Tallmadge -- After bidding farewell to longtime pastor the Rev. John Hengle with a Mass of Thanksgiving and celebration Sept. 29, Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church welcomed its new pastor, the Rev. Mike Matusz, Oct. 1.

Matusz, 64, was officially installed as pastor during a Mass on Nov. 16.

Prior to his assignment to Our Lady of Victory, Matusz served as pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Garfield Heights.

Matusz spent nearly two decades working in the private sector before answering a call to the priesthood.

A 1976 graduate of Cleveland State University, Matusz earned a bachelor's degree in business administration (accounting major, marketing minor).

"In my first years in college, I began working at Cook United, the corporate headquarters of Pick-n-Pay and other companies owned by Cook United," said Matusz. "All in all, I worked for Cook United for some 18 years, spending four of those years as the Controller for Consolidated Sales Company, a subsidiary of Cook United, located in Louisville, Ky."

In 1982, he took another position with Cook United and relocated to his home town of Maple Heights.

It wasn't until the age of 34 that Matusz received his calling to join the church. He said he sensed there was something else he should be doing in his life and he was being drawn to it.

Matusz attended school at Borromeo Seminary and then began graduate school at St. Mary Seminary where he received his masters of divinity degree.

"My first assignment was as a member of the pastoral team of Our Lady Help of Christians Church, based in Litchfield," said Matusz. "I was then a member of the pastoral team of St. Mary Magdalene in Willowick where three men and three women shared ministry responsibilities.

From there, I was appointed as pastor at St. Timothy Catholic Church in Garfield Heights and served as pastor of St. Martha Catholic Church in Akron for about 10 years before moving on to Garfield Heights to serve as pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Parish.

"Each of these assignments has helped me to grow, and I pray that in each, I have been a vessel through which God has been able to work to help others grow in faith, in love, in spirit," he said.

When asked why he decided to come to Tallmadge, Matusz said it was simply time to move on to a new parish. The diocese typically leaves a pastor at a parish for four years, although a pastor can change locations or decide to stay longer if he so desires. Matusz said he was already familiar with Our Lady of Victory and enjoys the Akron area.

"My career as a pastor will be coming up on 25 years next May," said Matusz. "I feel blessed to have had a second career in life."

Matusz said his greatest hope for Our Lady of Victory is that he is able to reinvigorate people by the gift of the church.

"I hope that whatever we've been doing so far that is life-giving is what we continue to do," he said.

Matusz attended St. Rita's in Solon when growing up. He also attended other churches in the area that have since been closed.

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my parents," said Matusz. "They have been my biggest supporters."

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