Bishop to ordain county dentist as deacon | Lifestyles

A Lawrence County dentist will be one of 17 men ordained Saturday by Bishop David A. Zubik as permanent deacons for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The Mass at which Dr. Joseph E. Ross will be ordained will take place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh. Seating is by ticket only, but the Mass will be livestreamed on the Diocesan YouTube channel and at

Ross is self-employed as a dentist in New Castle and a member of Holy Spirit Parish.

According to a diocese news release, he is single and has never been married. In the parish, he is a minister of Holy Communion, lector, substitute sacristan and altar server, member of the Worship Committee, and master of ceremonies for the parish festival.

Holy Spirit will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving recognizing Ross’ ordination at 2 p.m. Sunday in St. Vitus Church. A reception will follow in Fabbri Hall.

In addition to Ross, there are 12 deacon candidates from Allegheny County, and two each from Butler and Beaver counties. They come from a variety of careers and professional backgrounds, including higher education, engineering, medicine, accounting, banking, sales, dentistry, human resources, research, and other facets of business. Four of the men are converts to Catholicism.

These men have been engaged in the Diocesan Formation Program since 2017. Formation involves an intensive program of course work, personal and spiritual development, and practical experience in pastoral ministry. There are 95 permanent deacons in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The first class was ordained in 1974.

As ordained ministers of the Catholic Church, deacons assist priests at Mass, preach on occasion, and preside as needed at baptisms, weddings, funeral services, and other liturgical functions.

They also help provide pastoral care to people in hospitals and nursing homes, jails and prisons, and various other settings, sharing the faith by word and example. Permanent deacons coordinate what is typically part-time ministry with job and family responsibilities.

“These men have been deeply immersed in the diocesan Deacon Formation Program for more than five years,” Zubik said. “The process has helped them discern their vocation to this ministry, deepen their relationship with the Lord, and model their lives on Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve.”

Deacon Stephen J. Byers, director of the Deacon Formation Program and the Office for Deacon Personnel, added, “It has been a profound joy to walk with these men throughout the formation program and to witness their growth with the help and assistance of so many dedicated individuals who have been a part of their journey.”

The ministry of deacons dates back to the earliest days of the Church. The New Testament recounts that, when faced with the need for help in caring for the practical well-being of the faithful, the apostles prayed and designated certain men for special service to the community.


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