As we join Catholics throughout the Diocese of Steubenville in welcoming new Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton to our community, we also share their sense of loss as they mourn the death of retired Bishop Albert H. Ottenweller.
Ottenweller, who served as the diocese's second bishop, died Sept. 23 in Toledo at the age of 96.
The son of a blacksmith who was born in Stanford, Mont., Ottenweller, whose family settled in the Toledo area, became the spiritual leader of the Steubenville diocese on Nov. 22, 1977, and served our area until his retirement on April 2, 1992.
During his term as bishop, Ottenweller established a processing department at the diocese that allowed for a census to be conducted. He also formed a finance board and worked to convert the former Fort Steuben Hotel into a housing complex for the elderly. He is credited with founding the Diocesan-Parish Share Campaign as a way to raise money for the diocese.
He believed in the roll of laity in the church, and served on the National Conference of Bishop's Laity Committee and as a member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Parish Renewal.
Ottenweller left his mark not only on Eastern Ohio, but the northwestern corner of the state as well, working to help improve the lives of migrant farm workers in the Toledo area from the time he was ordained as a priest on June 19, 1943. His efforts included encouraging young priests to learn Spanish so they could provide for the spiritual needs of those workers.
He will be forever remembered as a man of deep faith, a man who in the words in Monforton, "stressed the need to reach out to the disenfranchised and outcast in our society."
Ottenweller's efforts helped to improve the lives of many, and he will be missed.