Dr. Joseph Duckett has an impressive set of credentials and all of the qualifications that are so typical of prior Cardinal Wright Award winners. His life has been a model of consistency both in service to the Church as well as to his family and community.
Dr. Duckett was a member of our original class of 1965. However, after two years, he discerned a different vocation and then transferred to Central Catholic High School.
In his two years at the Latin School however, he was always among the top of his class. As further proof of his prodigious skills, during the course of his career he rose to the position of Director of Environmental Engineering for the Pittsburgh Operation office of SNC-Lavalin, an international engineering and construction firm. He has over 40 years of experience in environmental regulation, research, engineering and management. Among his greatest personal achievements, however, was having a major hand in helping to turn around Pittsburgh's formerly-dreadful air quality…something that helps us all now breathe easier for his having done so.
He began his career in 1970 after receiving a Bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and a subsequent M.P.H. in Environmental Health from the University of Pittsburgh. While employed at the Allegheny County Health Department, Joe held the positions of Environmental Health Specialist, Manager of Special Programs/Training and Assistant Deputy Director of Environmental Health, a position which he held for two years. He was then awarded a Kellogg Fellowship to pursue a Ph.D. from Drexel University in Environmental Engineering and an M.B.A. in Operations Management.
Joe worked as a Senior Project Manager at the National Center for Resource Recovery and Schwartz & Connolly Consulting in Washington, D.C. until returning to Pittsburgh in 1981. He was the Senior Vice President of Schneider Engineers (later, SE Technologies) and the Vice President for Environmental Engineering at Eichleay Engineers before joining SNC-Lavalin in 2002. He has a special interest in air pollution control and believes that the Pittsburgh area has never received enough credit for the great improvement in air quality that has occurred here.
Dr. Joe Duckett and his two 'best buddies', Elinor, 2, and Joy JoEllen (Jo-Jo), 6 months. The Ducketts are expecting a third grandchild in August.
A past-president of the Engineers Society of Western Pennsylvania, in 2015, he was honored as their 'Metcalf Award' recipient. This is one of the most prestigious professional awards for members of the engineering profession. The Metcalf Award has been presented annually since 1963, and represents significant lifetime achievement in the engineering profession. A past chair of the Air and Waste Management Association's Allegheny Mountain Section, he was selected as an A&WMA Fellow. In 2007, he served as the general conference chair for A&WMS's international conference held in Pittsburgh, an event he will chair once again in 2017.
An appointed member and past chairman of Pennsylvania's Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee, he also serves on several other advisory committees and is an Adjunct Professor within Duquesne University's Environmental Science and Management Program and past Chairman of Pennsylvania's Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee.
Dr. Duckett has authored and presented more than 60 articles and chaired several hearings and conferences. He serves as a judge for a variety of high school science competitions to encourage increased interest in science, math, and engineering.
Joe and his wife of 45 years, JoEllen, have three grown daughters, Becky, Josie and Amelia and two grandchildren. He has served as a lector for 25 years at his home parish, St. Theresa in Perrysville while also working as a fry cook each year at their festival (though he readily admits that he really doesn't like doing, but does it anyway). In his 'spare time' his personal avocation has long been coaching high school hockey teams at first North Hills High School and now today at Pittsburgh's Westinghouse High School in Homewood in the Pittsburgh Ice League.
When asked what his Cardinal Wright selection meant to him Joe responded, "BLS was the most rigorous school I ever attended, so being chosen as a distinguished alum is certainly a great honor."
2016 John Cardinal Wright Award Winners
Very Rev. Joseph M. Mele, Ph.D.
Episcopal Vicar for Leadership Development
Director - Department for Post-Ordination Formation
Father Joseph M. Mele, V.E., PH.D., was named the episcopal vicar for leadership development of the Diocese of Pittsburgh on Sept. 11, 2015. This was an elevation of his previous position as secretary for leadership development and director of the Department for Post-Ordination Formation. As an episcopal vicar, Father Mele serves as a member of the Episcopal Council, which renders advice to the bishop on all matters related to pastoral ministry in the diocese. In his letter of appointment for this position, Bishop Zubik wrote, "Leadership Development is a cornerstone of the 'On Mission for The Church Alive!' diocesan project," and added, "I am highlighting the importance of the service you provide for current and future leaders of the diocese. Thank you for the vision which you bring to this all-encompassing responsibility."
