President's Hall of Fame
- 2019 President's Hall of Fame Inductees
- 2018 President's Hall of Fame Inductees
- 2017 President's Hall of Fame Inductees
- 2016 President's Hall of Fame Inductees
- 2015 President's Hall of Fame Inductees
- 2014 President's Hall of Fame Inductees
- 2013 President's Hall of Fame Inductees
- 2012 President's Hall of Fame Inductees
- 2011 President's Hall of Fame Inductees
- 2010 President's Hall of Fame Inductee
- President's Hall of Fame Prior to 2010
Mike Alexa '70 and Matt Clark '82
In March of 1952, Michael Alexa was the oldest of four boys born to Walter and Katherine (Kurty) Alexa. Growing up in Erie, Mike and siblings Marty (‘74), Matthew (‘75), and Mark had a typical childhood. They played neighborhood games, spent Sundays boating with family, and were altar servers at Church. Mike attended BSS and was the first ‘Alexa’ to make the transition to Cathedral Prep. It was seeing Prep football games, first hand, when he “just knew” that would be his high school.
At Prep, Mike achieved first and second honors, won the Wolves club scholarship, played football all four years, played in the band, and received the President’s scholarship for St. Francis College. One of his fondest memories was traveling to Hershey with twelve busloads of students to cheer on the basketball team his sophomore year.
After graduating from Prep in 1970, Mike continued his education at St. Francis College (now University) where he received his B.A. in Mathematics. Later, Mike earned his certificate in mathematics from Gannon University. He began his teaching career at Sacred Heart Grade School in St. Mary’s PA. He then made his way back to Erie to teach at Cathedral Center before eventually landing his 37-year career at Cathedral Prep where he remained until retirement in 2018.
In August of 1994, Mike’s life was forever changed when he met Betty Havican. They got married at St. Peter’s Cathedral and capped off their perfect day with a Medieval reception. Mike says, “She is my soul-mate who showed me by example how to teach, encourage, love, and serve others.” Together, they support and believe in the principles of a faith-based education provided by Prep and Villa and believe that no child should be deprived of the education of their choice because of financial problems.
Mike loved his time at Prep as both a student and a teacher. “The examples set by the priests, sisters, and lay faculty, nurtured my Catholic faith and provided me with an excellent foundation to help me be successful in college and life after,” he said. Most especially, Len Cyterski, as a coach, teacher and counselor, left an unforgettable impression on Mike as a student. “He always inspired me to give my best in the classroom and on the field. His deep faith in the Lord taught me how to pray.”
The relationships from Prep have remained strong for Mike over the years, most especially with his Math Department colleagues Pat Czytuck and Bob Achille. There is also a unique bond extending to lifelong friend and fellow inductee, Kate Emling. They have decades of memories from boating and water skiing to Mike playing Santa Claus for her family; which he still does for the Prep Key Club.
Mike is happiest when he and Betty are working together; whether it be on art projects, random acts of kindness, or keeping stats for the Prep Football team. They have developed a deep level of personal faith by helping individuals that are experiencing hardships throughout the community. Even though Mike and Betty have no children of their own, Mike says, “My family has always been the kids I taught, especially at Prep. Being involved through teaching, coaching football and tennis, ski club, and intramurals have been some of the most fulfilling parts of my life.”
Thank you, Mike, for your commitment to Cathedral Prep. Congratulations on your induction into the prestigious Cathedral Preparatory School President’s Hall of Fame.
Matthew Clark is the youngest of eight children born to James and Lucille (Heidt) Clark. Matt, along with siblings, Mary Ellen (’71), Carol (’73), Martha (’74), James (’76), Edward (’77), Amy (’78), and John (’81), attended St. George School and were extremely involved in the Church throughout childhood.
Because Matt’s older siblings all attended Prep and Villa, he never considered any other school. “I knew Prep was a great educational opportunity and a place to strengthen my faith,” he said. Being the youngest of eight, the $875 Freshman year tuition was difficult on the family. Determined to cover the cost himself, he was always working at least two jobs throughout his time at Prep, causing his afterschool involvement to be minimal. Despite this, he and his best friends created one of his most memorable Prep stories by sneaking onto McDowell’s field and painting a ‘respectable’ “P” on the field.
After graduating from Prep in 1982, Matt took a job at (then) Humes Chrysler Plymouth Dodge. He worked there in the afternoons and evenings while taking early morning classes at Gannon University. Through the years, Matt worked his way up from a lot attendant to become Vice President/GM of (now) Humes Chrysler Jeep Dodge & Ram, and also, President of Humes Ford in Corry. He currently serves as the Treasurer and board member of the Pennsylvania Auto Association and President of the Erie County Automobile Association. His most recent accomplishment was being selected as TIME Magazine’s “Pennsylvania’s 2019 Dealer of the Year” and was also nominated for National Dealer of the Year. This award is one of the automobile industry’s most prestigious and highly coveted honors.
In 1991, Matt married Karen Rindfuss, and they had three children: Rachel, Elena, and Mitchell (’16). Matt and Karen are actively involved in the Erie community. They have hosted, chaired, and supported many fundraising campaigns including: Sisters of St. Joseph, Neighborhood Art House, and Crime Victims Center, to name a few. They have also substantially donated to local volunteer fire departments. Matt, his family, and his dealership go above and beyond to support local nonprofits and charities.
Matt says, “I owe a majority of my success to my Prep experience and I feel it is my responsibility to continue to help support and promote the Prep mission both personally and financially.” He was also heavily impacted by his parents, for their ongoing sacrifices, his brother, Ed, for being an inspiration and role model, and Bill Hilbert Sr. who helped Matt balance his social life, school, and jobs to become more successful.
Matt still keeps in touch with best friends, John Hilbert, Bob Corritore, John Rahner, John Zack, Joe Rodriguez, Mike Dill, Tom Luteran, Brian Mullen, Dave Yezzi, Steve Vitale, John Perkowski and Greg Clark, having weekly or monthly get-togethers and watching their kids grow up with the Prep and Villa experience.
In their spare time, Matt and Karen love to travel. They have been all around the world including places like: Ireland, Italy, Germany, Alaska, Napa Valley, Aruba and many more. Each trip they take, it never fails that Matt tries to hang his Prep flag from the highest possible point to show everyone around the world how proud he is to be a Cathedral Prep graduate.
Thank you, Matt, for your commitment to Cathedral Prep. Congratulations on your induction into the prestigious Cathedral Preparatory School President’s Hall of Fame.
Jim Mantyla `65 (posthumously) and Christopher J. Hagerty `75
The late James E. Mantyla was born on Christmas day in 1947, son of the late John and Ellen (Moore) Mantyla. Growing up in Erie with his brother John (’64), Jim had a typical childhood. He was a member of the Cub Scouts, was an altar server, and was involved in various school activities. Jim graduated from St. John’s Grade School in 1961 and made the natural transition to begin his journey at Cathedral Prep.
Jim, more commonly known as “Mando,” loved his time at Prep. Despite being the class clown, he was enrolled in Advanced Placement classes and excelled in his academics. He was also an active member of both the Spanish and Rifle clubs. He joined the football team his junior year before transitioning over to support his Prep brothers from the student body cheering section during his senior year.
