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Rev. Thomas Jordan Ertle, O.P., 91, died on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018, at the home of his nieces in Sea Girt, N.J., following a lengthy illness. He was a member of the Order of Preachers (Dominican Friars) of the Province of St. Joseph and of the Dominican Community at Providence College.
Born Thomas Joseph Ertle in Jersey City, N.J., on Sept. 6, 1927, the second son of the late John Harry Ertle and Mae (Jennings) Ertle, he attended Sacred Heart Elementary School and St. Michael’s High School in Jersey City, graduating in 1946. A year later, he entered the pre-ecclesiastical program at Providence College; he would later receive a bachelor’s degree from PC in 1953. He entered the novitiate of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph at St. Rose Priory, Springfield, Ky., in 1949, receiving the religious name Jordan. He made his first profession of vows there on Sept. 15, 1950.
His philosophical studies took place at St. Rose Priory (1950-1951) and at St. Joseph’s Priory in Somerset, Ohio (1951-1953). He made his solemn profession of religious vows at the Priory of the Immaculate Conception/Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 15, 1953, as he began his theological studies there, receiving his bachelor’s degree in sacred theology three years later. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 8, 1956, at St. Dominic’s Church in Washington, D.C., by the Most. Rev. Edward Celestine Daly, O.P., Bishop of Des Moines, Iowa. He then spent another year studying in Washington.
Father Ertle’s first assignment was to St. Antoninus Priory in Newark, N.J., where he was assistant pastor (1957-1964) and director of St. Antoninus Parish School (1960-1964). After serving as prior and pastor of St. Dominic’s Priory in Youngstown, Ohio (1964-1970), he returned to St. Antoninus Priory, first as sub-prior and pastor for a year, then as prior and pastor for three years. From 1974-1979, while assigned to Sacred Heart Priory in Jersey City, N.J., he was a member of the Province of St. Joseph Preaching Band. In 1978, he earned a master’s degree in religious studies from PC.
From 1979 to 1984 Father Ertle served Providence College in various campus ministry positions, including from 1979 until 1982 as chaplain. He also was prior of St. Thomas Aquinas Priory (1981-1984) and member of the PC Corporation.
Father Ertle was then assigned to St. Vincent Ferrer Priory in New York City for the next nine years. From 1984 until 1988, he served as socius of the prior provincial and vicar provincial of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph. He then served as prior provincial from 1988 until 1993 also serving ex-officio as chair of the PC Corporation and vice-chancellor of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Father Ertle then served as chaplain of Molloy College in Rockville Centre, N.Y. (1993-1995) and as superior and pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Rectory in Zanesville, Ohio (1995-1998).
Returning to PC in 1998, Father Ertle again worked in a number of pastoral capacities, as assistant chaplain to the student athletes (1998-2001), acting chaplain (2000-2001), and assistant chaplain (2001-2015), when his health began to decline. Fluent in American Sign Language, Father Ertle spent years serving the local deaf community by celebrating a weekly signed Mass at St. Ann Church in Providence.
PC awarded Father Ertle an honorary Doctor of Sacred Theology degree in 1984. He was the recipient of the PC Alumni Association’s Bishop Harkins Award (1991) and the PC School of Continuing Education Spirit of Giving Award (2004). Other recognitions included an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Molloy College (1995) and a knighthood in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (2002).
Father Ertle was extraordinary in his humility, gentleness, kindness, and compassion. Always conforming himself to the Cross of Jesus, he was faithful and forceful in his preaching of Christ risen from the dead. He loved his family, his Dominican brothers, the Church, and PC’s students, faculty, and staff.
Father Ertle was pre-deceased by his parents and by his brother, J. Harry Ertle, who died on Sept. 13, 2018, and by the latter’s wife, Virginia C. Ertle. He is survived by his two nieces, Deirdre Anne Ertle and Nadine Ertle Sullivan, by the latter’s husband, Michael L. Sullivan, and by their son, John Ertle Sullivan.
Father Ertle’s body will be received into the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Priory of St. Thomas Aquinas at Providence College at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, 28 November 2018. Visitation will continue until 7:00 p.m., when the Office of the Dead will be celebrated. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated for him in St. Dominic Chapel at 11:15 a.m. on Thursday, 29 November 2018. He will then be laid to rest in the Dominican Friars’ Cemetery on the PC Campus.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Fr. Ertle’s memory may be sent to Providence College, Office of Institutional Advancement, One Cunningham Square, Providence, RI 02918, for the Rev. Thomas J. Ertle, O.P., Scholarship Fund.
Arrangements by the O’Brien Funeral Home in Wall, N.J., and by the Russell J. Boyle and Son Funeral Home, 331 Smith St., Providence.
Providence College, Office of Institutional Advancement, for the Rev. Thomas J. Ertle, O.P., Scholar
1 Cunningham Square, Providence RI 02918