Father Joseph John Uvietta, SM, died Jan. 9 in San Antonio, Texas. He was 90 years old. Father Uvietta was a professed Marianist for 71 years.
Joseph Uvietta was born on March 30, 1931, in San Antonio, Texas. He was the oldest of five children of Joseph and Palmira (Gerodetti) Uvietta. He attended St. Agnes Grade School and Central Catholic High School, where he began considering the possibility of a religious vocation. After high school, he continued his Marianist education at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio.
In the summer of 1949, following his second year at St. Mary’s, he entered the Marynook Novitiate in Galesville, Wisconsin. He professed first vows on Aug. 15, 1950. He continued his university studies, earning a bachelor’s degree in history from St. Mary’s in 1952. Brother Uvietta began his teaching career at St. Mary’s High School in St. Louis from 1952-54. He professed perpetual vows on July 17, 1954, in Galesville. For the following two years, he taught at St. Joseph High School in Victoria, Texas, before attending seminary in Fribourg, Switzerland. Father Uvietta was ordained on July 16, 1961, in Fribourg. He remained there another year to complete theological studies before returning to the United States.
Father Uvietta was assigned to teach and serve as a chaplain at Cathedral High School in Belleville, Illinois, in the fall of 1962 but was there just six months before being called to minister on the postulate staff at Maryhurst in Kirkwood. He was named provincial assistant for religious life, a role he held from 1963-67. Father Uvietta was then assigned to Chaminade College Preparatory High School as a teacher and chaplain. He served there just one year before beginning a five-year term as provincial assistant for religious life at Marycliff in Glencoe (now Eureka). In 1973, Father Uvietta began ministry as novice master, remaining at Marycliff as the novitiate moved from Galesville to Glencoe. In 1977, Father Uvietta returned to high school ministry. He taught and was chaplain at St. John Vianney High School through 1984. He also served as community director during this time.
After a year’s sabbatical, Father Uvietta returned home to San Antonio and to his alma mater, Central Catholic. He served there as president from 1985-87. In 1987, he was appointed provincial of the St. Louis Province until 1995. Father Uvietta served many times as a delegate or secretary at provincial and general chapters from the mid-1960s forward. He also served on boards of directors for a number of Marianist high schools over the years.
Upon completing his service as provincial and using a second sabbatical for theological studies, Father Uvietta became director of the Marianist Retreat and Conference Center (MRCC), a role he held until 2005. He also led retreats for numerous religious orders of men and women across the country. Father Uvietta began living at the Cure of Ars community on the campus of St. John Vianney High School in 1999 while still serving at MRCC.
While Father Uvietta retired from MRCC in 2005, he continued a busy, active ministry. He served as chaplain for the Sisters of Mercy, regularly celebrated Masses at retirement centers, led retreats, was on the board of directors for both Vianney and Chaminade College Prep high schools and heard confessions and celebrated Mass at local parishes. He loved being part of the Vianney community and was named to its Hall of Fame in 2016.
Father Uvietta moved to the community at Chaminade College Prep in 2015, where he continued many of the same ministries. He moved to the Marianist Residence in 2018, coming full circle to his hometown of San Antonio. He wrote, “being part of this community gives me the opportunity to continue rejoicing in my life as a Marianist religious.”