Rev. Frantisek Katrinak, Father Francis, was ordained in the Archdiocese of Kosice, Slovakia.
He served in a variety of ministries, including rector of the archdiocesan seminary there. He recently served as pastor of the parish in Cana, Slovakia. He visited the United States several times before his placement at St. Mary's and is fluent in English. His archbishop has granted him permission to serve in the United States for at least five years. The people of St. Mary's are thankful for his willingness to leave his home and join their parish family.
WARREN — Having served at churches in Slovakia for the past 23 years, the Rev. Frantisek Katrinak came to the United States this summer at the request of the Diocese of Youngstown to serve at St. Mary’s Parish.
Katrinak, who started here in August, said while he has been in the United States a few times in the 1990s, this will be the first U.S. church he will be pastoring.
The priest fills the opening caused by the March death of the Rev. Bernard Schmalzried, who had served as pastor of St. Mary’s since 1984.
Katrinak said he would have started sooner but he had to wait for his visa, which is good for five years.
“There are not that many priests in this area, and the Diocese of Youngstown needed me. Many of the people serving in this area and in the Cleveland area have roots in Slovakia,” Katrinak said.
He said the diocese was asking for help in providing priests for area parishes. The Rev. Peter Haledej started recently as pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Warren.
Katrinak was ordained in 1996.
Katrinak said Monsignor Robert Siffrin, general vicar of Youngstown, was looking for priests from Slovakia,
“I met him (Siffrin) 10 years ago. When I finished my work in seminary he asked if I would come to America to help,” Katrinak said.
Katrinak arrived this summer and met with Diocese officials.
The church has seen different priests filling in since Schmalzried’s death.
“This will be something new for me. I feel I can do good being here,” Katrinak said.
He said he was impressed with St. Mary’s historic building.
“I am thankful for the parishioners for supporting me and the work many of them do here to make this place beautiful,” Katrinak said.
He said he is getting used to the different culture in the United States and said he is working to improve on his English.
Katrinak first visited the United States in 1992, coming to Pennsylvania after studying in Poland.
Since he was a boy, Katrinak said he always wanted to be a priest and started as an altar boy.
“I am happy that I became a pastor. I will work to make this congregation stronger. I will help people here on their journey to do what God wants them to do. I want to make that journey successful and help people achieve their needs,” he said.
Katrinak said, “As a church it is important for the congregation to come together in prayer. Our purpose is to be with God,”
Sister Adele Vecchione said the staff and parishoners were very welcoming to Katrinak and look forward to him serving the parish.