Fr. David Lester Bristow, Pastor Emeritus of St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, passed away Saturday, May 22, 2021.
Fr. Bristow was the youngest of five children born to Lester J. and Thyra Aurelia Bristow, three of whom lived to maturity — him and two sisters. Fr. Bristow was born in Marlin, in
central Texas. His father was a farmer and operated his own wholesale produce business, while his mother was a registered nurse.
In January of 1959, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was trained as a Hospital Corpsman. He served almost 18 months in Vietnam.
He discerned a call to ordained ministry and was ordained a priest for the Episcopal Church in 1976. During that time, he served for 10 years as canon theologian to the Rt. Rev. Clarence Pope, then the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth who himself had worked for reconciliation between the Anglican tradition and the Catholic Church.
After serving as an Episcopalian priest for 21 years, Fr. Bristow took a sabbatical in 1995, formally resigned, and was later received into the Catholic Church with his wife Janice. He was ordained a Catholic priest two-and-a-half years later on May 23, 1998.
As a Catholic priest, he served as a parochial vicar at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in Arlington, 1998-2000, and at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Bedford, 2000-2001. In 2001, after a short stint as temporary parochial administrator of St. Michael, he was assigned as pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption, where he served for the remainder of his priesthood.
As pastor of St. Mary, Fr. Bristow developed a relationship with Mother and Unborn Baby Care, a pregnancy resource center in Fort Worth, and invited the organization to host its annual Mass for babies who died before Baptism. The annual liturgy invites parents to bring a rose — which represents a child lost to abortion, miscarriage, stillbirth, or SIDS — to the Marian altar to ask Mary to bring their children to her Son.
As a pastor and supervisor, he was very family-oriented. Reflecting on his ministry during the Year for Priests 2009-2010, Fr. Bristow shared with the North Texas Catholic that “being with God’s people is the fundamental element of priesthood. I draw joy and energy from being with them.”
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Janice; his daughters, Kathryne Denise Ross of Dallas, and Janice LaNell Smith of Hurst; eight grandchildren; six great- grandchildren; and nephews and nieces.