In 1965, Mando graduated from Cathedral Prep and attended Gannon University where he was a member of the fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi. He continued his academic success graduating with both his Bachelor and Master’s degrees. After Gannon, Mando briefly left Erie to work for General Motors and then Stroh’s Brewing Company. In 1990, he moved back to Erie and began his career with Glenwood Beer Distributors, Inc. He would eventually work his way to serve as President and Owner of Glenwood Beer, a position he held for over 20 years.
Aside from his work life, Mando loved the outdoors. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and most especially, spending time at his cabin. He was also an avid car enthusiast with an impressive collection acquired over the years. As a boss and as a friend, Mando was well-liked and respected. Through all his success and good fortune, he remained humble throughout his entire life. When talking to John Stefanik, current President of Glenwood Beer, he said “Mando was just a good guy. He always had a ‘let’s try it’ attitude that was contagious both personally and professionally.”
Last April, Jim passed away unexpectedly. Although he is no longer with us, his legacy lives on within the Prep family and Erie community. In July of 2017, the James E. Mantyla Scholarship Fund was created in memory and honor of the alumnus and benefactor. This scholarship will be awarded on an annual basis to the families of young men who strongly desire a Prep education and who would not otherwise qualify for tuition assistance. Stefanik says, “This scholarship was formed because Jim strongly believed in the power of the brotherhood of Cathedral Prep.” He also adds, “It was his wish to help make it possible for the working ‘middle class’ to provide a top-notch education for their boys.”
In addition to his generosity to Cathedral Prep, Mando’s estate also left yearly donations to St. Peter Cathedral, Gannon University, and St. Mary’s Home of Erie, who is now renaming their Benevolent Care Fund in Jim’s honor to The James E. Mantyla Benevolent Care Fund. Stefanik says, “Jim always mentioned he wanted to give back. He was a local kid who had people help him and it was his time to help others, but what he is doing here is unbelievable.”
We are thankful for Jim's passion and commitment to Cathedral Prep and the Erie Community. Congratulations to the Mantyla family on Jim's induction into the prestigious Cathedral Preparatory School President's Hall of Fame.
Chris Hagerty was born as the second son of the five Hagerty boys. His parents, Jerry, class of 1948, and Adrianna, a twenty-seven-year Villa faculty member and part of the Villa Hall of Fame, also had sons Mike (’74), Adrian (’77), Sean (’79), and Boo (’80). From St. Peter’s through their years at Prep, Catholic education was the nucleus of the Hagerty family, and served as a foundation for their individual and collective success in life.
After graduating from Prep in 1975, Chris received his Bachelor degree in Education at Mercyhurst College. He then taught and coached at St. Peter’s, St. George, and St. Joe’s in Sharon before transitioning into the radio industry. In 1992, Chris founded Heart Broadcasting where he served as President and General Manager of news talk radio station Flagship 1330. Chris left the broadcast business in 2003 to return to his alma mater in hopes of lending his sales and marketing abilities to lead the school's advancement program.
In his role as Director of Advancement and later as Director of Strategic Initiatives at Prep and Villa, Chris turned a two-person office into a team of nine, grew the Annual Fund from $120,000 to over $1.5 million, and tripled the Prep and Villa Scholarship Fund to over $850,000 per year. Chris is also the founder of Legacy Gala, which has raised over $3 million since 2004. Additionally, Chris implemented and executed four, multi-million-dollar capital campaigns, which raised $3 million, $3.2 million, $14.2 million, and $20 million, respectively. All in all, Chris’ advancement team has raised over $72 million dollars during his tenure, which is a staggering amount for a Diocesan high school.
In addition to helping improve the financial condition of Prep and Villa, Chris worked with Father Jabo and his team to initiate and complete the merger between Prep and Villa, make substantial renovations to both campuses, oversee the construction of the Prep and Villa Events Center, and create, develop, and open Mother Teresa Academy.
Chris is also a Senior Partner at Partners in Mission, the pre-eminent Catholic school consulting firm in America. Chris has helped schools all over the country raise millions of dollars and enroll more students by working with these schools to grow their advancement and enrollment management programs.
Through all his professional work, Chris counts his family as the most important part of his life. He and
his wife, Jennie, who is the Executive Director for the Mercy Center for Women, made it a priority to give their children, Dan (’06), Meghan (’08), Kevin (’10), and John (’18) the Prep and Villa experience. The latest addition to his family is granddaughter, Emilia Kathleen, who will continue the Hagerty legacy by becoming a member of the Villa Class of 2035!
Chris’ relationship with Prep, Villa, and now Mother Teresa Academy, hasn’t been just a job, but rather a vocation that allowed him to be part of a second family. “It has been the greatest professional privilege of my life to work with so many talented people while serving the mission of this amazing school. I count my years here as a gift from God that I will cherish forever,” he said.
Thank you, Chris, for your commitment to Cathedral Prep. Congratulations on your induction into the prestigious Cathedral Preparatory School President’s Hall of Fame.
Jack Freeman `72 and Rich Scolio `60
In November of 1954, Jack Freeman was born to James and Laura (Bundy) Freeman. Jack was the youngest of five children with Shirley (‘54), Jim (‘58), Tom (‘65), and Mary Pat all leading the way before him. Jack attended Sacred Heart School but finished his grade school years at St. Luke School.
For Jack, Prep was such an obvious choice. Aside from his brothers graduating from there and his father teaching Calculus classes, Prep demonstrated the core Catholic teachings and values in which he so strongly believed. Jack graduated top 5% in his class and earned the position of executive editor of The Rambler. His fondest memories include pep rallies when Mr. Cyterski would incite the students into a frenzy and then culminate it with ripping off his shirt.
Upon his Prep graduation in 1972, Jack continued his Catholic education at Gannon University. There, he graduated magna cum laude in 1976. He received his B.S. in Accounting and received the award for Excellence in Business Administration, graduating No. 1 from the Dahlkemper Business School.
In October of 1977, Jack married his high school sweetheart, Janice O’Hara (‘72) at Sacred Heart Church. Over the next few years, Laura (‘98), Sean (‘01) and Michael (‘04) were born.
Jack began his professional career as a CPA at PricewaterhouseCoopers and later became a principal in several accounting firms. In 1990, Jack joined Spectrum Control, Inc. as the CFO, Senior Vice President and a member of their Board of Directors. Then in 2000, he was nationally recognized in Forbes Magazine for helping Spectrum raise millions of dollars in a secondary stock offering. Later, they became a worldwide leader in custom electronic components with a value of over a quarter billion dollars. He was honored in 2011 by ringing the opening bell to the NASDAQ Stock Exchange.
During the tail end of this success, Jack was missing one big piece of his life – Jan, who in 2003, lost her battle with breast cancer. In addition to many others, Jan’s “Villa girls” helped Jack through this difficult time. He honored his late wife by creating the Jan O’Hara Freeman Scholarship Fund at Villa, starting the Jan Freeman Basketball Tournament at OLCS and helping his son, Michael, begin the CUREage Cup, with proceeds going to cancer-fighting charities.
Jack says, “Whatever modest success I’ve achieved in my life, I owe first to my parents and family and then to Cathedral Prep.” He was taught to strive for excellence in everything he did. “The lifelong principles and values that I learned from my parents, like honesty, integrity, hard work, and faith, were not only talked about at Prep, they were demonstrated by others and expected of you,” he said.
