Father Gilbert J. De Ritis, MM

Born: February 20, 1927
Ordained: June 12, 1954
Died: November 20, 2014

Father Gilbert J. De Ritis died on November 20, 2014 at Mission St. Teresa’s, Maryknoll, New York. He was 87 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 60 years.

Gilbert John De Ritis was born on February 20, 1927, in Rochester, New York, son of Vincent and Elvera Porreca De Ritis. He had six brothers (three of whom were killed during World War II), and three sisters, one of whom was Sister Ann Vincent, SSJ, Nazareth Convent, Rochester, New York.  He attended St. Augustine Grade School; two years of high school at Aquinas Institute, and four years at St. Andrew Preparatory Seminary, Rochester, New York.  He entered Maryknoll Seminary in Ossining, New York, in September 1947 and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and his Master of Religious Education degree in 1954.  He was ordained a Maryknoll priest in the Annunciation Chapel at the Maryknoll Sisters Motherhouse on June 12, 1954.

Following ordination Father De Ritis was assigned to the Maryknoll Mission in the Pando Vicariate, Bolivia.  In his first year of language studies he also served as an Assistant Pastor in the Guayaramerin Parish, Bolivia.  During his three years there he suffered a great deal from the excessive heat of the Bolivian jungle.  In May of 1957 he was transferred to the Maryknoll Mission Region in Peru for health reasons.  He served as Assistant Pastor in San Juan Parish in Puno for seven years.  In July 1964 he was appointed Pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Arequipa where he built a grade school and a high school.  In October of 1968 he was transferred as Assistant Pastor to Santa Rosa Parish in Lima and was later named Pastor of the same parish until his return to the United States in 1978.  In all his assignments he carried on his ministry with initiative and with a good sense of responsibility and organization.

After 23 years in South America, Father De Ritis, while home on furlough, was assigned to the Development Department.  He served a year and a half in the Development House in Houston, Texas, and for a year and a half he was the Director of the Development House in Buffalo, New York.  He adjusted well to the nomadic life of a developer and found the work rewarding.

On October 1, 1981 Father De Ritis was assigned to the Maryknoll Mission Region in Chile.  He served as an Assistant Pastor of Asuncion Parish in Talcahuano for five years.  During a sabbatical year, he attended the Society of the Divine Word Theological Renewal Program in Nemi, Italy from August to December 1986.

Upon his return from Nemi, Father De Ritis was assigned to the Maryknoll Mission Region in Hawaii.  He was appointed Assistant Pastor of St. Joseph Church in Hilo, Hawaii where he served for three years.  In 1990 he was appointed Pastor of Annunciation Parish in Kamuela, Hawaii.

Father De Ritis retired in July 1994 and took up residence in Los Altos, California.  Here he developed a well-defined sense of color and light and became quite an accomplished landscape painter.  His works were shown in several exhibits in the local area.  In October 2009 he moved to Maryknoll, New York and in July 2013 to Mission St. Teresa.

Wake services were held at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 at St. Teresa’s. Father De Ritis’s family received condolences and prayers at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, December 4, 2014 in the Lady Chapel. Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated in Queen of Apostles Chapel on Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. Father John E. Keegan was Principal Celebrant and also homilist.  According to Father De Ritis’s wishes, he was cremated.  Father John E. Keegan presided at the placement of Father De Ritis’s cremains in the Columbarium at Maryknoll, New York.