STEUBENVILLE - Retired Bishop Albert H. Ottenweller died Sunday following a brief illness.
Ottenweller was 96 years old and had been living in Toledo since his retirement as bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville.
Diocesan Communications Director Pat DeFrancis confirmed Ottenweller's death Sunday night but said funeral services had not been determined as of this morning.
"Viewing services for Bishop Ottenweller will be held in Toledo and his body will then be brought to Steubenville where a Vigil Service and funeral Mass will be held at the Holy Name Cathedral," said DeFrancis.
"Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati will be the celebrant of the funeral Mass. The day and time of that service has not been set yet," said DeFrancis.
DeFrancis said Ottenweller was one of the oldest living bishops in the Catholic Church.
"He had become fragile in his physical mobility in recent months, but his mind was still very sharp," she added.
Ottenweller was unable to attend the recent ordination and installation of Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of the Steubenville Diocese but sent a personal greeting to the new spiritual leader.
Monforton noted during his personal remarks following his installation that he had the opportunity to visit with Ottenweller earlier this month.
"It has come with great sadness that we have learned that our brother and former ordinary of the Steubenville Diocese died yesterday morning in Toledo. I received word yesterday afternoon upon my return from meetings at the Vatican," Monforton said this morning.
"In my visit with the bishop, approximately three weeks ago, the bishop expressed his deep love for his people in the Steubenville Diocese and the very fond memories, which were in his heart. I indicated to him how grateful I was to succeed him as shepherd, knowing how well respected and loved he was by the faithful of Steubenville," Monforton said.
"In my limited experience with the bishop, when I was Cardinal Adam Maida's secretary, Bishop Ottenweller was always kind and approachable. In my conversations with the chancery staff, as well as some of the faithful in the Steubenville Diocese, I came away with the understanding that Bishop Ottenweller was a deeply spiritual and faithful man, who constantly stressed our need to reach out to the disenfranchised and outcast in our society and that in his leadership he always came across as a gentleman," said Monforton.
Ottenweller moved to northwestern Ohio when he was 6 years old.
He received degrees in philosophy and theology from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., in 1943 and was ordained a parish priest in the Diocese of Toledo that year.
According to his biography on the Steubenville Diocesan website, Ottenweller was named auxiliary bishop of the Toledo diocese on April 17, 1974, by Pope Paul VI.
Ottenweller was named the second bishop of the Steubenville Diocese and installed as the spiritual leader of the 40,000 eastern Ohio Catholics on Nov. 22, 1977.
He retired as the bishop of the Steubenville diocese on April 2, 1992.
The diocesan website credited Ottenweller for establishing a Diocesan processing department in order to have a census of the entire Diocese of Steubenville, the diocesan finance board and converting the former Fort Steuben Hotel into a housing complex for the elderly.
He also founded the Diocesan/Parish Share Campaign as a method of funding for the diocese.