Jack retired in 2012 but still works as a part-time consultant in corporate finance and taxation. He is a member of the Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria Academy Board of Directors and also serves as the chair of the Facilities Committee. He enjoys his free time golfing and spending time with his 10 grandchildren.
Thank you, Jack, for your commitment to Cathedral Prep. Congratulations on your induction into the prestigious Cathedral Preparatory School President’s Hall of Fame.
In February of 1943, Richard Scolio was born to Roger and Angeline (Rossi) Scolio. Rich and older sister, Carol (‘57), grew up playing neighborhood sports, going to the beach, and enjoying Sunday dinners at their grandparents’ house. After attending Holy Rosary, it was an obvious transition to attend Cathedral Prep and continue his Catholic education.
Rich easily acclimated to the Prep culture. During his career as a Rambler, he was class treasurer for two years, involved in the senior class play and a three-sport athlete earning five varsity letters. Rich was well-known for his tenacity on the football field; he was 1st team All-City as a junior and repeated that honor his senior year. Rich was named co-captain, awarded with the Hassett Memorial Trophy, the Notre Dame Alumni Award and the Thom McAn Trophy for being the best football player in Erie.
Rich attended Xavier University on a full football scholarship and received his BSBA in 1964. Upon his college graduation, Rich joined the United States Marine Corps and attended Officer Candidate School in Quantico. In November of 1966, Lieutenant Scolio received orders to Vietnam where he served as an Infantry Platoon Commander. Rich was wounded twice during combat, receiving two Purples Hearts. After his injuries, he was sent back to the States for rehabilitation.
The summer before his deployment, Rich was introduced to Jan Murphy at a mutual friend’s wedding. They were wed in September of 1967 in the Chapel at the Bethesda Naval Hospital; the same medical center where Rich was undergoing treatment for his combat injuries. A few years later, they welcomed their son, Richard. He would later follow his father’s footsteps by also attending Xavier University.
Captain Scolio retired from the Marines in 1968 and soon began his career at Smith Barney. He managed offices in both Cleveland (1971-1987) and Baltimore (1987-2003) before retiring as Senior Vice President in 2010.
While in Baltimore, Rich was extremely active in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program. He mentored his little brother, Greg, for 10 years, and was honored to be the Best Man at Greg and Heather’s wedding. Greg enlisted in the Marines and is now a Staff Sargent with the 3rd Battalion/ 4th Marines, the same unit Rich served with in Vietnam.
Reflecting on his high school days, Rich says, “Prep taught me teamwork, loyalty, leadership and gave me a desire to succeed.” He has embodied these values by serving on both the Cathedral Prep Board of Directors and the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Board until 2014. Rich also had the privilege and honor of being inducted into the Cathedral Prep Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.
Prep’s influence still plays an active role in his everyday life. Rich has maintained friendships that have lasted almost 60 years including a book club comprised with many Prep grads. Rich, along with eight of his classmates, meet in Orlando each year for a week of golf. He is blessed with a wonderful daughter-in-law, Bridget, four beautiful granddaughters, and is excited to share this evening with his mother, who is 101 years old.
Thank you, Rich, for your commitment to Cathedral Prep. Congratulations on your induction into the prestigious Cathedral Preparatory School President’s Hall of Fame.
Hon. John J. Trucilla ` 78 and Owen J. McCormick
John Trucilla is the youngest child born to Elvin and Geraldine (Modica) Trucilla. Growing up on Erie’s lower West side, John was involved in sports, neighborhood games, and trips with his family. He was very close with his family, especially with his sister, Tina (Glowacki). John says, “The closeness of family and the work ethic they exhibited will never be forgotten.”
John attended St. Andrews School and was an altar server for Monsignor Gannon and Fr. Swoger. Through their influence, John knew he wanted to continue his Catholic education.
He will never forget the words of Fr. Dollinger during freshmen orientation: ‘You enter Prep as boys but you will leave as men.’ John immediately embraced the Prep culture. He was captain of Prep’s first hockey team, twice named team MVP and was a Lake Shore league all-star. He was selected to the PA All-State hockey team his junior year. In baseball, John was team captain and a two-time, unanimous, all-metro choice. He was also a two-year starter on the football team. John was honored his senior year when he received the Tyzynski Memorial Award as one of Prep’s outstanding multi-sport athletes.
In 1978, John graduated from Prep and attended the University of Dayton. He was a four-year starter on the Flyers Baseball team and two-year captain. In the summer of 1980, John declined an offer to play minor league baseball in order to maintain his college eligibility. In 1982, he received his B.A. in Political Science with concentrations in English and Philosophy. John received his J.D. Degree in 1985 from the University of Dayton School of Law.
On Holy Thursday 1986, John experienced “divine intervention” when he met Suzanne Uht. He knew instantly this was the woman of his dreams. They were married in 1988 and have six children, all graduating from Prep or Villa: John ‘10, Luke ‘11, Marielle ‘13, and triplets; Grace ‘15, Anne ‘15 and James ‘15.
John began his legal career as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Shad Connelly in 1986. He has worked as Assistant District Attorney for Erie County, Assistant United States Attorney, serving as Chief of Northwest PA from 1997-2001. He was chief federal prosecutor until his run for a seat on the Erie County Court of Common Pleas. He was elected in November 2001 and seated in January 2002. John has served as Administrative Judge of the Family Division and recently was unanimously selected to lead the bench as President Judge. He also works as an Adjunct Professor at Gannon University and Penn State Behrend. John is proud to have served the community in a variety of volunteer endeavors, some of which include Special Olympics, the St. Martin Center, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Barber Center.
John has remained athletically competitive having raced in national and regional triathlons, including several Ironman races, the Escape from Alcatraz, and running the Boston, NYC and Miami marathons.
When reflecting back on his days at Prep, John says, “The Prep brotherhood and bonded friendships, which extend to life well beyond graduation, distinguish Prep from other high schools.” John added, it is not only an honor, but an unforgettable memory to be inducted into the President’s Hall of Fame with lifelong friend, Owen McCormick.
“Prep changed my life forever,” John says. He cherishes the values and lessons that he learned at Prep, especially for enhancing his development in spirt mind and body. He continues to be “Loyal and True” to the Orange and Black.
Thank you, Judge Trucilla, for your commitment to Cathedral Prep and to the Erie Community. Congratulations on your induction into the prestigious Cathedral Preparatory School President’s Hall of Fame.
Owen J. McCormick is the second of eight children born to John J. McCormick and Jeanne Marie McDonald McCormick. When looking back on his childhood with his seven siblings, John, Mary Therese, Jerry, Jeanne Marie, Patrick, Matthew and Peter, Owen says, “We valued our time together playing sports from sun up to sun down and taking family trips to Notre Dame every year. It was enjoyable with such a large family; seven brothers and sisters and loving parents.”
Just like his older brother, John, Owen spent his high school years at St. John Kanty Prep. His fondest memories include being President of Student Council, hanging with close friends, and, most especially, playing for his varsity basketball team. He was selected team captain of the ‘76-‘77 team. That season, Owen led his team to the state semifinals, was named team MVP, and was a unanimous choice for 1st team all Crawford County.
Following his high school years, Owen continued his education at the University of Notre Dame and received a Bachelor of Arts in 1981. Owen returned home and worked at the family business, Joseph McCormick Construction Co., Inc. (JMCC). In 1985, he moved to Washington, D.C. and worked for the Doyle Company as a laborer, assistant engineer and finally, an assistant superintendent.
