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Archives Father Elliott ‘loved being a priest’

October 25, 2023

By Darcy Fargo

“He loved being a priest. He loved his ministry as a priest. He loved being with priests.”

That’s how Father Donald J. Manfred, pastor of St. Stephen’s Church in Croghan and St. Francis Solanus Church in Harrisville, described his friend, Father Joseph W. Elliott.

Father Elliott died on October 16, 2023, at St. Joseph’s Home in Ogdensburg, where he had been a resident. He was 78 years old.

Father Manfred said he became friends with Father Elliott when they were assigned to nearby parishes.

“We were together in a couple different places over the years,” Father Manfred said. “It’s not a big diocese. We all get to know each other. I think we first got to know each other when I was in North Lawrence, and he was in Hopkinton. All the priests in the area used to get together regularly.”

Later, the two worked together on the Permanent Diaconate program.

“He became very interested in the Permanent Diaconate program,” Father Manfred said. “I was the first director. When I was transferred to Tupper Lake, (Father Elliott) took over as director of Permanent Deacons. I kept working with the ordained deacons, and he did the formation part.”

Father Manfred said his friend, Father Elliott, initially appeared to have a “rough exterior at times.”

“He had polio when he was younger,” Father Manfred explained. “That affected some of his facial expressions and movement. And he had a voice that changed. Sometimes, he almost sounded like he was yelling. Once you got to know him, you’d know it was just that his voice was sometimes loud.”

Once people got to know Father Elliott, though, they found him to be warm and welcoming, Father Manfred said.
“He was very outgoing, and he loved to be with people,” he said. “He loved to play cards.”

Father Elliott was also known for his love of news and information.

“He also had a reputation for always wanting to know what was going on,” Father Manfred said. “He always had to find out. When it was time for transfers among priests, he always wanted to know who was going where, and he wanted to know before it was supposed to be announced. He kept the telephone line singing for years. He was constantly gathering information before the days of email and all of that. People would call him ‘Hoover,’ because he sucked up so much information.”

Father Manfred noted that Father Elliott ended his active ministry living with him at Sacred Heart in Massena, where Father Manfred was pastor at the time.

“He was a very devout person with the struggles and challenges he had over the years,” Father Manfred said. “He was deeply spiritual. It wasn’t put on or for show. I was fortunate at Sacred Heart in Massena. (Father Elliott) and I got along well. Father Mike Gaffney was at St. Mary’s (in Massena), and he’d come over three or four times a week for dinner. It was a happy house.”

Father Elliott’s complete obituary can be found in the box included with this story.


Mass of Christian Burial celebrated Oct. 23
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated for Father Joseph William Elliott at noon on October 23 at Sacred Heart Church in Massena. Bishop Terry R. LaValley, bishop of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, will serve as principal celebrant, and Father Donald J. Manfred will be the homilist. 

Calling hours will be at Phillips Memorial Home, 64 Andrews Street, Massena, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 21, and from 4 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, October 22. Vespers, evening prayer, will be prayed at the funeral home at the conclusion of calling hours on Sunday.

Father Mark R. Reilly, V.F., pastor of St. Peter’s Parish in Massena, will preside over the reception of the body at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, October 23, at Sacred Heart Church, Massena. Father Elliott’s body will lie in state until 11:30 a.m. 

A private burial will be at Calvary Cemetery in Massena. 

Father Elliott, 78, died late in the evening on October 16, 2023, at Saint Joseph’s Home in Ogdensburg, where he had been a resident. 

Born January 15, 1945, in Massena, he was the son of Joseph J. and Marion (Charette) Elliott. His parents predeceased him. 

He studied for the priesthood at Wadhams Hall in Ogdensburg and St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York. He was ordained at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Ogdensburg on May 22, 1971, by Bishop Stanislaus J. Brzana.

Father Elliott began his priesthood serving as parochial vicar at St. Joseph’s Church in West Chazy. He also served in that role at St. Augustine’s & St. Patrick’s churches in Peru, Church of the Immaculate Conception in Brownville, St. Elizabeth Seton Church in Dexter and All Saints Church in Chaumont, St. Mary’s Church in Canton, and St. Patrick’s Church in Watertown. 

Father Elliott became pastor of St. Cecelia’s Church in Adams in May of 1978. He also served as pastor in St. Michael’s Church in Parishville and Church of the Holy Cross in Hopkinton, St. Mary’s in Canton, the Roman Catholic Community of Brownville and Dexter, St. Alexander’s Church in Morrisonville and St. Joseph’s Church in Plattsburgh, and the Catholic Community of St. Philip of Jesus and St. Joseph in Willsboro. He then served for a brief time as parochial vicar at Church of the Sacred Heart and St. Lawrence in Massena.

In addition to his parish ministry, Father Elliott served as co-director and then director of the Permanent Diaconate Program for the Diocese of Ogdensburg. He also served as dean of the Clinton Deanery and on the Continuing Education of Clergy Committee.

Father Elliott retired from active ministry on July 1, 2012.

Father Elliott is survived by four siblings, Sister Suzanne Marie Elliott, Dennis Elliott, Mary Elliott Perry and Nancy (Elliott) Sampson.

In addition to his parents, Father Elliott was predeceased by a brother, Dr. Leland Elliott. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Father Elliott’s memory to Trinity Catholic School in Massena or St. Joseph’s Home in Ogdensburg.

Family and friends may share online condolences and memories at www.phillipsmemorial.com.

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