Newman Center priest leaving after 12 years

Amanda Egut

The pitter-patter of four furry feet will no longer greet Newman Center visitors.

Abby, a Jack Russell terrier who belongs to the Rev. John Jerek, will be leaving the center July 1.

She will not be leaving alone. Abby is leaving with Jerek, who will start a new position in Youngstown in July.

Jerek, who has served at the church for 12 years, is being transferred so he can serve as a vicar to the bishop. As vicar, he will serve as the bishop’s right hand man and counselor.

“I will miss living in a university town,” Jerek said. “There are many generous, committed and creative people here.”

While at the Newman Center, Jerek contributed many new ideas and initiatives. Starting in 2000, the church began raising money to send to Chalatenango, El Salvador.

“We have raised over $25,000 and helped to build a church (in El Salvador),” said Mark Bartholet, a pastoral associate at the Newman Center. “This is Father Jerek’s legacy.”

While at the center, Jerek helped improve the physical aspects as well as the involvement of the

center in the community.

“Church is what people make it to be,” Jerek said. “The high involvement level makes a difference.”

Before coming to the Newman Center, Jerek taught at John F. Kennedy High School in Warren. While he said high school students are harder to work with than college students, he still enjoyed working as a teacher.

“No matter what level of education people have, they are still unique, with their own struggles and limits,” Jerek said.

Jerek graduated from Bowling Green State University with a degree in journalism. He later studied theology at Mount Saint Mary’s College in Cincinnati.

Taking Jerek’s position is the Rev. Chris Lyoni. Jerek says Lyoni is also an animal lover.

“Maybe he will bring a new mascot to the church,” Jerek said.

Contact religion reporter Amanda Egut at [email protected].