By PRISCILLA KADOLPH

Staff writer

Divine Mercy Catholic church welcomes Father Austin Ammannati. The week of June 30 he began his six year term at the parish. He is replacing Father Joseph Poggemeyer.

Father Ammannati came to Divine Mercy from St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Mansfield, where he was an associate priest.

Ammannati is excited to be at Divine Mercy. He is even more excited to get into Divine Mercy elementary school and spend time with the students.

He recognizes the hard work Father Poggemeyer has put into the church and school and is excited to carry on with all of his efforts.

This will be the first parish that he will independently serve. At St. Peter’s Catholic church he was an associate priest. Not only does he face the challenges of serving his first church, but also the challenges COVID-19 has brought upon as well.

Ammannati is outgoing and prefers hand shakes and hugs. Unfortunately, neither are allowed presently. He stated that since he is unable to interact with the parishioners in that manner, the transition of coming to a new church doesn’t feel the same, as though something is removed from the transition.

But, it is important to him that everyone be prudent and adhere to the guidelines that have been issued for everyone’s safety. And thus, far the community has been incredibly welcoming.

Ammannati comes from a family of six. He has younger sisters; one lives in Toledo and one lives in Columbus. His parents, grandparents, brother, sister-in-law and three nephews live in Bellevue where he was raised.

His family is a close-knit, Catholic family. He jokingly said, “my grandma was born on All Saints Day and she believes it to be be more than a coincidence.”

Through some twists and turns he discovered that his calling in life was to be a priest in the Catholic church.

He was raised in the Catholic church with a devoted family. He went to Immaculate Conception Catholic elementary and high school. Throughout his youth he served as an alter boy.

During his senior year his priest was talking with him about his future plans and asked him if was going to seminary school. At the time Ammannati had not considered attending seminary and thought that the priest was asking the same question he asked all seniors.

After graduating from Immaculate Conception he attended Bowling Green and studied physical therapy. He also joined a Catholic fellowship group his freshman year.

As he delved further into his freshman year he continue to deepen his faith in God, learn more about the Catholic religion and how to add prayer to his daily routine.

By the end of his freshman year he wasn’t fulfilled or satisfied with his studies or classes. He thought perhaps that once he earned his bachelor’s degree he would move on to seminary school.

When it came time to choose classes for the following terms Ammannati struggled to find any happiness with his choices. But, he pressed on and continued to change majors and take classes.

A second priest asked him if he considered attending seminary school. He stated that it was a consideration at the time, but still didn’t have a strong conviction about attending right away.

He continued to pray and finally by the end of his second year he applied to the Diocese of Toledo seminary school. For philosophical studies he attended Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus and for theological studies he was sent to Italy to study in Rome.

It is not standard procedure for seminary students to go to Italy; they are chosen by the bishop from the Diocese they are attending school. Ammannati feels incredibly blessed and is grateful for the time he spent in Rome.

Once he became settled in with his philosophical studies in Columbus, he felt as though he was finally on the right path and a sense of peace. That sense of peace is still ever present today as he begins his journey as a priest.

In 2016 he was ordained as a priest. In 2017 he graduated from the master’s program in Rome and was sent to St. Peter’s Catholic church in Mansfield.

As an associate priest at St. Peter’s he was present in the Catholic school on campus. It was there that he learned, “kindergartner’s are earnest and say what is on their mind.”

He anticipates that he will have a successful term here and is excited to meet all the parishioners of the county and start working with the children at the school.