Fr. David John Ayotte peacefully passed to our dear Lord on Nov. 29, 2021. As most know, sharing “three stories” was a hallmark of Fr. Dave’s inspiring homilies. So, with a wink and a smile, like him, here are three Fr. Dave stories.
First Story: his life. Fr. Dave was born in Montreal, Canada, June 4, 1960, to his proud parents, John and Sheila Ayotte. Dave had 3 siblings including sisters Maureen and Lori and brother Rick. The Ayottes moved from Montreal to Los Angeles when Dave was a young boy. He had an insatiable thirst for learning and acquiring knowledge as evidenced later by his four Masters’ degrees, a doctorate in Systemic Theology and a deep passion for the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ. In short, he was brilliant. Fr. Dave is survived by his mother Sheila, sister Maureen, brother-in-law Bill, cousin Tracy and many other family members.
Second Story: his love. Dave was a high school teacher before discerning for the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He faithfully served 15 years as a diocesan priest and 14 years with the Jesuits. Whether teaching or preaching, Fr. Dave was intensely focused on sharing and imparting the love of his life, Jesus Christ, with everyone he encountered. As a university professor in both Rome and Nairobi, he taught missiology, pastoral theology, globalization and ecumenism. He trained lay missionaries to carry out God’s work throughout the world. Fr. Dave had a special affinity for those on the margins, and perhaps his favorite ministry was living among and serving the poor in the Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya. His more recent gifts included envisioning, developing and delivering FIRE, a four-month retreat of communal prayer and discernment at Holy Spirit Parish in San Jose. He also co-founded the Center for Ignatian Spirituality at St. Ignatius Parish in Sacramento, forever transforming the lives of people he instructed in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and developing them as lay leaders and spiritual companions to countless brothers and sisters. In his final year of life on earth, God gave him the remarkable gift of the St. Monica Parish community in Santa Monica, and what a year it was. Despite the horrible disease he battled so courageously, Fr. Dave further ignited the St. Monica community with an even more robust version of FIRE which not only spiritually strengthened 30 St. Monica leaders, but also produced a plethora of ideas and initiatives that will keep St. Monica Strong for decades to come.
Third Story: his legacy. Fr. Dave leaves a legacy marked, first and foremost, by his shining example as a missionary disciple of Jesus. At his core, he lived a life of prayer – listening and being in communication with the Lord until his final day on earth. He taught us by his encouragement and example. Fr. Dave has been an inspiration as a contemplative in action beyond his unshakeable faith: through his gifted spiritual direction; his service to the poor and marginalized; his witty sense of humor; and, most recently, his courage as he carried his cross of cancer. Not only did he not complain about his disease, Fr. Dave embraced it and openly shared it. He spoke of being deeply touched and lifted up by your round-the-clock prayers, countless cards and letters, gifts and heartfelt words of love and encouragement. And don’t think his work is done. In his final words to a dear friend, he assured us once he gets settled in heaven, he will find a way to send prompts, messages and instructions for us to carry on. So be on the lookout!
Fr. Dave fortified relationships, families, communities and, most importantly, our Church. In so beautifully following Jesus’ instructions, Dave tirelessly and selflessly gave all he had to give and invites us to do the same for one another.
The funeral Mass will be held at St. Monica Catholic Community, Santa Monica, CA: Thursday, Dec. 9, 11 a.m.
A vigil will be held at St. Monica, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 7 p.m. Fr. Dave asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions in his name can be made to Holy Cross Africa Ministry through St. Monica. Gifts can also be made online through St. Monica: https://stmonica.net/HCAM.
Dec. 2: Angelus News Obituary