In 1988, he married Kimberly Nelson. A year later, the couple relocated back to Erie where Owen returned to work at JMCC serving as its Vice President. In 1990, Owen and Kim began a family of their own welcoming Owen, Jr. into the world. The next five years, Julia, Mary, Jerry and Patrick were born. All five children would graduate from Prep or Villa.
Raising a family in Erie gave Owen the opportunity to see his family business flourish in his home community. He would eventually work his way to the top to become the President/CEO of JMCC, a position he presently holds. Owen also showcases his leadership in the Erie community through his ownership of the Erie Bayhawks. This ownership began in 2007, and ever since then, Owen has been able to continue his love and passion for basketball.
The faith and education from a Catholic school have always been important to Owen. He says, “The biggest influence on my life has been my faith in God. I am thankful for my parents and all the people God has put in my life along the way who have enhanced my faith and trust in God.” Owen continued the tradition of providing a catholic education for his children. When his first born son attended Cathedral Prep, Owen fell in love with the spirit and passion of what it means to be a Rambler.
“My family attended Catholic schools, which nurtured our Faith and enabled us to achieve and to help others be the best they can be,” he says. To demonstrate this appreciation, Owen progressively became extremely involved in the Cathedral Prep community as well as other local organizations. Beyond his monetary giving, he currently sits on the Board of Directors for Prep and Villa, Erie Western Pennsylvania Port Authority, Mercyhurst University, the Boys and Girls Club of Erie, and the Greater Erie Industrial Development Corporation. He is also a lifelong parishioner at St. Peter’s Cathedral and a Knight of St. Patrick.
Thank you, Owen, for your commitment to Cathedral Prep and to the Erie Community. Congratulations on your induction into the prestigious Cathedral Preparatory School President’s Hall of Fame.
James Ertl '68 and Fr. John Detisch '80
A world traveler and leader in business, James Ertl was born in Erie to Joseph Ertl and Esther Weber. He grew up with two younger sisters, Barb and Wendy, and enjoyed typical childhood activities such as going on bike rides and going to the beach. Jim attended St. George and Our Lady of Peace before his memorable years at Cathedral Prep.
During his high school years, Jim worked at G.C. Murphy from 10thgrade until graduation. He did this not only to support himself through his high school years, but also to help him grow and mature. Thus began the first steps to his future success in business. The concept of working – to earn everything in life with zero entitlement – is something that was instilled in Jim by his mother at an early age.
After graduating from Cathedral Prep in 1968, Jim continued his education at Edinboro University. There, he received his B.S. and his M.S. in Education. Later, Jim earned another B.S. in Computer Science at Clarion University and an MBA at Gannon University.
Jim began his teaching career at Middle Township Public School in New Jersey. He then made his way to Assistant Principal at Paterson Catholic High School in New Jersey before moving back to Erie to become the Principal at St. Peters Cathedral Center. In order to utilize his MBA, Jim then entered the business world with a position as an Accountant at Joy Manufacturing.
During his time at Joy Manufacturing, Jim met Carol Vavrek, whom he married in 1995. She would turn out to be one of the most influential people in Jim’s life. The two began their life journey together in Erie where Jim accepted a position at LORD Corporation. Shortly after, Jim settled into a career at FMC Technologies, accepting various global assignments. Jim has traveled the world, with assignments in Houston, Saudi Arabia, China and France. After a fulfilling 22-year career at FMC Technologies, Jim recently retired as Vice President and General Manager. He and Carol split their time between Erie and Venice, Florida.
Reflecting fondly on his years at Cathedral Prep, Jim remembers the anxiety he was feeling before he received his acceptance letter – he immediately went to buy himself a Prep sweatshirt to “make it real.” His good memories include pep rallies and most especially Monsignor McDonald’s afternoon announcements. Jim says, “Prep provided a world class college preparatory education. But more importantly, it helped to lay the Christian foundation to become a man.” Jim acknowledges Prep as one of the biggest influences in his life. He says, “The four years were transformational. The instructors were extremely passionate and created an atmosphere unique just to Prep.”
Jim is truly grateful for his time at Cathedral Prep and says he will never be able to repay it for everything it’s done. “Prep gave me the tools necessary to compete in life, the discipline to see it through, the catholic precepts, the inspiration to challenge, and the moral compass to succeed.” To demonstrate his appreciation, Jim and his wife have focused on tuition assistance and capital expenditures, such as classrooms, the new media center and also an endowment fund for future students. Beyond the walls of Prep, Jim continues to pass on his passion for education and career development to four local organizations: Habitat for Humanity, Penn State Erie, the Behrend College Intern Program at FMC Technologies, the U.S. Brig Niagara, and the Central Tech Apprentice Program.
John Detisch was the youngest of four boys born to Jeanette Pascale and former Millcreek Supervisor, Arthur Detisch. John, along with his brothers Arthur, William and Scott, learned the importance of hard work and dedication at an early age. Throughout his childhood, life was centered on his family and his time at Our Lady of Peace School and Church.
Prior to his days as supervisor, his Dad opened up “The Art Detisch Bakery”, across from St. Julia’s Church. Every day, John and his brothers would work there and help their father’s business grow. John worked at the bakery, delivered papers and cut grass in order to save money for his Prep tuition. Even though the view from the front window of their home was McDowell Intermediate High School, the decision to attend Prep and receive a Catholic education was easy.
John embraced the Prep culture and immediately made a name for himself. He was Class Secretary his freshman and sophomore year, Class President his senior year and served as the manager for Prep’s first Basketball State Championship Team.
In 1980, John graduated from Prep and continued his education at Gannon University while also working at Isaac Baker & Sons. Because of the education he received at Prep, he was able to enter Gannon with 27 college credits, and graduated in three years with a B.A. in Psychology. The affiliation between Prep and Gannon made John’s tuition more affordable. This was extremely important because John paid every penny of both his Prep and Gannon educations. During his senior year at Gannon, he entered St. Mark Seminary. Bishop Michael J. Murphy then assigned him to St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe. In 1986, he received his Masters’ Degree in Divinity and completed seminary training in 1987. Finally on April 22, 1988, John was ordained into the priesthood.
Fr. Detisch has served as Parochial Vicar of St. John’s the Evangelist Church in Girard, Sacred Heart Church and Blessed Sacrament Church. In the years to follow, he served as the Pastor of St. Titus Church in Titusville, Immaculate Conception Church in Mageetown, Sacred Heart Church in Erie, and currently at St. Jude the Apostle Church. Father also serves on the Priest Personal Board.
The experience and education from Cathedral Prep, was the single greatest influence on Fr. Detisch’s life. He says “It was because of that experience that I am a priest today. Because of the presence of Monsignor Bill Biebel, the late Fr. Frank Przepierski, and most especially, the late Fr. Patrick Engel, I fostered a decision to become a priest during my years at Prep.”
Fr. Detisch’s late father, Art, was the most influential person in his life. He watched his father work tirelessly as a baker and for the citizens of Millcreek Township without ever complaining. He sacrificed so very much. He says, “I watched my father hold on tight to his values, his honesty, and his integrity and never give in.” Fr. Detisch’s father, along with his mother, were extremely influential on his faith.
