Alumni Profile: Fr. John Detisch (’80)


March 18, 2020

Father John Detisch graduated from Prep in 1980 and went on to become a Catholic priest in the Erie Diocese. He has been pastor at two parishes here in Erie, Sacred Heart and St. Jude. He is currently pastor of St. Jude parish on 6th and Peninsula.

He said that being a pastor is not just a job when addressing his career. “It is more of a way of life, not just an occupation.”

Fr. Detisch grew up right across the street from McDowell High School and said it was a 30-second walk to the intermediate building of the high school, but yet he still chose to attend Cathedral Prep. All his life, he had no desire to attend a public school. His family were active parishioners at Our Lady of Peace Church, not too far from his home across from McDowell, and so the choice to attend Prep was easy. However, cost was a problem. So Fr. Detisch paid for his entire high school tuition by working many jobs during his four-year high school career. 

Fr. Detisch’s favorite thing about attending Prep was the brotherhood. “You go in as you are, not trying to impress anyone,” he said.

Fr. Detisch still keeps in contact with many of his classmates, who became his best friends after they graduated. In fact, this year is their 40th class reunion, and Fr. Detisch is responsible for organizing the reunion.

Attending Prep was the main reason why Fr.Detisch chose to enter into the priesthood. “If I went to McDowell, there is no way that I would have become a priest,” he said.

By taking all honors and AP courses, Fr. Detisch said he was noticeably more prepared than anyone else in his class at the seminary. Not only the workload, but many influences that were at Prep during his time contributed to his decision to enter the seminary.

“I had amazing influences in my life, such as Fr. Przpierski and Fr. Patrick Engel that taught me what it was like to be a priest,” he said.

In fact, Fr. Przpierski taught their entire sophomore class how to write homilies. “My favorite part about being a priest is leading and preaching to everyone of the parish,” he said. 

Although being a priest might seem easy to the naked eye, there are many challenges that Fr. Detisch faces being a pastor. Along with having to manage much of the financial work and be in charge of any projects that are going on at the parish, he says there is something much more challenging, and that is being relevant to younger people. As younger people move further and further away from the faith, Fr. Detisch is doing his best to keep the young people in the church, but he cannot do it on his own. “The parents of these kids are not encouraging them in the faith, and that is also the problem.” 

Fr. Detisch is a proud Prep Rambler, and he has a few pieces of advice for the high school students attending Prep today. “Get off social media and start talking to each other,” he said.

Thanks to not having social media during his time at Prep, he says that friendships were much closer, and people become best friends with more people as they spend time with them. 

As for those who are discerning their vocational calling, whether it be to the single life, married life, or consecrated life, Fr. Detisch says not to rush that calling. “It might be too soon,” he said. “Be patient, and talk about it with many people. Communication is key.”

Not only does this apply for discerning the priesthood, which many people commonly think about when they hear the word “vocation,” but for one’s career choice as well. “Even when trying to pick a career, communication is key. Talk to people in that field, and always ask a lot of questions.” 

Fr. Detisch hopes to continue preaching to the people of St. Jude Parish for a long time, but he wants to be good role model for people outside his parish as well. All in all, he is a proud Prep graduate. He wishes nothing but the best for everyone at the school, and he will always be praying for the students of Cathedral Prep. 

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