Crystal clear, clear as mud or somewhere in between – Martin J. Pitstick


Martin J. Pitstick is the son of Paul M. and Mary F. Pitstick of Fairborn, Ohio. He is a 1977 graduate of Carroll High School, Dayton, Ohio. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Franciscan University of Steubenville in French and theology in 1981, and also studied at the University of Dayton.

By Laura Keener – Assistant Editor, The Messanger, Covington Diocese

“For anyone considering the priesthood you don’t have to have it all figured out before you talk to someone about the possibilities or consider the seminary. There are guys who come to the seminary, there are guys who leave the seminary – it’s a time to learn and to see if this is where your heart is,” said seminarian Martin Pitstick.

Mr. Pitstick is one of the nine seminarians studying for the priesthood for the Diocese of Covington. He grew up on a hog farm in Fairborn, Ohio, the youngest of seven children. In college he studied physics and psychology graduating from the Franciscan University, Steubenville, with a double major in French and theology. He has owned a successful small business forms business and still owns a house in Steubenville.A transforming experience, which one could interpret as his first step on the path to the seminary, occurred in France.

Mr. Pitstick lived at L’Arche as a charitable volunteer for three years. L’Arche is an international federation of communities for people with learning disabilities and assistants. As a charitable volunteer Mr. Pitstick lived in a household setting with mentally handicapped people sharing community life on an equal basis. When he returned he had a strong desire to work in some type of full-time lay pastoral ministry in the Church. Looking back he said he always felt a call to ministry in the Church but wasn’t able to articulate that until his experience at L’Arche.

“I wasn’t thinking of the priesthood or that I would be able to be a priest,” he said.

But others who knew him were. One was the then Msgr. Roger Foys who told him that everything he wanted to do in lay pastoral ministry he could do better as a priest. He respectfully thought otherwise and continued in his pursuit of lay ministry. He got a job in a parish as a lay pastoral minister and loved it. But he said he couldn’t get the words of Msgr. Foys out of his mind.

“I began to see what I perhaps wanted to do was the priesthood. I began to feel an attraction and a fulfillment to the vocation of the priesthood. … Perhaps the priesthood might be similar to what one is looking for in the marriage vocation, the fulfillment of serving people on an exclusive full-time basis as a priest,” he said.And the mind games began.

“I’m certainly not going to come to Covington but if I were what would it look like? It wouldn’t hurt for me to visit a seminary which would be where I would go if I were in Covington. Things began to click,” he said.

Two things attracted him to the seminary and the Diocese of Covington – Bishop Foys’ initial words and his open door in talking with him and he liked that he would be geographically closer to his parents.

Mr. Pitstick sid that he has not been gifted with a crystal-clear calling to the priesthood. And while he admits that at 44 years of age it was not an easy decision to make, he finds comfort in knowing he doesn’t have to completely make up his mind. He can give it a try. He had heard that the best place to discern a vocation is the seminary. His experiences over the last seven months have him agreeing.

“Its a formation process, it’s a discernment process, a growth process – I’m gradually growing into something,” said Mr. Pitstick.

Mr. Pitstick has four and a half more years in the seminary to learn, to grow and to see if the priesthood is indeed where his heart is.

Marty Pistick is currently a Second Year Pre-Theologian at St. Vincent Seminary.