As a former two-term President of Alumni, Fr. Detisch has and always will support Cathedral Prep. “I know there are countless other young men who will be impacted in their lives as much as I was at Prep,” he said. Fr. John is forever grateful for his years at Prep. His best friends were developed in the halls and classrooms at Cathedral Prep and they are inseparable to this very day.
Jack Bertges '68 and Matt Minnaugh '83
Jack Bertges was born in Erie, the only child of Cosma C. Russo and Jack J. Bertges. He attended Maryvale, St. George, and Our Lady of Peace schools for his early education and was involved in scouting, basketball and Little League during those years.
Monsignor Robert McDonald, Cathedral Prep Headmaster, was a longtime friend of the Bertges family, so it was only natural and expected that Jack would attend Prep for high school. Jack thoroughly enjoyed his time at Prep, forming friendships that have lasted a lifetime. Tim Allburn has been a friend since preschool days and Jack and AJ Cianflocco were good friends at Prep and roommates at college. Other Prep friends include Kevin Hansen, Mike Flanagan, Greg Holland, Jim Veihdeffer, George Blakeslee, Doug Dunbar, Bill Koehle, and many others.
Jack received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from John Carroll University and his MBA from Penn State. He worked in Pittsburgh and San Francisco for Mellon Bank for fourteen years before accepting a position with Creditanstalt, an Austrian bank. He has worked for New Resource Bank which supports “green" businesses for the past seven years.
Jack and his wife JoAnn will celebrate their 25th anniversary this summer. In their leisure time they enjoy bicycling and travelling and have been fortunate to travel to Europe, the Canadian Rockies, New Zealand, Australia, and Yosemite. Jack has also spent the last ten summers participating in an 85 mile biking expedition from San Francisco to the Russian River.
Jack has always been passionate about giving back to his community. While living in Pittsburgh he organized a golf outing that will be celebrating its 26th year and benefits three charities in the Pittsburgh area. He is currently the Board Chair of the Hanna Boys Center in Sonoma, California an organization he has been involved with for over a dozen years. Jack has also been on the board of the San Francisco Food Bank for four years and has organized a charity golf tournament for them for the last twenty years which has raised over $375,000 for the food bank.
Jack is very grateful for the many opportunities he has had, and the people that have helped shape his life. He says, “I think that my parents were my best life coaches. They together with my schooling helped me establish a work ethic that has paid off my entire life. Tom Karle gave me my first job at P.A. Meyers for $1.00 an hour, and he and Bill Flanagan taught me the skill of taking care of clients. BJ Lechner also led by example and provided me with friendship and early support of the Cathedral Prep-John Carroll scholarship."
Jack further explains, “My Prep education provided me with a moral compass, exposed me to a level of professionals, and made me realize the importance of maintaining a network of friends and treating others the way you want to be treated. I continue to support Cathedral Prep because I feel fortunate to have been able to attend such a high quality school for a very reasonable cost. Today the cost of a quality education is beyond the reach of many, and if my small dollars can assist in helping a student attend Prep, that is a good feeling."
Thank you Jack for your commitment to Cathedral Prep and to the communities that you have lived in. Congratulations on your induction into the prestigious Cathedral Preparatory School President's Hall of Fame.
Matt Minnaugh was born in Erie, son of Michael and Marlene Rieger Minnaugh. Matt and his brothers, Mark, Mike, and Martin enjoyed a typical Erie childhood filled with visits to the beach and extended family gatherings during the holidays. The Minnaugh boys all attended Our Lady's Christian grade school.
In 1979 Matt made the decision to attend Cathedral Prep. His older brother Mike was already having a great experience and his friends from OLC were making plans to enroll there. Matt was active in the Latin and Bowling clubs while at Prep, and was also a member of the National Honor Society. He forged lifelong friendships with classmates Mike Jefferys and Joe Kloecker, and cousins Fred and Jim Bird.
After graduation, Matt attended Gannon University where he received his degree in Accounting. His first job was as an auditor with Ernst & Whinney. He was the senior manager of the tax department by the time he left that firm. In November of 1995 he and his friend and coworker Chuck Knight teamed up with Jim Schaffner and founded Schaffner Knight & Minnaugh Company, P.C. Matt is very dedicated to his clients and is highly regarded in his industry.
Besides his work, Matt's other passion is golf. He has been known to say, “For me it's either tax season or golf season." Matt spends as much time as he can out on the links at the Kahkwa Club with friends from the “Paulie Patrol," but has also had the opportunity to visit courses all over the country. Some of his favorite golfing spots are in Las Vegas and Florida, and the annual Penn State golf trip with his high school friends is an experience not to be missed. Matt and his brothers also took the trip of a lifetime when they visited Ireland on a golf vacation.
Spending quality time with his family has always been important to Matt, and after their mother passed away the Minnaugh boys started a tradition with their father. They are all die-hard Cleveland Indians fans and have travelled every year to see them play in locations such as Wrigley Field, Comerica Park in Detroit, and Arizona for spring training.
Another facet of Matt's life is his devotion to his faith. Matt credits his parents and Prep for the Christian foundation they provided him with. He says, “My father instilled in me not only the value of pursuing a quality education, but staying active in the Catholic faith. My mother was key in raising me up in our faith and helped me learn the value of staying connected to family. I believe that Prep only added to this by providing fertile ground for spiritual growth." Matt's friends and family consider him to be a great faith role model and as such he has been blessed to be named godfather to his nieces Meagen and Molly, and his friends children, Zach Bird and Peter Jefferys.
When asked how a Prep education has influenced his life, Matt quickly answers, “Prep had a significant impact on preparing me well for the coursework at Gannon and my career. Prep produces a product worth supporting, and the school is an asset to the community. I support Prep because I believe the school is consistently able to deliver results with its commitment to its mission."
Thank you Matt for your commitment to Cathedral Prep and the Erie community. Congratulations on your induction into the prestigious Cathedral Preparatory School President's Hall of Fame.
John Hilbert '82 and Mike Scutella '78
John Hilbert was born in Erie, the middle son of William and Martha Wurst Hilbert. He and his siblings, Bill Jr., Kathie, and Joe shared a loving and nurturing traditional childhood. John had many interests growing up, including football, hunting, and motor sports. During this time he also developed a strong work ethic by helping with his parent's business endeavors.
Upon completion of grade school, John continued his education at Cathedral Prep. John's father and Uncle Tex Hilbert had graduated from Prep, and many of his friends were also headed to the hallowed halls. Key in his decision making process were the tradition, prestige, and opportunity that he knew came with a Prep education. John experienced a real camaraderie with many of his classmates. He formed many lasting friendships while at Prep, and continues to count many as good friends to this day.
In 1986 John graduated from Alliance College with a degree in Industrial Engineering. Having grown up in the family business, John knew he would continue his professional career at Reddog Industries. He held a wide variety of positions there over the years, from cleaning the floors as a kid, to president of the company in his adult years. John is currently the president of PHB Inc. one of the largest manufacturing companies in Erie County. As much as John enjoys running the company, he also relishes the time he spends at his property. Whether he's hunting, digging in the dirt, or snowmobiling, there is always an activity at hand to help him relax from the stresses of the day.
John recognizes that his parents greatly influenced his life. He acknowledges that his solid upbringing was layered with freedom, opportunity, and support and that it formed the framework for the success that he finds in his career and family life today. He counts his siblings, Bill, Kathie, and Joe as friends as well as brothers and sister, and has many fond memories of their family times together.
