Fr. Larry Betrozoff, retired priest of the Diocese of Monterey in California, has transitioned into Eternity from Los Banos, CA on Sunday, June 25, 2017. He was 80 years old.
Fr. Larry had always said that God had given him two great gifts: his Catholic faith as a convert in 1953 with the Mass in Latin; then his call to be priest, which led to his seminary education during the transition days into the Vatican II priestly ministry. He would say to his conservative critics that the Church he met and loved was the Latin Mass church, but the Church he became a priest in was the post-Vatican II Church. Now, God is transitioning Fr. LB to a third free gift of Everlasting Life. He always did say: “The best is yet to come.”
Lawrence Edwin Betrozoff was born in Raymond, Washington on February 23, 1937, the seventh born of eleven children of Alex Elmarzavich and Katie Domin Betrozoff, the entire family being eight boys and three girls. In 1943 he started his education at Riverdale Elementary, attending five years at that area grammar school. With grades 6-7-8 he attended Junior High at the “downtown” school complex, eventually graduating from Raymond High School with the Class of 1955. In 1956 he moved to San Francisco, CA where sisters Stella, Ange, and eldest brother Mike lived. He worked ten years for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. in their SF and Oakland offices. After a two-year stint at USF’s Night School and Day Division, he entered St. Patrick’s Seminary College in Menlo Park CA, graduating in 1969 with a degree in Philosophy. That Fall he entered their Theologate and four years later he received a Master of Divinity degree and a Certificate of Pastoral Ministry. On June 23, 1973 at Carmel Mission he was ordained priest by Bishop Harry Clinch for the Diocese of Monterey in California.
Fr. Larry cherished his sacramental and liturgical ministry. During his thirty years as active priest he was Vocation Director of the diocese for eight years, worked with the Search Program, Cursillo movement, Engaged Encounter, and was on the diocesan Executive Team Leadership of Worldwide Marriage Encounter. He started parish ministry as Associate at Madonna Del Sasso in Salinas (’73-’77), was transferred to St. Francis Xavier in Seaside (’77-’78), St. Joseph’s in Capitola (’78-’79). Bishop Clinch appointed him full time Vocation Director with residence at St. Jude’s in Marina (’79-’80). Then came half-time Associate at St. Angela’s in Pacific Grove (’80-’83). His first parish as pastor was St. Joseph’s Church in Spreckels (’83-’85). From there he pastored two parishes: Resurrection at Aptos (’85-’86) and St. Joseph’s in Capitola (’85-’94). He then worked through a sabbatical year at St. Theresa’s Church in Carson City, NV (’94-’95). When Reno-Las Vegas became two dioceses, he returned to his own Diocese of Monterey as Associate at Old Mission, San Luis Obispo (’95-’97). He was made Administrator at Santa Rosa Church in Cambria from January – August of 1997, then ending his pastoral ministry with six years as pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Tres Pinos, CA (’97’03). He transitioned to retirement in September of 2003 living in Hollister, CA until his death.
During the years of parish ministry he was known for his work among teens through parish teen programs, retreat work on the high school and college levels. He was known for his time as counselor, confessor, creative altar server programs, creative family Masses, creative confirmation programs and his own celebrations of the weekend liturgies. He was known for planning significant updating of parish physical facilities so as to more support his parishioner’s own ministries. His deacon-year supervisor would always say that people have a right to listen to something intelligent when they attended weekend Mass and Fr. LB worked to that end. Over the years Fr. LB relished his time writing columns and making his parish bulletin something that even teenagers wanted to read each week. Beginning with his ’72-’73 deacon year at Aptos with Fr. Frank Markey he learned “if you want to truly communicate with your people through the parish bulletin, you have to commit to the level of quality time and effort each week to make it worth reading.” Valuable lessons in ministry were learned from other pastors like Fathers John Kennedy, Dan Cronin, Joe Steiger, Tom Neary, and in Nevada, Fr. Jerry Hanley.Father Larry touched many lives with his deep faith, humor, and many stories. In his days of retirement he felt his calling was to pray for everyone and everything at petition time through his private Mass. He often said his spiritual life and relationship with God was more rich in retirement than it was during this thirty years of active ministry. In his own words he would admit that it was such a privilege to be a priest-among-people. He loved being a part of everyone’s life as a priest. He’d say that “God has His part in this big picture, I have my part, and you (people) have your part. And we do not need to know exactly what God is doing; we just have to be willing to do our part of the picture. And God gets all the credit.
“Father Larry is survived by three brothers: John of Whidbey Island WA; Frank of Olympia WA; Norman of Raymond WA, and also the first-born sister of the eleven, Stella of Raymond WA. He has numerous nieces and nephews in WA State. Also of great significance in California, Fr. LB is survived by his supportive ‘Catholic Family’ of so many years, the Albert and Rosalie Osterkamp family. As a new Associate at Capitola, he met two “age contemporaries”, Albert and Rosalie Osterkamp. Yearly he’d smile to see his own month on the Osterkamp family calendar. Father officiated at all six weddings and baptized 14 grandkids. He enjoyed saying that he is a “grand-priest” 14 times.Fr.
Larry was predeceased by his father Alex (4-75), mother Katie (8-69), and by four brothers: Mike (11-85), Walter (9-08), Stanley (“Stack” 4-10), Alex, Jr. (5-10); by two sisters: Kathleen (1-92) and Evangeline (“Ange” 9-98). He was also predeceased by his supportive family leader, Albert Osterkamp (6-12).
Friends in the Santa Cruz area may pay their respects at viewing to be held on Wednesday July 5, 2017, from 1pm until 8pm at Benito and Azzaro Pacific Gardens Chapel.
On Thursday July 6, 2017, Fr. Larry’s body will lie in state at Immaculate Conception Church in Tres Pinos (where he was last pastor) from 1pm to 8pm.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Benedict’s Church in Hollister on Friday, July 7, 2017 at 10am. Interment in Santa Cruz will be private.
In lieu of flowers, Fr. LB would appreciate donations to further scholarship help in three places for the future educating of young persons: The Reverend Father Larry Betrozoff Scholarship Fund at Raymond Schools Foundation (PO Box 345, Raymond WA 98577); also the Fr. Larry Betrozoff Scholarship Fund for San Benito County Youth through the Community Foundation for Sa n Benito County (829 San Benito St., Suite 200, Hollister, CA 95023).
His body will be at rest in the priest plot at Holy Cross Cemetery in Santa Cruz, California where he will await the full resurrection by his Lord and Redeemer. At a visit there you will read Fr. LB’s own words to you at the top of his gravestone: “Everything is grace, including this place” and at the bottom: “Thanks for stopping by. Pray for me.”