ALBERT H. OTTENWELLER was a man big in stature as well as the impact he had on the Diocese of Steubenville.
Ottenweller was installed as the second bishop of the Steubenville Diocese and became the spiritual leader of the 40,000 Eastern Ohio Catholics on Nov. 22, 1977. Prior to coming to Steubenville, he was Toledo’s first auxiliary bishop, serving from 1974-77.
Ottenweller died Sunday at the age of 96. Services were held today at Holy Name Cathedral in Steubenville with burial planned Saturday at St. Mary Catholic Cemetery in Leipsic.
The former bishop resided in Toledo since his retirement as bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville.
Ottenweller’s impact was felt locally as well as nationally during his tenure as bishop here in Eastern Ohio.
He championed the cause of Catholic education throughout the diocese.
In 1975, he made a proposal during a meeting with U.S. bishops that spawned a three-year national Project for Parish Renewal, aimed at helping parish priests, deacons, religious and lay leaders to collaborate more effectively and improve parish life.
Moreover, as head of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on the Laity from 1978 to 1981 he oversaw the writing of “Called and Gifted: American Catholic Laity 1980,” a statement by the bishops that strongly affirmed the renewal efforts of U.S. Catholics in the years since Vatican II.
Ottenweller guided his diocesan flock until 1992. He is be recalled as a man deep in spirit and rich in wisdom.
Ottenweller was a man strong in his convictions. That was reflected in 1989, when he and 46 other abortion protesters were arrested for a demonstration in front of a Youngstown abortion clinic. He remained in jail for six days.
Even after his retirement, Ottenweller maintained a close relationship with the diocese. Ottenweller was deeply committed to the people he served, forever earning him a special niche in the diocesan archives.