The inspirations in his life though are his wife and children. He and Nancy are grateful for their many blessings, and they take great pride and joy in watching their three children grow up. Sons John and Timothy attend Prep, John is a junior and Timothy is a sophomore. Daughter Olivia currently attends Our Lady's Christian School, and will follow in her mom's footsteps when she enters Villa Maria Academy in the fall of 2014.
John has served the community on various boards over the years, but his decades of philanthropy and involvement at his alma mater Cathedral Prep remain closest to his heart. Long before he had children of his own at Prep, John teamed up with Mike Mischler and created the successful Casino Night event, which at the time provided Prep with much needed revenue. When asked why he gives back, John states, “My Prep education influenced my life. It provided me with the work ethic, discipline, civility, and knowledge that allowed me to succeed in college and in my career." John continues his generous support because he feels that Prep continues to educate and send a well-prepared young man out into the world. John and his wife Nancy also support Villa Maria Academy so that the same opportunities exist there for young women as they do for the men of Prep.
Thank you John, for your commitment to Cathedral Prep and the Erie community. Congratulations on your induction into the prestigious Cathedral Preparatory School President's Hall of Fame.
Mike Scutella was born in Warren, Pennsylvania the youngest child of Joseph and Mary Lorenzo Scutella. The family moved to Erie during his childhood and made a home on Erie's eastside. Growing up Mike had the typical experiences of youth. He served as an altar boy, played with neighborhood friends, and took music lessons. As teens, Mike and his brothers, Steve and Rick, formed a wedding band, and were cleverly named the “Scutella Brothers."
In 1974, Mike followed his brother Rick into the halls of Cathedral Prep. During his high school years he was a member of the Chemistry, Latin, and Chess clubs, worked after school as a courier for a downtown law firm, and enjoyed attending basketball games as part of the “6th Man" student cheering section. But the most memorable part of his Prep experience was math classes with Joann Maxwell Mullen. An excellent math student himself, Mike spent many hours tutoring classmates through the very rigorous courses taught by the notorious Miss Maxwell. At graduation, he was awarded the Gold Key Math Award in honor of his aptitude in this area.
Following high school, Mike enrolled in the Gannon - Hahnemann Program to pursue the dream he carried since second grade….to become a physician. The six year program included two full years of study at Gannon, followed by four years at Hahnemann Medical School in Philadelphia. After his schooling, Mike was accepted as a resident at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey, where he met his future wife Eileen Clancy. In 1988 he moved back to Erie and began his practice of obstetrics and gynecology. Currently Mike is a partner in OB/GYN Associates of Erie. He was instrumental in the UPMC Hamot Women's Hospital becoming a reality and serves as their Medical Director.
Mike and his wife Eileen are the proud parents of three children. Oldest son Michael graduated from Prep in 2012 and is a Neuroscience major at the University of Pittsburgh. Twins Lauren and Daniel attend St. Peter's Cathedral School, and will be members of the Class of 2017 at Villa and Prep, respectively. In his leisure time, Mike enjoys cooking, golfing, skiing, and travelling with his family. Favorite vacation spots include Sanibel Island, New York City, Italy, and Snowbird Utah.
When asked about his commitment to Prep, Mike reflects, “Sharing in my son Michael's four years at Prep, helping with his math homework, and watching him participate in water polo and swim meets solidified my already strong connection with Prep. I support Prep and Villa so that other students can benefit from the same excellent education my son Michael and I received, and that my children Lauren and Daniel will receive over the next four years." Mike is grateful for his close circle of friends that include former classmates as well as Prep brothers from other classes. He feels blessed to have had the honor of delivering many of their children and caring for their family members.
Mike continues, “My overall experience at Prep has been a major part of who I am today. My education was outstanding in all subjects, but most especially in math and science. This foundation helped me achieve admittance into a six year college and medical school program. In my formative years, my Mother inspired me to develop a strong, Italian, Type A personality, but through the fourteen years of high school, college, medical school, and residency, there is no doubt that Joann Maxwell Mullen is the one teacher that had the most influence on me."
Thank you Mike, for your commitment to Cathedral Prep and the Erie community. Congratulations on your induction into the prestigious Cathedral Preparatory School President's Hall of Fame.
Fr. Raymond Hahn '66 and David C. Slomski '72
Fr. Ray Hahn was born in Erie on January 1 and graced the pages of the Erie Daily Times as the first baby born in 1948. He is the oldest child of Raymond W. and Ruthe Freeman Hahn, and has three siblings: Richard, Joseph and Marilyn. The Hahn family belonged to St. George Parish and Fr. Hahn and his brothers and sister attended grade school there. Fr. Hahn recalls growing up with a great sense of family togetherness. In the summer they would load up in the family car in the early morning hours and take off on a vacation. Holidays were spent with their large extended family.
There was no question that Fr. Hahn would select Cathedral Prep when it came time to choose a high school. His father had attended Prep, and his mom was a Villa graduate. That together with their deep faith ensured that the Hahn children would receive only the best Catholic education available. Fr. Hahn enjoyed his time at Prep, especially as a member of the Forensics and Debate Team. As a debater, he proudly qualified for the State and National Tournaments twice. Another high point came when he received a “B" in Calculus from Mr. James Freeman, his uncle, a notoriously tough math teacher. Fr. Hahn made some lifelong friends in high school and still keeps in touch with classmates, Hal Borkowski, Tom Brocki, John Roeback, and Joe Swiss.
Following graduation, Fr. Hahn began his journey to the priesthood at Gannon. After two years there, he moved on to St. Mary's Seminary College where he received his B.A. in Philosophy. He then studied at St. Mary's University School of Theology, earning his Master's in Divinity and Johns Hopkins University where he did graduate work in Social Studies. He then returned to Erie in 1973 for his deacon year and was assigned to the faculty at Cathedral Prep at that time.
Father Hahn remained as a full time faculty member for thirty-six years teaching sociology, economics, and theology. He took an active interest in rejuvenating the debate program during that time, and was awarded the “Fourth Diamond Key" by the National Forensic League for the accomplishments of his debate students. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Fr. Hahn was assigned to administrative positions during his tenure, including assistant headmaster, academic dean and acting headmaster. While at Prep, he was also assigned to parishes in the Diocese including Holy Trinity, St. Boniface, and St. John's.
In 2008 Fr. Hahn was re-assigned as Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish. He still remains active with the Debate program at Prep, assisting Dave Weston in preparing the Lincoln-Douglas debaters and travelling with the team to their tournaments.
When he manages to carve some time out of his busy schedule for himself, Fr. Hahn can be found aboard a Holland America cruise ship, filling in as chaplain for the line. His favorite cruises have been to Alaska and the Carribean.
When asked about influences in his life, Fr. Hahn has many. Of his high school years at Prep, Fr. Hahn says, “Prep taught me what was truly important about living and why God and faith matter." He supports Prep so that others can have the same opportunities he had. He has also established the Ray and Ruthe Hahn Scholarship, which assists two Mount Carmel graduates with tuition to Prep and Villa.
Several people also strongly influenced his life: Sr. Virginia Hoffman, German teacher and fellow forensics coach; Fr. Max Karg, theology teacher; Fr. Joe Finucane, Forensics coach and German teacher; Fr. Henry Krebs, assistant at St. George during his youth; Sr. Mary Mark Doubet, math and science teacher; and most importantly his parents. Fr. Hahn says of them all, “They taught me what a good person was."
