Long-serving Deacon Charles Coutu dies

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After a long illness, Deacon Charles A. Coutu, 89, died in his home July 8. He was ordained a permanent deacon June 18, 1978, by former Arlington Bishop Thomas J. Welsh, and was appointed to serve as a permanent deacon at Holy Family Church in Dale City. In 1998, he was assigned to St. Peter Church in Washington where he served until 2013.

Deacon Coutu was born Oct. 3, 1927, in Central Falls, R.I. He attended Our Lady of Providence Seminary in Providence, R.I., where he earned a bachelor's in philosophy. He served in the U.S. Army for three years and married his wife, Yvette Dery, in 1953 in Central Falls. Deacon Coutu had a long career in insurance, including 25 years working for USAA.

In 1998, he was assigned to work as a defender of the bond in the Arlington diocesan tribunal. He served as member of the Diaconal Council 2003-05.

Deacon Coutu was buried in the St. Peter cemetery July 11, a cemetery he was instrumental in creating, according to Father Horace H. Grinnell, pastor of St. Peter. The deacon and his wife were involved in religious education at the parish. “They had a great impact on parish families,” said Father Grinnell.

Father Daniel S. Spychala, parochial vicar of St. Lawrence Church in Alexandria, has been Deacon Coutu’s spiritual director for 33 years. They met while both serving as deacons at Holy Family.

“He never said no of anything he was asked to do by the church,” said Father Spychala.

“He was a brilliant preacher. He worked very hard on his homilies, and I'd look them over and then ask him for a copy —  they were so well put together,” said Father Spychala. “He loved his ministry.”

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Little Sisters of the Poor, 4200 Harewood Road, NE , Washington.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017