A Pittsburgh native, Father Mele was educated at Swissvale public schools and St. Anselm High School. He graduated from St. Francis College and St. Francis Seminary in Loretto. He was ordained by Bishop Vincent Leonard on May 5, 1973.
His first assignment was as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Hopewell Township. Father Mele also was a parochial vicar at St. Catherine of Siena in Pittsburgh's Beechview neighborhood, St. Sebastian in Ross Township and St. Malachy in Kennedy Township. He previously was pastor at St. John Parish in Unity and at Christ the King Parish in Ambridge before it became Good Samaritan Parish. He served from 2001 to 2008 as pastor of St. Sebastian, and was dean of the East Suburban Deanery from 1996 to 1999. He previously was director of the diocesan Department for Clergy Personnel. He has been a member of the diocesan Priest Council and has been a member of the College of Consultors.
Father Mele received his master's from Duquesne University and his doctorate in philosophy in 2008. In addition, he received an honorary doctorate from St. Vincent Seminary in 2013.
He is the author of "The Sacred Conversation: The Art of Catholic Preaching and the New Evangelization," from Emmaus Road Publishing, 2013. A note on the book describes "why priests can't preach," and says, "Father Mele gives a first-rate analysis of the problem and a resolution to what it will take to form priests who can preach effectively to the church today."
Over the past year, Father Mele has conducted sessions on homiletics in the Archdiocese of Toronto, the Archdiocese of Edmonton and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
When asked what his Cardinal Wright selection meant to him, Father Joe responded:
"I am excited and happy to receive the Cardinal Wright Award as part of the ceremonies at this year's Annual Vocations Mass and Awards Dinner. Serving the Secretariat for Leadership Development and Evangelization, I have only to look at the alumni of the Bishop's Latin School for models of the kind of leaders we aspire to educate for the future. BLS alumni continue in whatever vocation God has given them, to bring the people for whom they work the principles of Christ in the Spirit of the New Evangelization. It is truly an honor to be their friend. I look forward to seeing everyone at this year's celebration."
Mr. Frank Balestrieri
Mr. Balestrieri has an impressive set of credentials as a lifelong, active member of several parishes in the Diocese; but most-impressively he has taken his lifelong commitment to first attending and then volunteering at retreats for over 25 years at the St Paul's Monastery to the next level: He has after nearly three decades of service, now become an Associate member of the Passionists order.
His life has been a model of consistency in both service to the Church and dependability in both his career and his marriage.
A longtime resident of West View, he has been married for over twenty years to his wife, Suzie. He worked his entire career as a Welfare Case Worker for Pennsylvania. The son of Catherine and the late Mario Balestrieri, he grew up attending Nativity of Our Lord Parish in the Perry North area. "My parents were both very religious," he commented recently. "My dad, Mario Balestrieri, didn't sit-out our religious upbringing. Along with my mother, my dad was always with us in Church every Sunday. Some of my earliest memories were sitting in the loft at Mary Immaculate Church watching him sing in the choir."
Frank Balestrieri was a 1973 graduate of North Catholic High School and then attended Point Park College, graduating in 1977 with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration.
In addition to his exemplary work with the Passionists, Mr. Balestrieri has an impressive set of accomplishments at the parish level as well: Worked many years volunteering at the Incarnation Church festival; A longtime usher at Incarnation; Led Stations of the Cross at Incarnation parish; A Eucharistic Minister at Incarnation and at Most Holy Name; Religious Education instructor for ten years at Incarnation parish; Volunteer 'Chapel Sitter' at St. Anthony's Chapel; Member of Men's Fellowship at Most Holy Name parish; Annual attendee of 'Gathering of Catholic Men'.
Mr. Balestrieri is currently rehabbing from his second serious back surgery in the last two years and is hoping to very soon be able to resume his busy schedule in service to his Church and the Passionist order. A non-alumni awardee, the board hopes you will agree that he certainly represents all of those qualities that are representative of the long line of worthy, prior, Cardinal Wright Award recipients.