I’m lending out my column to our new seminarians to allow them to introduce themselves to the readers of the Exponent. - Father Chris Luoni
I was not born in Youngstown, but I have called it home for the past 37 years, and it’s where my roots are. My parents grew up here. I have attended and been a member of Struthers St. Nicholas Church, now part of Christ Our Savior Parish, for most of my life here. It has been a real joy to be a part of the Christ Our Savior family.
I attended Youngstown State University and have worked several jobs. For the past 20 years I worked as a service tech for our family’s water treatment business with my father and my brother.
Following God’s call and entering the seminary has proven to be an enriching experience in many ways. I cherish the prayer life, which forms the structure for our entire day, and the opportunities to serve, as well as the experience of brotherhood that is fostered within the seminary community.
I especially like that I can attend a seminary that focuses on later vocations, or “Second Career” as they call it here. Many of the men here have been married and raised families, and they have been blessed with wonderful life experiences.
As circumstances in their lives changed, they felt themselves called to religious life. It has been a real honor and blessing to be able to meet them and share this experience with them.
My name is Garrett Guerrieri, 25, and I am the son of Tom and Marie Guerrieri. My father is a business consultant and my mother is a registered nurse. My sister, Alexis, who is four years younger than me, is studying business at Youngstown State University (YSU). My home parish is St. Charles Borromeo, Boardman.
After I graduated from Youngstown Cardinal Mooney High School in 2010, I studied for two years at John Carroll University near Cleveland before transferring to YSU. There, I earned bachelor’s degrees in history and Italian studies. From 2014 to 2016, I pursued graduate studies in history at YSU.
I worked at Youngstown State University as a teaching assistant in the foreign language department while I was working on my master’s in history. I taught elementary Italian courses and co-taught two intermediate courses during my time there. I also tutored students in Italian and Latin.
During the summer of 2015, I also translated a small portion of an Italian scholastic piece from the 1920s on Ethiopia for a professor in the history department. That same summer, for the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I translated excerpts of the biography and virtues of Mother Teresa Casini, the order’s founder, who was beatified in 2015.
Though the prospect of priestly vocation has been in my heart for a number of years, I began very seriously considering entering the seminary between 2014 and 2015. Besides some affirmations or suggestions from people and priests in the diocese, I felt closest to Christ in silence during certain parts of my discernment, such as at Eucharistic adoration, recitation of the Rosary, and while reading papal encyclicals and such spiritual literature as the diary of Sr. Faustina Kowalska and excerpts from the works of St. John Eudes (1601-1680). For me, the more I came to know Jesus, Mary, and the saints, the more I “fell in love” with God. The more I came to know Jesus, gradually, the stronger the call to the priesthood became.
I am originally from Pittsburgh but moved to Austintown when I was just five with the rest of my family. I have four brothers, all of whom are married, and God has blessed them all with children. So I am blessed to be able to spoil 11 nephews and nieces.
My home parish for the past 43 years has been St. Joseph Parish, Austintown. I received my bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religious studies from Youngstown State University in 2014, and my masters in pastoral studies from Loyola University New Orleans in 2016.
Before entering the seminary I had the opportunity to serve as the director of religious education for the wonderful people of Our Lady of the Lakes Parish, Lake Milton/North Jackson. I was also blessed to be involved with the religious education program and the youth ministry at my parish – along with serving as a Eucharistic minister, a lector, and a lay leader of prayer. I am also a member of the Knights of Columbus and have volunteered in prison ministry.
I am thrilled to be in the seminary because I have the opportunity to become closer to Christ while learning how to better use my gifts to serve God’s people.
I’m a parishioner of Youngstown Our Lady of Sorrows Parish and its SS. Cyril and Methodious Church. I’m the youngest son of Tom and Janice Rovnak, and I have two brothers – Tommy (Melissa) of Painesville and Robert of Youngstown – and one sister, Christine (Nick) of Lake Milton, as well as seven nieces and nephews.
I attended St. Matthias School and Lowellville High School before earning a business degree from the Williamson College of Business at Youngstown State University in 2010. After college, I worked at Simon Roofing & Sheet Metal, Boardman.
As to why I decided to pursue the priesthood formation program, I respond that if you would have asked me in sixth grade what I was going to be when I grew up, I would have told you a priest. Through high school I was going to go into one of the sciences and ended up graduating in business from college.
While I enjoyed working where I was, I always felt something pulling me back into Church. It took several conversations with my pastor and a lot of prayers, to finally discern that this is where God was leading me. The other men up here at St. Mary’s Seminary near Cleveland are fantastic, the food is great but most importantly I’m learning more and more of God’s love and mercy.
I am a proud native of Campbell, where I have lived all my life, and am blessed to be in the Youngstown Diocese. My family includes my amazing mother, Marcy, and my amazing father, Joseph Jr., who is now resting in Heaven. I have one brother, Joseph III, who is two years older than me. I was baptized at St. Elizabeth Parish in Campbell and belonged there until it closed.
Then my family and I switched to St. Joseph Parish in Campbell, which was merged with three other Campbell parishes into Christ the Good Shepherd Parish with our pastor Father Shawn Conoboy. I was involved with the youth group during my high school years. I am also an altar server, Eucharistic minister, lector, and am in the Holy Name Society there.
My educational background starts with the wonderful Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who run a preschool and kindergarten. For grade school, I went to St. Patrick School, Hubbard. My high school experience came from Ursuline High School. I was blessed to attend all these great Catholic schools. I was involved with soccer, golf, marching band, concert band, speech and debate, liturgy committee, Students of Stewardship, and more while at Ursuline.
I am so excited to finally be in the seminary! As a seminarian at the Pontifical College Josephinum, I have many opportunities to grow as a human, from obvious educational courses that I take toward my degree, to also being able to start every morning with Liturgy of the Hours and Mass. We end the evening with Liturgy of the Hours for evening prayer.
There is a great sense of fraternity here and I am blessed to be a part of it. There are many sports organized for us including “the Mudbowl,” a football game in which the seminarians in their first four years play against the seminarians in the second half of the program.