John Rotelle, OSA
January 18, 1939 - September 1, 2002
January 18, 1939 - September 1, 2002
Father John Rotelle, OSA, who served as the second Executive Director of the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, died at the age of 63. A funeral Mass was celebrated for him at Villanova University on September 4, 2002.
John Edward Rotelle, son of Mariano Rotelle and Esther Veneziale, was born on January 18, 1939, in Ambler, Pa. John was baptized in Saint Joseph Church in Amber, and received his early education at Saint Joseph parochial school. In 1956, he graduated from Malvern Preparatory School, Malvern, Pennsylvania, and entered the Novitiate at New Hamburg, N.Y. John professed first vows on September 10, 1957 and solemn vows on September 10, 1960. In 1961, he graduated from Villanova University with the BA in philosophy, and continued his studies at the Augustinian International College of St. Monica in Rome where he was ordained to the priesthood on February 20, 1965. The following year he obtained the STL from the Gregorian University. Father Rotelle continued his studies in liturgy at Instituto San Anselmo in Rome.
While a student in Rome, during the Second Vatican Council and later, John was involved with the Church’s liturgical reform, which included the translation of texts for the Sacramentary and the Liturgy of the Hours, and worked on the International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). For the rest of his life John continued working in those areas, by translating and publishing texts from the Church Fathers, especially Saint Augustine, and the writers who are a part of the Augustinian heritage. In 1969, Father Rotelle became director of students at the International College of Saint Monica. In 1970, he became Director of Students at Augustinian College, Washington, DC, until 1974. In 1977 he took up residence at Austin Friars Hall, in Washington, DC., where he served as second counselor and Sacristan until 1982. Then, in 1982, because of his literary skills, he became Director of Communications and lived at the Augustinian Community in Overbrook, Pa. The following year he moved to Saint Thomas Monastery, Villanova, Pa., where he lived from 1983 to 1985. In 1985, he took up residence at Saint John Stone Friary, Villanova, Pa., continued as Director of Communication and became the Director of the Augustinian Press, Spiritual Director of the Augustinian Seculars, and from 1994 until his death in 2002, Father Rotelle was secretary to the provincial.
A significant trait possessed by Father Rotelle was his quiet approach to fulfilling his personal mission as priest, religious, editor of the works of the Church Fathers, Spiritual Director, and Director of communication. He became part of the international network of translators and publishers and introduced the spiritual insights of the early Church writers to a worldwide audience. Though his energies were focused on church related publications, Father John had a strong desire to serve in the Peruvian Missions and in higher education. He was proficient in Italian, French, German, Spanish and a reading ability of Dutch. His choice to continue with literary works was based upon the needs of the Province.
After Father John died on September 1, 2002, his wishes were met, having requested that “my funeral Mass be at Saint Thomas Church (on campus), the place where I made my solemn profession in the Augustinian way of life. I also request that my burial take place in my family plot. Thank you. I look forward to meeting Augustine.”
Mass of Christian Burial, celebrated on September 4, 2002, was followed by the interment in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania.