed Kateri Church and the administration building.
Families began celebrating masses in the new church on Sept. 26, 2009. Less than five years later, Slattery retired from full-time duties on June 30, 2013. During his time at St. Kateri, according to the church website, Slattery fostered spiritual growth, and was gifted with the charisms of healing and mercy, which empowered him to pray for the sick, anoint and reach out to those in need.
“As one of the succeeding pastors,” Winters said, “I feel very indebted to him (Slattery) because, obviously, this is such a strong parish, and he’s the one who created this from the very beginning.”