Father Justin Withrow, O.S.B., a monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey, died suddenly and unexpectedly on February 3, 2016 as he was preparing to leave for his pastoral ministry duties as chaplain at Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg. He was born March 12, 1955 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He is a son of the late John Withrow and Margaret (Mahoney) Withrow. He is survived by two brothers, John Withrow, Jr., of Jacksonville, Florida, and Russell Withrow of Wernersville, Pennsylvania, and two sisters, Barbara (Withrow) El Jizi of Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Rosella (Withrow) McHale of Northampton, Pennsylvania.
He attended Sacred Heart School, Coopersburg, PA and graduated from the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission, British Columbia in 1974. He received a bachelor of arts degree in medieval history from Mount Angel College, St. Benedict, Oregon, in 1986, and attended Mount Angel Seminary from 1978 to 1981. He received a master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 1989.
Father Justin made simple profession of vows at Saint Vincent Archabbey on July 10, 1985, and solemn profession on July 11, 1988. He was ordained a priest on June 2, 1990 by Bishop Anthony G. Bosco of the Diocese of Greensburg. At Saint Vincent he served as assistant sacristan at the Archabbey Basilica (1985-1986); C.C.D. program and adult education coordinator at Saint Vincent Parish (1986-1989); assistant to the personnel director at Saint Vincent College (1987-1988); staff member of the Saint Vincent Retreat Program (1987-1990); research assistant to the Formation Program (1987); moderator of the youth group at Saint Boniface Parish (1988-1989) and as deacon at Saint Bruno’s Parish, South Greensburg (1989-1990). He served as parochial vicar at Saint Benedict Parish, Baltimore, Maryland (1990-1991); parochial vicar at Saint Mary Parish, St. Marys, Pennsylvania (1991-1994); and at Saint Gregory the Great Parish, Virginia Beach, Virginia (1994-1995). He served as chaplain at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg and Latrobe, from 1995 until the time of his death. He also served as chaplain at Jeannette District Memorial Hospital from 1995 until it closed in 2011. Father Justin was administrator pro tem of the former Saint Mary Parish, Forbes Road, and the former Saint Bede Parish, Bovard, from February 17, 2004 until August 2, 2006, and then returned to full-time hospital chaplain work.
“One of the many gifts which Father Justin had was his preaching skills. His homilies,” according to Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki, O.S.B., the archabbot of Saint Vincent, “were always well-prepared, interesting, challenging and meaningful. Father Justin spent most of his years of ministry serving as a hospital chaplain in several local hospitals. Many of those whom he served over the years as chaplain spoke of the kindness and compassion he extended in his ministry, not only to the patients but also to their families and friends. His kindness and compassion provided comfort and strength to many as they encountered the vulnerability of their particular health issues.”
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated by Archabbot Douglas Nowicki on Friday, February 5, 2016 at Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica followed by the Rite of Committal at Saint Vincent Cemetery. A Memorial Service will be celebrated by Father Prior Earl Henry, O.S.B., at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, February 13, at Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica. All are requested to go directly to the Archabbey Basilica for the Memorial Service.