Where did you grow-up?

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but I was raised in Cape Coral after my family moved there in 1971. I also lived in northern Virginia and Richmond prior to entering into the seminary. 

How did you discern that God was calling you to become a priest?

It was an amazing process. On the one hand, it was rapid in that the Holy Spirit made Himself known to me when I was 29 years old. It was both a conversion experience and a call to become a priest. On the other hand, it was a thorough process as I spent more than a year actively discerning and testing this call before entering the seminary as a second vocation.

What did you do before you entered the seminary?

 

I did political work for 8 years, primarily campaigns, though I did spend a year working for then US Senator Connie Mack, a resident of my home town of Cape Coral. 

 

When were you ordained?

 

I was ordained by Bishop John Nevins at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, FL on October 25, 2002. Best day of my life! The joy! The tears! It was all so overwhelming.

 

What advice do you have for someone wondering if God might be calling him to the priesthood?

 

Well, if you believe God may be calling you then you need to look into it. God knows what is best for us, and even though we may have other plans, His will cannot be ignored. Anyone who believes he may have a vocation to the priesthood should imagine himself as a priest, and attempt to live it out in service to others. He can do this by Altar Serving at daily Mass, becoming a Lector, Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, visiting the homebound, teaching religious education, advocating for the unborn in front of the local abortion facility...and praying, praying, and praying, especially in front of the Blessed Sacrament in our Adoration Chapel. I would also encourage him to read spiritual works by the saints and respected theologians, and, of course, read, study, and pray over Sacred Scripture. Reading the Bible changed my life and led me into deeper unity with God.

 

Where were you assigned before coming to St. Charles Borromeo?

 

My first assignment, my honeymoon, was at St. William in Naples. While there, I was also chaplain for a time at St. John Neumann High School. I was there for 5 years before being transferred to the new parish of St. Agnes, also in Naples. I was there for about two years before being transferred to St. Francis Xavier in downtown Ft. Myers, where I also served as their school's chaplain. After 1 1/2 years, I was then transferred to Epiphany Cathedral where I also served as their school chaplain. I was assigned to St. Charles in June of 2013. 

 

Do you have any hobbies?

 

Used to! Ha! My life is pretty full. When I have time, I like to cook new and  exciting dishes...usually with delicious results. I also have a great fondness for travel, though with my care-giving duties I have not had much of an opportunity the past couple of years. I also love to follow sports, especially the professional teams from Cleveland and Ohio State football.

 

What do you do in your free time?

 

Sadly, not too much of that anymore. I like to relax whenever I get the opportunity. 

 

Tell us a little bit about your family.

 

I was adopted. The paperwork was all finalized in time for my parents to be able to bring me home on December 24th. My Mom, Helga Hedwig Schwerter-Fitch, emigrated from Germany following WWII and eventually settled in Cleveland where she met my Dad. She passed away on December 14, 2018. She had suffered from dementia for a number of years, but her death still was sudden and unexpected. I miss her everyday! My Dad, Robert John Fitch, has slowed down considerably over the past couple of years. He also suffers from dementia and is currently in a local memory facility. I visit him (virtually) everyday following work from 5:00-8:00. I am grateful he is still with me. I also have a sister who lives in Cape Coral.

 

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in life?

 

God truly Loves us! He's real, and dwells within each and everyone of us. He just wants us to know, love, and serve Him so that the deepest part of our being might be fulfilled...so that we can live with Him forever!  

 

What is the most joyful part of your ministry?
 
It's an awesome privilege to journey with other people in the faith lives. We're there in moments of joy and happiness, and moments of pain and sorrow. And through it all, Jesus is there with us...no matter what!

 

What would you say to a parishioner who is considering getting involved in a ministry at St. Charles?

 

God has given you gifts and talents that are to be used for His purposes. Serving others through a church ministry contributes to fulfilling your purpose in life, and deepens your participation in God's life. 

 

What are you looking forward to?

 

Heaven! Peace! Joy! Practically, while still on this earth, I am truly hoping to leave a significant Legacy Gift to St. Charles Borromeo Parish and School. As a pastor, there are so many needs in our community that can be addressed with money, and so few willing people with the means to help. While I practice tithing, giving at least 10% of my income back to God by sharing it with others, I hope to save enough money over the remainder of my life to significantly help the St. Charles community of tomorrow.

 

What’s your favorite memory of St. Charles?

 

My Christmas Eve Mass from 2018. My Mom had just passed away 10 days earlier. I was so distraught that I had asked the Deacon to preach. Silent Night was my Mom's favorite Christmas song, and we played it as post Communion meditation. I couldn't stop crying. And before the final prayer, I asked my Dad stand up and be recognized. He could barely get up. The community responded with such love and enthusiasm for him that he started crying. Then I started crying. It made me realize that this community, for better or for worse, is my family now.