And Fr. Hahn, we are certain that you too have been influential in the lives of many of your former students.
Dave Slomski was born in Erie, the second child of Carl A. and Joan Bell Slomski. Dave and his siblings, Bernard, Philip, and Lisa lived with their parents above the family business, the Slomski Funeral Home. Dave attended Holy Trinity Grade School, and remembers a care-free youth that was spent with neighborhood friends and family.
Dave's parents played a big part in his decision to attend Cathedral Prep. Devout Catholics, they felt very strongly that their children continue their secondary education at a Catholic school. Dave has never regretted his choice, and has many fond memories of his days at Prep including the legendary pep rallies, the highly exciting football and basketball games, and the tough but caring faculty. While at Prep, Dave took part in the Extemporaneous Speaking group of the Forensics team. He was also active with the Chemistry Club.
After graduation, Dave enrolled in the accounting program at the then Gannon College. He also worked in the mailroom for Security Peoples Trust during this time. He and his co-workers would cram their classes into a morning schedule, leaving them free to put in a full afternoon at the bank. They were treated as full-time employees there, and earned enough money to pay their way through college. This arrangement worked well for Dave as he was offered a job with Security Peoples after graduation from Gannon in 1976.
Throughout the next several years Dave held a variety of positions rising through the ranks as a loan collector, accountant, auditor, branch manager, vice president of small business lending and vice president of commercial lending with Security Peoples, and as it became a part of Pennbank, Integra Bank, and National City Bank. In 1999 he accepted a position with First National Bank and was named Vice President of Business Banking. He currently works as Senior Vice President and Manager of Business Banking for Marquette Savings Bank, a position he has held since moving there in 2009.
Dave in part credits his success in the business world not only to the values of hard work and dedication that Prep instills in its students, but also to the many friendships he has cultivated through his Prep connection. His current circle of friends includes Prep grads…they don't necessarily share the same graduation year, but they definitely share the bonds of brotherhood.
Dave has very close relationships with his siblings and their children. In addition to spending time with his family, they also enjoy vacationing together. Over the years they have traveled to Florida, Las Vegas, and Canada as well as minor league baseball and Steelers football games. They also enjoy spending time together at “Slobberfest", a fundraising effort that supports Bassett Hound Rescue, and have spent many summers along the shores of Lake Erie at Dohler's Cottages in North East.
When asked who the biggest influence is in his life, Dave quickly answers, “My parents. They were a fine example of the ability to balance hard work with family life. They were great role models of faith, family loyalty, and tradition. They taught me to enjoy life even while facing challenges. They were supportive of me throughout my life, always encouraging me to try my best and to be thankful for what I had."
Dave is very supportive of the Erie community and Cathedral Prep. He is a lifelong member of Holy Trinity Parish and is a board member of the Trinity Square Foundation. He served for 29 years as the treasurer for the Society of Holy Trinity, a social club that his grandfather helped to establish. Dave is also a member of the City of Erie Enterprise Zone Loan Review Committee, and on the board of the Erie Metropolitan Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. He currently serves as the Vice Chairman of the Prep and Villa Board of Directors, and has been active on the finance committee at Prep since 1994.
Joann Maxwell Mullen '57 and Fr. Tom Fialkowski '58
Joann Maxwell Mullen was born in Erie and grew up on Raspberry Street. The only daughter of Brewster and Edna Sullivan Maxwell, Joann describes her upbringing as “typical Catholic, in a blue collar family setting". She and her younger brother Richard walked to Sacred Heart School and were able to come home for lunch every day. After school she would play with neighborhood friends, riding bikes and playing childhood games. Joann was involved in typical extracurricular activities as well, including dance lessons and scouting. She completed the entire Girl Scout program, receiving the Ad Altare Dei Award, the highest honor in scouting at that time.
There was never any question that Joann would attend Villa Maria Academy for high school. She formed many new friendships there, and had good times both in and out of the classroom. Some of her most memorable moments at Villa were at the expense of the teachers. Joann remembers that all pranks were handled with just punishment and recalls having to scrub the walls with a toothbrush after one such incident! On a more positive note, Joann was a member of the National Honor Society, the forensics team, and the Basketball team. She was the editor of the school newspaper, and was named Queen of the Press Dance. Joann also worked after school at Loblaws to help pay her Villa tuition.
After graduation, Joann was employed by Erie Insurance Exchange, and took college classes on her lunch hour and after work. She enrolled at Gannon in the first year that it offered coed classes. She still remembers waiting outside her chemistry and physics classes for other female students to show up – no one ever did, and Joann remained the only female in her science and math classes.
In June of 1967, Joann applied for an opening in the Math department at Cathedral Prep. She was hired by Msgr. Robert McDonald, contingent upon her ability to finish her degree, which she did in 1969 She never intended to stay at Prep, but as she puts it, “Once you get to Prep it grows on you and gets into your blood, and it is very difficult to leave…there is something magical about this school."
In addition to being the first full-time female teacher that was not a religious sister, Joann was appointed the first female Assistant Headmaster by Msgr. John Hagerty. She also served as the first Principal of Prep when that position was created. Joann established the Cathedral Prep Scholar Program in conjunction with Gannon University, and arranged for her AP Calculus course to receive 4 college credits through the University of Pittsburgh. She also played an integral role in starting the laptop computer program at Prep.
Joann married her husband Bill in April of 1989. Not surprisingly, they were married in the Villa Chapel on 8th and Liberty Streets and their reception was held in the Prep Cafeteria.
Joann is a member of the Saint Vincent Health Center Board. She is past president of the Mathematics Council of Western PA, the Pennsylvania Council of Supervisors of Math, and the Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of Math. Additionally, she has received numerous mathematic recognitions and awards over the years. Joann credits Sr. Grace Marie, her first math teacher at Villa, with instilling in her a love and knowledge of mathematics.
Joann identifies her mother as the most important influence in her life. She describes her best memory as the relationship that she had with her. Joann says of her mother, “She was always there to help. She brought me up to be independent for which I am always grateful. She taught me lifetime skills."
Joann has also reached out and influenced the lives of thousands of young men during her 44 years as an educator at Cathedral Prep. One group in particular expressed their gratitude in icing on a cake, presented to Joann prior to graduation. It read, “To a teacher that taught us not only Trig and Calculus, but courage, determination, and a sense of brotherhood. You have been the backbone of Prep for years and will not be forgotten. Thanks for everything Mrs. Mullen…Love, Your Senior Class of 2003".
Fr. Tom Fialkowski was born in Erie, the youngest son of John and Marcella Zimmerman Fialkowski. He and his brother Jim attended Saint Stanislaus Grade School. He spent his free time as a child playing sandlot football and baseball at Wayne Street Park; fishing, boating and swimming at Presque Isle; working at the Eastside Boy's Club; and serving Mass at Saint Stan's Church.
Fr. Tom enrolled at Cathedral Prep as a sophomore transfer student at the encouragement of his parents and a parish priest. While at Prep, he formed lifelong friendships, received a first class education, and strengthened his commitment to the Catholic faith. Fr. Tom was involved with many extracurricular activities throughout his high school years. He was a diver with the swim team, ran the 440 for the track team, and worked on the Prep stage crew. When asked about his most memorable moment from high school, Fr. Tom recalls that although there were many, the most significant was attaining a major goal of receiving his Prep diploma from headmaster, Msgr. Robert McDonald.
