Home»Obits»Obituary: Father Stephen Tutas

Obituary: Father Stephen Tutas

Pinterest WhatsApp

The General Administration and the Province of the United States recommend to our fraternal prayers our dear brother, Stephen TUTAS, priest, of the Cupertino Marianist Community, who died in the service of the Blessed Virgin Mary on April 16, 2022, in Cupertino, California, USA, at the age of 95 with 77 years of religious profession. Father Steve was a giant in the Society of Mary. He was a man of quiet intelligence, steadfast hope and exceptional leadership abilities. He served as Superior General of the Society of Mary from 1971 to 1981. He was among the five Marianists instrumental in the creation of Chaminade University of Honolulu, and he served as president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men. He also was chair of the Transition Coordinating Committee, shepherding the consolidation of four American provinces into the Province of the United States in 2002.

Stephen Roch Tutas was born on December 18, 1926, in Hamilton, Ohio. He was one of two boys in the family of Albert and Teckla (Drobkiewicz) Tutas. Young Steve attended his parish school, St. Joseph Elementary, and went on to Hamilton Catholic High School, where he was impressed by the example of his Marianist teachers. By the time he completed his second year, he was confident of his vocation. Steve entered the postulate at Mount Saint John in Dayton, Ohio, at age 15, beginning formation while completing his high school studies. He then entered the novitiate at Beacon, New York, where he professed first vows a year later, on August 20, 1944. Brother Steve completed a bachelor’s degree in education at the University of Dayton in 1947, overlapping with a semester teaching at Purcell High School (now Purcell Marian) in Cincinnati, Ohio. June of 1947 found the young brother in Honolulu, Hawaii. He taught high school for two years at what was then called St. Louis College. He professed perpetual vows on June 20, 1948, in Honolulu, becoming a member of the Marianist Province of the Pacific when it was established that same year. Making another abrupt shift in cultures on his vocation journey, Brother Steve moved to Fribourg, Switzerland, in 1949 to attend the Marianist Seminary. He was ordained on July 12, 1953, in Fribourg and remained there to complete a licentiate in sacred theology degree (STL) at the University of Fribourg in 1954. Father Steve returned to Honolulu to serve as a teacher and chaplain at St. Louis College, which at that time was a “junior college,” offering two-year degrees. Working with four other Marianists, Father Steve transformed the institution into Chaminade College in 1955. He served as its acting president (1956 – 1957) and its dean (1957 – 1958). From 1958 to 1962, Father Steve served as director of the Marianist Community in Honolulu, a bustling collection of some 60 men, ages 19 to 90. He later wrote that the director of a Marianist community “multiplies himself by devoting his time and talent to bringing out the best in each member of the community.” In 1962, Father Steve was called back to Switzerland.

He served as Director of Apostolic Formation at the Marianist Seminary in Fribourg from 1962 to 1966, and as the seminary’s rector from 1966 to 1969. “I was a seminarian in Fribourg
from 1961 to 1965,” said Father Pat Tonry. “Father Steve was a beacon of hope, light and reason. His door was always open. He was a model and inspiration for Marianist priests.” During this time, Father Steve was in his mid-to late 30s; he was a young man to be holding such important roles in the Society. Father Steve returned to the States and to the Province of the Pacific in 1969. He served as the province’s Assistant for Religious Life in Cupertino, California, for the next two years. In a lifetime of achievement, Father Steve’s next ministry was his most noteworthy. He was elected Superior General of the Society of Mary and served two five-year terms in Rome, from 1971 to 1981. It was a busy decade, marked by progress in the Society. A key development during his term was the completion of the revision of the Marianist Rule of Life, the Society’s guiding governance document, in light of the renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council.

His administration also established that brothers – not just priests – could serve as provincials. In addition, he oversaw the creation of the Province of Meribah in New York, USA, in 1976. “He was a Superior General of hope,” said Father Quentin Hakenewerth. “I remember on several occasions, in the evaluation of an important gathering, he would say that he did not hear enough expression of hope. He said that hope motivates and strengthens.” The encouragement was important to Father Quentin, who later served as Superior General, himself (1991 – 1996). After a year’s sabbatical in Texas, Father Steve returned to Cupertino in 1982. There he served as director of the Marianist Formation Center through 1984. He remained at the center for the following five years (1985 – 1989) while serving as president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men. (CMSM represents leaders of Catholic male religious orders, monasteries, and societies of apostolic life in the United States, serving as a common voice for male religious.) In recognition of his service to the Church and to CMSM, Father Steve received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award from Pope John Paul II in 1989. In his early 70s and his fifth decade of ministry, Father Steve remained vital and active. At the request of the local bishop, he ministered as vicar for clergy in the Diocese of San Jose (1992 – 1997), attending to the ongoing spiritual formation and professional development of diocesan priests.

Overlapping with this commitment, Father Steve served three terms as director of the Villa Saint Joseph Community, a health care facility for aging Marianists (1994 – 2003). “I valued these men because I had known most of them in their prime. My mission was to help (them) realize they had much to contribute to the Province by the witness of their lives,” Father Steve wrote. In the late 1990s, Father Steve contributed greatly serving as chair of the Transition Coordinating Committee, shepherding the challenging process of consolidating four American provinces into the Province of the United States in 2002. In 2003, he returned to Hawaii, serving as parochial vicar at St. Anthony Parish, in Wailuku, Maui. He enjoyed parish life, and remained there through 2006, when, nearing age 80, he returned to Cupertino. Father Steve lent his accumulated knowledge and grace to a number of province committees and projects in his later years and was revered as a wisdom figure among U.S. Marianists. Brother Steve Glodek, provincial of the newly established Province of the United States, said he was privileged to have Father Steve serve on his provincial council from 2007 to 2010. “Steve was a humble, kind and sensitive counsellor. He was a holy man and a good, supportive friend,” said Brother Steve. “He insistently called us as brothers, and as provincial leaders, to go beyond what we thought we could do. He told us, ‘Do more; it’s Mary’s mission that we are about! She will give us the resources we need!’” Father Martin Solma called Father Steve “A Marianist to the core.” “Steve was filled with faith, common sense and pastoral wisdom,” Father Martin said, and he recalled the beloved priest’s oft-repeated mantra: “Look to the past with gratitude and to the future with hope and faith, and with confidence, live fully in the present.”

May he rest in peace.

Previous post

Live! Diaconate Ordination, April 23 at 11:00 a.m.

Next post

Easter isn't over yet. Here's when it officially ends