Rev. Stephen J. LaRosa, O.S.A. dies at 73

Courtesy of Mike Dolan, director of communications, Augustinian Friars, Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova

Rev. Stephen Joseph LaRosa, O.S.A., passed away on Oct. 12 at the age of 73.

LaRosa came to live at the St. Thomas monastery after a diagnosis of cancer and deterioration of health warranted greater monitoring of his health.

LaRosa was born on May 23, 1933 in Philadelphia, the son of Stephen LaRosa and Louise (DiSanto) LaRosa.

He had a brother, Anthony, and a sister, Dolores.

He attended public elementary and high schools in Philadelphia and then served in the military as a member of the Armed Ordnance Corps. He left the service in 1955 to attend St. Joseph’s College, where he obtained a B.S. in Psychology in 1959.

After entering the Augustinians’ Vice Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel as a novice in Sept. 1959, he then went to Villanova University for course work in Philosophy, and then to Augustinian College, Washington, D.C., for his theological studies, and was ordained to the priesthood on Jan. 30, 1965 at Saint Thomas of Villanova church.

His first assignment was in 1965 to Saint Augustine’s Preparatory School as teacher.

In 1967 he was appointed the school’s headmaster, and he held that office until 1982. During that time the school expanded from 90 to 230 students, and added a sports complex, chapel and more classrooms.

In 1982, LaRosa was elected as vice provincial of the Vice Province, and he continued his work at the school. In 1990, LaRosa was asked to become Provincial when Richard DeFulgentiis, the Provincial, died.

He held that office until 1995 when the Vice Province was merged with the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova.

He then returned to full-time work at the school as its President until 1998. In 1998 he became President Emeritus and Director of the Alumni Association, offices which he held until the time of his death.

Said the Rev. Donald F. Reilly, O.S.A.: “Steve was a friend to thousands. As an Augustinian, he had a talent for building communities, among students, teachers, parents, alumni, his Augustinian brothers. He will be greatly missed, but his spirit lives on in the many friendships he helped to forge.”