COLUMBIA – Some recent statistics say the average worker changes employers every 3 to 5 years and the average marriage lasts about the same.
Father Robert Fix has beaten the odds by celebrating his fiftieth year as a Catholic priest, with the last 30 years spent as a priest for the Charleston diocese and the previous 20 spent serving the Croisier religious community.
His ordination day — June 7 — is also his birthday, making this day a joyous and reflective one for the priest. He celebrated his jubilee at Our Lady of the Hills in Lexington the following day.
“This fiftieth year you shall make sacred by proclaiming liberty in the land for all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you,” read Fix from the Book of Leviticus. The passage is about God instructing Moses on the significance of 50 years of labor.
For Father Fix the labor has been one of love. Upon looking back, he has never regretted his decision to serve.
During the celebration he recited his favorite poem, “Thou Art A Priest Forever,” by the famous French preacher, Lacordaire.
“I thank God I could be the priest of Jesus Christ,” remarked the jubilarian when he was finished.
He also gave thanks to the Blessed Mother for her guidance and protection considering it an honor that he would serve in three parishes named in her honor.
His last assignment before retiring in June 2001 was Our Lady of the Hills Church in Columbia.
His other assignments in the diocese included the religious department head at Bishop England High School in Charleston, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Mauldin, Immaculate Conception Church in Goose Creek, St. John Neumann Church in Columbia and Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Greenwood.
The former pastor now resides at St. Joseph rectory in Columbia, living close to many of his friends and former parishioners.
“He is one of the most delightful people I know,” said Ellen Reddick, one of his former parishioners who now attends Divine Savior Church in York. “He always gives you his full attention and takes joy in anything he does.”
Because of health reasons, Father Fix’s brother Jack was unable to attend the jubilee celebration, but his cousin Richard came from Englishtown, N.J. Richard’s wife, Senia Fix, also attended the service.
The couple and their children have remained close to their cousin priest who married them and baptized each of their children. He also spent most of his holidays with them and Richard’s mother, Helen, who only recently passed away.
“It just wouldn’t be Christmas or Easter without Father Bob,” said Senia.
She described Fix as a big inspiration in her life.
At the Mass and reception, Father Fix was surrounded by many of his close friends, like John and Bert Quin, who have known the priest since 1978. As active parishioners, they have worked with Father Fix on numerous church projects.
“Visiting with father is an enriching experience,” said John. “He brings to any conversation a wealth of knowledge.”
He went on to describe Father Fix as a true “Renaissance man.”
A young couple who were married by Father Fix, Drs. Veto and Tara Cancellaro, also came to the celebration from Greenville. Veto, who was baptized by the priest, said he would not have missed the opportunity to express his gratitude for a priest who has been an important part of his life.
During the Mass, Father Fix was joined by some of his brother priests and deacons.
Father Joe Wahl, provost of the Oratory in Rock Hill and longtime friend of Father Fix, gave the homily.
After contrasting the early times in the 1950s with the current times, Father Wahl praised Father Fix’s ability to “adapt to change and not lose heart, showing a deep faith and love for Christ.”
Father Wahl also said that the greatest homily a priest can give is a Christ centered life, and Father Fix has given the world this great homily for 50 years.