John E. Rotelle, O.S.A.

1939 – 2002 (September 1)

John Edward Rotelle, son of Mariano Rotelle and Esther Veneziale, was born on January 18, 1939, in Ambler, Pa. He 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, New York. 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. He continued his studies in liturgy at Instituto San Anselmo in Rome.

While a student in Rome, during the Second Vatican Council and later, Father Rotelle participated in 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 he continued working in those areas, translating and publishing texts from the Church Fathers, especially Saint Augustine, and writers who are a part of Augustinian heritage. In 1969, Father Rotelle became director of students at the International College of Saint Monica. From 1970 to 1974, he was Director of Students at Augustinian College, Washington, DC. In 1977 he took up residence at Austin Friars Hall, in Washington, where he served as second counselor and Sacristan. In 1982, he was appointed Province Director of Communications and a member of the Augustinian Community in Overbrook, Pa. The following year he moved to Saint Thomas Monastery, Villanova, where he lived until 1985, when he became a member of Saint John Stone Friary, Villanova. He became Director of Augustinian Press, Spiritual Director of the Augustinian Seculars, and from 1994 until his death in 2002, secretary to the provincial.

Father Rotelle was a member of an international network of translators and publishers of Liturgical and Patristic works and worked to introduced the early Church writers to a worldwide English-speaking audience. Though his energies were focused on Church related publications, he always had a strong desire to serve in the Peruvian Missions and in higher education. He was proficient in Italian, French, German, Spanish and possessed a reading ability of Dutch. 

Father Rotelle died on September 1, 2002, of cancer. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at Villanova on September 4, 2002, followed by interment in his family’s plot at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania.