Catholic School Alums Reflect on Value of Catholic Education


In celebration of Catholic Schools Week 2020, Diocesan Communications Director Tony DeGol invited various alums of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown to share how their years of Catholic education contributed to the personal and professional success they enjoy today.


Sister Celeste Ciesielka, CCW
Pastoral Minister at Holy Family Parish in Portage

Attended Saint Joseph School in Portage and Bishop Carroll Catholic High School in Ebensburg

“In addition to my family, my Catholic education has been the foundation for my life as well as my faith.  It was here that I fell in love with God and decided to dedicate my life to serving Him and His people.  The morals and values that I learned and witnessed through my teachers and classmates have been “the Christ light” guiding me through the choices of my life.  I now have the privilege of reflecting that light to all those to whom I serve in His Name.”


Kerri Golden
Assistant Dean, School of Health Sciences and Education; Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy
Saint Francis University

Attended Bishop Carroll Catholic High School in Ebensburg

“I try to approach every situation presented in my adult life first with grace, kindness, thoughtfulness, and understanding. These are not skills learned, but rather characteristics developed within the walls of a caring and compassionate environment, such as those found in our Catholic schools!”


Tim Grose
Community School Director, Johnstown Elementary School at Communities in Schools of PA

Attended West End Catholic School in Johnstown, Our Mother of Sorrows School in Johnstown, and Bishop McCort Catholic High School in Johnstown

“Receiving a Catholic education has been a tremendous benefit to my personal and professional life. The morals and core values that I received throughout my education has immensely helped me in my career path and as I grow in my personal life. As someone who works with children and families on a daily basis, I believe that my dedication to working in social services has come from understanding the importance of true service work, which was exemplified for many years during my time in the Catholic School System. Through studying Biblical acts and messages, along with having an opportunity to get hands-on experience working in religious-based service, I found a desire to continue this work in my professional career. In addition, I have found myself seeking the core family values that were taught in my series of Religion classes throughout the years. My goal is to continue to carry these values and beliefs long into my personal and professional career.”


Frank Janakovic
Mayor of Johnstown

Attended Saint Rochus School in Johnstown and Bishop McCort Catholic High School in Johnstown

“My education at Bishop McCort taught me lifelong lessons and helped initiate long term friendships. The attributes attained at Bishop McCort of perseverance, respect for and helping others, and volunteerism have carried over in to my careers as Mayor and President/Executive Director of a multi-county mental & behavioral health agency. It has helped teach me to think with both my “head and heart” when dealing with others!”


Jacqueline M. Martella, R.Ph.
Owner of Martella’s Pharmacies, Boswell Prescription Center and Boswell Pharmacy Services

Attended Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in Johnstown and Bishop McCort Catholic High School in Johnstown

“My Catholic education has provided me a “moral compass” to live by. This high standard of faith in God, integrity, kindness, and love to self, family and community has been the foundation or the playbook for my success in life.”


Lisa Michelone
Senior Vice President/Marketing Director at Reliance Bank in Altoona

Attended Our Lady of Lourdes School in Altoona and Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School in Altoona

“My time at these schools was very memorable in so many ways. I made and kept friends to this day. My teachers left a lasting impact on me – from Sister Sophia in second grade to Miss Anderson and Sister Vianney in my Senior Year at BG. What I was taught was extremely important, however what I learned is that education, involvement, and relationships are what you need to succeed. Without that base and sense of belonging, I do not think I would be as successful as I am today.”


Carrie Shearer
NCAA Postgraduate Intern – Marketing and Branding

Attended Our Lady of Victory School in State College and Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy in Boalsburg

“My Catholic school education provided me with a mindset of perseverance that has served me to this day. The rigor of the curriculum, starting in elementary education through my college career allowed me to test the waters of my interests while challenging my capabilities. I grew tremendously throughout the process. Catholic education has a substantial impact on me given the focus on developing the whole-person. That focus not only became a catalyst for my work in college athletics now as a leadership development professional, but a firm foundation for a lifelong career as someone looking to do meaningful work in an industry that centers around community and competition.”



Blair County Commissioners

Terry Tomassetti
Altoona Attorney and Retired Blair County Commissioner

Attended Saints Peter & Paul School in Altoona and Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School in Altoona

“Catholic education taught me that one of the primary goals of learning and life was service to and helping others. Personal achievement and financial reward mean little if your work and major interests benefit only yourself.”