Diocesan attorney named chancellor
Rita Ferko Joyce will fill position held by Dr. Arlene McGannon
Rita Ferko Joyce, general counsel, has been named chancellor of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, effective Aug. 1. She replaces Dr. Arlene McGannon, who had been associate general secretary and chancellor since 2004.
McGannon, who previously worked for the diocese as director of the Ministry for Aging and the We Are Remembered Ministry, is returning to Tampa, Fla., where she had been program director at the Franciscan Center. Her new position is director of mission services with the four St. Joseph's Hospitals in Tampa.
She said it has been an honor to work for then-Bishop Donald Wuerl, Bishop Paul Bradley and Bishop David Zubik.
"I had the privilege of working with exceptional people on the pastoral staff, who provide such dedicated service to the clergy and faithful of this diocese every day," McGannon said. "The only thing I can think of that could possibly have lured me away would be the opportunity to return to Florida."
Her new job "is a special chance to touch people's lives in a very different way, and I am excited about the good experiences that lie ahead. Pittsburgh will always have an irreplaceable place in my heart, as will the good people of this local church, where my faith was nurtured for so many years," McGannon said.
Her position as associate general secretary has not as yet been filled.
Joyce has worked for the diocese since 1995, starting in the diocesan Marriage Tribunal as case director. In 2002, she became director of the Office for Legal Services.
Through the years Joyce has continued her connection to the Tribunal by teaching classes to advocates, serving as collegiate judge and being a judge in the diocese's second instance/appeals court, which it operates for the Archdiocese of Miami.
"In my everyday work I provide legal counsel to the bishop and the senior staff of the diocese on a variety of issues," she said.
Joyce serves on several diocesan boards, including Bishop Canevin High School, Serra Catholic High School, St. Anthony School Programs and the Pittsburgh Catholic, which she currently serves as chairwoman. She previously worked on the Catholic Cemeteries Association board.
"I also work with several non-diocesan boards of directors such as the Vincentian Charitable Foundation, where I am a member; Sisters Place (as an emeritus board member), and the Canon Law Society of America, where I am in the second of a three-year term, first as vice president, currently as president and next year as past president," she said.
A product of Catholic education from elementary to graduate school, Joyce holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Duquesne University, and a law degree from its law school. She also has a master's in theology from the University of Dayton and her canonical degree from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Leuven, Belgium.
She received the St. Thomas More Award from the local St. Thomas More Society in 2009. In 2011, she was recipient of the Cardinal Wright Award from the Bishop's Latin School Alumni Association, Distinguished Alumnae Award from Serra Catholic High School and was named as one of Oakland Catholic High School's Leading Ladies.
Joyce said she is honored to be named to the chancellor's position, following in the footsteps of canonists who have held the position before her -- Father Benedetto Vaghetto, Father Lawrence DiNardo, Capuchin Father Justin Der and Bishop Anthony Bosco -- as well as her two immediate predecessors, Mercy Sister Margaret Hannan and Dr. McGannon.
"I am grateful for Bishop Zubik's confidence in giving me this added responsibility. I will do everything possible to ensure that his trust is not misplaced. I am honored to serve in this capacity and in the other roles in which I have the privilege to serve in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, all in order to assist our bishop in his shepherding of this portion of the people of God. We are a 'Church Alive,' and it is exciting to be a part of this wonderful vision."