Upon graduation, Fr. Tom continued his education at Gannon College. After two years he transferred to Christ the King Seminary and Saint Bonaventure University in Olean, New York. He then completed his studies at the Theological College Seminary and Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Fr. Tom would return to Erie every summer to work at Camp Note Dame as a Red Cross swimming and water safety instructor.
On May 16, 1966, Fr. Tom was ordained at Saint Peter Cathedral. He served as an Associate at Holy Trinity from 1966 to 1969, and Associate and Co-Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish from 1969 to 1973. During this time, he was also assigned to the staff at Cathedral Prep, as a member of the Social Studies faculty, and coach of the Swimming and Water Polo teams.
In 1973, he was reassigned to Blessed Sacrament Parish, first as Parochial Vicar and then Co-Pastor, and in 1988 was named Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish. Fr. Tom also served as a chaplain in the United States Army Reserves throughout these assignments, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2000, with 21 years of service. He remained at the Erie Veterans Hospital as the Catholic Chaplain until 2005.
In his retirement, Fr. Tom serves as the Bishop's Liaison for Diocesan Catholic Cemeteries. He enjoys travelling, especially to warmer climates where he pursues his love of fishing and boating.
When asked to identify the biggest influence in his life, Fr. Tom quickly states, “Aside from my parents, it was Monsignor Joseph Reszkowski, my parish priest from Saint Stan's. Fr. Joe was a kind, caring, and personable man of faith. He was a tremendous role model, not only for me, but for anyone who knew him."
Fr. Tom considers his years at Prep a life-changing experience. He says, “Had I not transferred to Prep, my vocational choice would probably have taken a drastically different direction. Prep helped me solidify personal values and goals for which I will be forever grateful."
Fr. Tom continues to support Prep in order to enable other young men to experience the same opportunities and Catholic education that he received.
Honorable Ernest J. DiSantis, Jr. '66
Ernest DiSantis, Jr. was born and raised in Erie, PA. He is the son of Mary Grace Letizia DiSantis, and the late Ernest J. DiSantis, Sr. Ernie grew up in the 1100 block of West 28thStreet, with three younger siblings, Bill, Ron and Jeanne. The DiSantis' belonged to St. Paul's parish. Ernie grew up in a loving, supportive family and was surrounded by a great bunch of kids. His early life revolved around neighborhood friends, sports and outdoor activities. He is still friends with people from his childhood neighborhood. Ironically, Ernie served on the bench with Judge Shad Connelly, who grew up across the street from him.
Ernie began his education in the Erie public schools. He attended Perry Elementary and Roosevelt Middle School. Quite unconventional at the time, Ernie decided to continue his education at Cathedral Prep. Although he had a great public school experience, he sensed that Prep offered something different.
Many of Ernie's favorite Prep memories are anecdotal, those small humorous events that occurred during the day. He can remember the silence that overtook the hallways when Headmaster Monsignor Robert McDonald happened to be walking down the hall the same time you were. His mere presence created order out of potential adolescent chaos. The oblates of St. Francis de Sales were very influential, especially Fathers George A. Walsh and James B. Donovan. Father Donovan taught Ernie English for two years and sparked a love of language and literature.
Ernie remains close friends with a number of his Prep Class of '66 classmates. In fact, a few of them, including Gary Lillis, Barry Masterson, Joe Bufalino and Jim Allburn, belong to a couple's book club that meets monthly. The group also plays golf together. The best man at Ernie's wedding, Attorney Denis DiLoreto, has been his close friend for almost 50 years. They met at Prep.
Reflecting on his Cathedral Prep education, Ernie says, “To understand the influence of my Prep experience, you have to appreciate that I am not, and never was, the most notable individual in any group". I was a good, but not outstanding student. At best, I was an average athlete. Nevertheless, my teachers, coaches, teammates and friends encouraged what God-given talents I had. I was complimented and constructively criticized as the situation demanded. Wrestling taught me to accept defeat without excuse. I left Prep with the attitude that if I worked hard and persevered, I could succeed, regardless of the odds. I learned that the measure of our success was not to be found in the positions we attained or the money we made, but rather the good that we contributed to our families and our community."
After graduating from Cathedral Prep, Ernie attended Gannon College, graduating in 1970 with a degree in Political Science. While in college, Ernie completed the United States Marine Corps Platoon Leadership Class, an Officer Candidate School. However, he chose to serve in the United States Army National Guard Reserves upon graduation, which allowed him to attend law school earlier. Ernie graduated with a law degree from the University of Akron in 1974, met his future wife Elizabeth (Betsy) Smith, and moved to Pittsburgh.
Ernie and Betsy married in 1975 and lived in Pittsburgh for 6 ½ years. They started their family in there, Ryan arriving in 1976, and Lauren a year and a half later. In 1980, they moved to Erie when Ernie took a position with the Pennsylvania Attorney General, Bureau of Consumer Protection. The DiSantis' completed their family a few years later with the birth of their son, Michael. At that time, Ernie joined the Erie County District Attorney's Office under the leadership of Prep alumnus Attorney Michael Veshecco, and then in 1989 joined the United States Attorney's Office. In 1995, Ernie was elected to the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County and was retained in 2005. Ernie has served in both the Trial and Family/Orphans' Court Divisions and currently serves as President Judge, part of a talented bench which includes two other Prep graduates, Judge Trucilla and Judge Daniel J. Brabender, Jr.
Ernie keeps very active in the local community. He was an adjunct professor of Criminal Law and Procedure at Gannon University. He has been involved in many organizations, such as the Crime Victims' Center, the House of Healing, St. George Parish and Youth Athletic Association, and the Erie County Bar Association. When his children were younger, he coached them in baseball, softball, and basketball. Ernie and Betsy also have enjoyed seeing the world through exciting trips with family and friends. Back home, when the weather warrants, Ernie can be found rolling his pull-cart down to his neighborhood “club" to sharpen his golf skills!
Ernie contributes his personal and professional success to the support of his family. His parents provided a loving and stable home. Ernie's wife, Betsy, has provided a tremendous amount of love and support throughout the years. Ernie commented, “Early in my career I went through several job changes, resulting in salary decreases and relocation from Betsy's family. Through it all, Betsy never complained. She deserves much of the credit for our three terrific children and for any success I may have achieved".
Ernie continues to support Cathedral Prep in a variety of ways. He has been involved as a member and president of the Prep Alumni Committee, and continues to support Cathedral Prep events and fundraisers. Ernie's sons share their Dad's alma mater, Ryan graduating from Prep in 'xx, and Michael in 'xx. Ernie was the first in his family to attend Prep and knows that financial sacrifices were made for him to do so. He has continued to support Prep to the extent he can so that other young men, especially those from modest economic backgrounds, can have the experience that he had.
- 2009 President's Hall of Fame
- 2007 President's Hall of Fame
- 2006 President's Hall of Fame
- 2004 President's Hall of Fame
- 2002 President's Hall of Fame
- 2001 President's Hall of Fame
- 2000 President's Hall of Fame
- 1998 President's Hall of Fame
- 1996 President's Hall of Fame
- 1995 President's Hall of Fame
- 1994 President's Hall of Fame
- 1993 President's Hall of Fame
- 1992 President's Hall of Fame