Growing up in the western suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, Matthew Solarz was always active in his faith. He attended Lutheran elementary school, and his family was heavily involved in its local church.
"My parents encouraged me in every way possible," Matthew said. "They are the greatest model of unconditional love that I have had, and I think in part their parenting and show of love helped prepare me for the journey I am taking with Glenmary."
But as he entered early adulthood, Matthew fell away from the church. Busy with a career in journalism, working for the Ashland (Ohio) Times-Gazette and Chronicle-Telegram in Elyria, Ohio, and later in retail furniture management and at Ford Motor Company as a machine operator and production team leader, Matthew became an occasional churchgoer.
As his children began attending Catholic schools in 2001, Matthew renewed his interest in the faith. He joined the RCIA program and was confirmed at the Easter Vigil in 2002.
"It took only a few months in RCIA to realize that while other denominations are truly our brothers and sisters in Christ, only the Roman Catholic church offers us the fullness of God's grace," Matthew added.
Newly committed to his faith, Matthew was disturbed when he saw St. James, a parish in Lakewood, Ohio, close. Matthew wanted to spread the faith, opening more churches.
When St. James reopened in 2011, Matthew became an usher, lector and Eucharistic Minister, and volunteered as a Eucharistic Minister for the Cleveland Clinic Health System.
"The more I was able to do at church, the happier I was," Matthew said. "There is no better feeling than being able to give back to God and to others for all of the blessings we have received in our own lives."
With the help of his spiritual director, Matthew reached out to Glenmary Home Missioners. He entered Glenmary formation in August 2016 and is currently pursuing priesthood. Studying at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wis., Matthew said he enjoys philosophy and is excited about medieval philosophy and future studies of St. Thomas Aquinas.
"School is going well," said Matthew, 44. "I was a little nervous about going back to college after so many years in the working world, but I'm glad - and grateful - to be pursuing God's call in my life."
Matthew looks forward to evangelizing within the Glenmary mission areas and sharing his faith through ecumenism. He believes his life experience in the Lutheran church will help build bridges between Catholic and Protestant communities.
He enjoys amateur photography, bicycling, hiking and an occasional comic book.
Matthew has two adult children, Kelsey Anne, 23, of Centennial, Colo., and William Matthew, 20, of Lakewood, Ohio.