It is with no small blend of sadness mixed with gratitude and joy that the Augustinian Province of St. Augustine in the West announces the death of our brother, Rev. Steven Ochoa O.S.A. On August 24th 2012 he died at Ojai California of complications of congestive heart failure and kidney failure.
Steve was born in Los Angeles, California on July 2, 1953 to Richard Ochoa, and Mary Moreno (Ochoa). His father and brother John predecease him. His mother and his brother Rick Ochoa and his sister Cindy Smith survive him.
Fr. Ochoa professed vows in the Order of St. Augustine on September 10, 1974. He graduated from Villanova University in 1977, obtained a Masters Degree from the Washington Theological Union in 1981 and was ordained a priest on May 7, 1983. From 1981-1987 Fr. Steve became a missionary in Peru. In 1988 he spent his first term of service at St. Thomas Aquinas church in Ojai. He returned to the Peruvian missions in the Diocese of Chulucanas from 1989 to 1992. In 1993 he suffered his first massive heart attack while assigned to Our Mother of Good Counsel Church in Los Angeles. As soon as he regained strength his love for the missions and particularly his love for the poor called him to return to the Peru where he served from 1994 to 1997. The next two years he served as the priest minister for Villa Nueva Apartments (low income housing) in San Ysidro California. In 1999 he was elected the prior provincial of the western province of St. Augustine. He held this position for eight years. It was during this time that he and a few other Augustinians pioneered a focus group called Augustinians in Hispanic Ministry. In recent years, Fr. Steve was a teacher at Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai. This was followed by three years as a parish priest at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ojai, the last two years serving as its pastor.
If there is one image of Fr. Steve that might stay etched in the minds of those who knew him, it most likely would be one in which he naturally displayed his love for the poor. Fr. Steve was not a person of demonstrative animation unless he was vividly retelling a story of him being touched by the faith and spiritual journeys of the poor in Peru. His eyes would glisten and his soft voice would bellow when the orphans of Hogar Infantil, an Augustinian-sponsored orphanage in Tijuana, surrounded him.
Fr. Steve loved his family and had a great loyalty to them, particularly his mother whom he would visit with regularity until his health forced him to stop. Perhaps it was his love for family that caused him to be a great supporter of youth activities. When he was a seminarian he was a member of the Big Brothers of America. In his priesthood he was a friendly presence to the young and old alike.
Physically, Fr. Steve was somewhat of an imposing presence, but imposing was certainly not the style of his leadership. Steve was quiet and generally focused on listening --- sometimes to the frustration of those who sought more immediate answers. His quiet style was a reflection of his spiritual interiority. Fr. Steve was a man of prayer and sought an inner peace only attained by a genuine relationship with God. He is now reaping the rewards of that sacred relationship.
A Rosary for Fr. Steve will be recited at St. Thomas Aquinas Church (185 St. Thomas Drive, Ojai) on Wednesday, August 29th at 4:00 in the afternoon. His funeral mass will begin at 6:00 p.m. in the same church. Light refreshments will be served in the hall after each liturgy. Fr. Steve will be buried on Thursday at 1:00 p.m., August 30th at the Augustinian plot at Holy Cross Cemetery in San Diego (4470 Hilltop Drive.)
Please remember in prayer Fr. Steve, his family, the Augustinian family, as well as all of his professional colleagues, parishioners and staff. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Augustinian Guild or the Hogar Infantil orphanage (1605 28th St., San Diego 92102,) or to St. Thomas Aquinas Church (185 St. Thomas Drive, Ojai, CA 93023.)
In Jesus Christ and St. Augustine,
Rev. Gregory Heidenblut, OSA