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Rev. Msgr. John P. Ashton

Deceased: 2020-01-17


Seminary Graduation Year: 1956

CSM Graduation Year: 1966

The Rev. Monsignor John P. Ashton, 89, passed away Friday evening, Jan. 17, 2020, at his residence with his loving family by his side.

Msgr. Ashton was born April 3, 1930, in Youngstown, a son of John A. and Marguerite Kane Ashton.

He attended St. Edward Grade School, graduated from Ursuline High School in 1948, received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Athenaeum of Ohio, Cincinnati, in 1953, a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University, Rome, Italy, in 1955, and a doctorate degree in philosophy from the University of St. Thomas (Angelicum), Rome, Italy in 1966.

Msgr. Ashton was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Youngstown by Bishop Martin J. O’Connor at the North American College, Rome, Italy, on Dec. 17, 1955, and was named a Prelate of Honor (Monsignor) by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II on March 23, 1997.

After studying in Rome for four years, he completed his theological studies and was ordained a priest. On his way home, Msgr. Ashton contracted polio and spent the next two months in a hospital in Spain and then another year at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital in Youngstown.

After leaving the hospital, he taught at Ursuline High School until 1965. While teaching at Ursuline, he wrote a textbook, “Living in the Modern World: The Social Teaching of the Popes,” published by the Christian Culture Press. He became an assistant professor of education in the School of Education at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He was also the chairman of the Department of Guidance and Counseling at Catholic University as well as the director of the summer school and the managing editor of the Catholic Educational Review.

After Msgr. Ashton returned to Youngstown, he was an adjunct professor at Youngstown State University in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies.

In 1968, he was named the principal of Ursuline High School. He was also the pastor of several parishes in the Diocese: St. Luke, Boardman; St. Joseph, Randolph; St. Nicholas, Struthers; and St. Lucy, Campbell. Msgr. Ashton retired from active ministry in October 2009.

In his years as a priest, he served in many places and in many different capacities. While in the Diocese of Youngstown, he was the chair of the Committee for the Continuing Education of Priests; the chair for the Theological Commission of the Second Synod of the Diocese; a member of the Medical-Moral Committee of St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital; dean of Mahoning County South Deanery; director of the Department of Evangelization; co-chair of the Bishop’s Annual Appeal; chair of the Capital Fund-raising Campaign Today’s Sacrifice, Tomorrow’s Church; and twice a member of the Presbyteral Council of Priests; and was a Diocesan Consultor.

For five years, during the pontificate of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, he was the director of the United States Bishop’s Office for Visitors to the Vatican and director of the graduate department of the North American College in Rome.

Msgr. Ashton was a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International. He was an avid fly fisherman, enjoyed archery and was an extra class (K8ISF) amateur radio operator.

His sister, Madelon Wallace Banks, passed away May 21, 1988; and his brother, Robert K. Ashton, passed away Jan. 26, 2018.

Msgr. Ashton is survived by nine nieces and nephews; and 14 grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Monsignor John P. Ashton Scholarship Fund at Ursuline High School, 750 Wick Ave., Youngstown, Ohio 44505, or the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 50 Warner Road, Hubbard, Ohio 44425.

Visitation will be 4 to 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, and 3 to 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, at St. Columba Cathedral, Youngstown. A Mass of Christian burial will follow visitation at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the cathedral. Interment will be in Calvary Cemetery, Youngstown.