St. Mary’s Parish Clergy
Our Parish has been unique in that the clergy serving it have been members of religious orders. In the early years, priests of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists), including St. John Neumann, served the Parish. After those few early years, until this time today, our parish clergy have been Benedictine monks of St. Vincent Archabbey. These men have been appointed by the Bishop of the Diocese of Erie upon recommendation of their religious superiors. Our first Diocesan clergyman appointed to serve in St. Marys Parish is our Permanent Deacon, Raymond Ehrensberger.
Fr. Peter Augustine Pierjok, O.S.B. – Pastor
Father Peter Augustine Pierjok, O.S.B., is the son of the late Harry A. Pierjok, Sr., and Emma L. Pierjok. His only sibling, Roseanne Cross King of Rolla, Missouri died on January 19, 2017. He was born in late-February of 1947 in his grandparents’ bed, and grew up on a farm and in small towns in rural Washington County, Illinois [about 45 miles east of St. Louis, Missouri].
He graduated from St. Ann Grade School in 1961, and is a 1965 graduate of Nashville Community High School, Nashville, Illinois. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in design from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, in 1969, studied philosophy at both Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, and at St. Vincent College, Latrobe, PA, and earned a master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 1987.
Before answering God’s repeated call to the religious life & priesthood at the age of 35, and entering St. Augustine Community in 1983, he had a fifteen and a half year life-forming career in sales and marketing, last employed by Do-It Best, Inc., headquartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
On April 16, 1987 he made perpetual vows with the Benedictine Community of St. Augustine, Peoria. He was ordained a deacon on May 23, 1987, and a priest on May 28, 1988 at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Peoria, Illinois, by Bishop Edward W. O’Rourke, DD.
He was named associate director of Highwoods Learning Center, Washington, Illinois, in 1986 and director in May of 1988. At that time he also was named associate director of St. Augustine Manor and Conference Center. While serving in the Diocese of Peoria, in June 1990, Bishop John J. Myers, DD, JCD, appointed him assistant pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Peoria, Illinois. In 1992 he was appointed pastor of St. Mary Church, Kickapoo, Illinois, and in June 1999 pastor of St. Jude Church, Peoria. He was appointed pastor of three parishes: St. Mary Church, Henry, Illinois; Immaculate Conception Church, Lacon, Illinois and St. Joseph Church, Henry, Illinois from June 2003 until June 2004, when he was released by the Most Rev. Daniel R. Jenky, DD, JCD, bishop of the Diocese of Peoria to pursue a monastic vocation at Saint Vincent Archabbey.
Fr. Peter Augustine completed the novitiate and professed 1st vows at St. Vincent Archabbey on July 10, 2005. In July 2005 he was named socius of novices and assistant guestmaster.
In 2005 he was appointed Assistant Chaplain at Latrobe Area Hospital, where he served until 2006. In addition, Fr. Peter Augustine regularly went out on mission to various parishes as well as serving as one of the chaplains to the Carmelite sisters [2005-2007]. He was named Director of Archabbey Guests & Guest Facilites [2006-2007], Socius of Novices & Postulants [2005-2007], and Associate Director of Vocations [2006-2007]. In October 2006 he was appointed Administrator of Forty Martyrs Parish in Trauger, PA—while continuing his other duties at the Archabbey. On August 20, 2007 he was appointed Pastor and Administrator of Sacred Heart Parish, Youngstown, PA and St. Cecilia Parish, Whitney, PA where he lead these parishes from “near closing” to “stability and new life spiritually and fiscally.” Bishop Lawrence Persico named Fr. Peter Augustine the new pastor of St. Mary Church in St. Marys, PA effective July 17, 2017, where he now shares his “experience of the real world” combined with his joy of being a Benedictine monk, a Priest of Jesus Christ, and shepherd of God’s people.
Deacon Ray Ehrensberger – Deacon Assistant
Deacon Ray, son of Raymond and Shirley Nussbaum Ehrensberger was born in St. Marys on January 17, 1955.
He attended school in St. Marys, PA.
Deacon Ray is married to Rose Anne and they have three daughters and five grandchildren. They are both involved in the Cursillo Movement of the Diocese of Erie serving as local Cursillo representatives, and they both serve as Life Teen Core members.
Deacon Ray currently serves the St. Marys area as an EMT with the St. Marys Area Ambulance Service.
After completing his studies for ordination to the Permanent Diaconate of the Diocese of Erie, Deacon Ray was ordained a Deacon by Bishop Trautman on May 16, 2008. He was subsequently assigned by Bishop Trautman to serve St. Marys Parish as a permanent Deacon for a term of five years.
As a deacon of the Church, Deacon Ray assists the celebrating Bishop/Priests with celebrations of the Eucharist by proclaiming the Gospel and also preaching at the altar. He also administers the Sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony, teaches, and officiates at funerals.
Deacon Ray currently conducts Sunday Word Services at Silver Creek and Elk Haven and is Chaplain for the Crystal Fire Department.
For information about the Permanent Diaconate program or the Cursillo Movement feel free to contact Deacon Ray or Rose Anne at 814-594-3867 or 814-594-9074.
The following was taken from the USCCB website:
U.S. deacons, 97 percent of whom are married, comprise nearly one-half of the Catholic Church’s deacons worldwide.
“The permanent diaconate was restored by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) to be a “driving force for the Church’s service or “diaconia” toward the local Christian communities, and as a sign of the sacrament of the Lord Christ himself, who “came not to be served but to serve” (Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Letter, Ad Pascendum, 1972).” A distinct ministry in the early church, the diaconnate devolved by the Middle Ages to a transitional stage en route to ordination to the priesthood. Formally reinstituted by Pope Paul VI in 1967, the permanent diaconate is open to married or single men ages 35 orolder. A vital ministry in U.S. dioceses since 1968 he diaconate has grown an average of 10 percent annually. There are 28,238 deacons who serve the Church worldwide, a number which increased 17 percent from 1998 to 2001.”
Further information on the deaconate is available at www.usccb.org.