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Priesthood studies up next for Catholic High seniors

Zawislak joining House of Formation; Tarini headed for Notre Dame

Published: May 11, 2023   
Malea Hargett
During a May 3 ceremony at Catholic High School in Little Rock, Phillip Zawislak (second from left), family and friends applaud after Nick Tarini (fourth from left) signed his letter of intent to study for the priesthood with the Holy Cross Fathers at the University of Notre Dame.

Phillip Zawislak and Nick Tarini work together on the Rocket Times, the Catholic High School student magazine, and on May 3 they both announced they want to serve the Church as seminarians.

The Diocese of Little Rock hosted a seminarian signing day for the seniors before the student body and teachers in the school gym.

“I want to encourage you all that God has created you personally,” diocesan vocations director Father Jeff Hebert told the student body. “Because your mind and your heart are exactly what this world needs. When you come to discover exactly who you are and when that mind is enlightened by the Gospel and that heart is filled with the Holy Spirit, with Christ’s love, and you follow what you are passionate about, when you follow who you are, it will set the world on fire. I only ask that you follow that desire in your heart to be the fullest version of who you are. If that fullest version of who you are, who you long to be, is a servant of the Gospel, come talk to me, and I will encourage you to follow that voice as long as you live.”

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor was on hand to congratulate Zawislak and Tarini and officially welcome Zawislak as a diocesan seminarian. Also attending were six diocesan seminarians and priests who are CHS graduates.

The ceremony closed with Zawislak and Tarini linked arm in arm, joining the student body in singing the CHS alma mater.

Zawislak was accepted as a diocesan seminarian, living at the House of Formation in Little Rock and studying at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock and Newman University in Wichita, Kan. The son of Vera and Jon Zawislak, he attends Our Lady of the Holy Souls Church in Little Rock. In addition to being the Rocket Times’ chief photographer, he is an altar server at school Masses and active in his parish youth group.

“I am pretty confident,” Zawislak said of his decision. “I have been thinking about this for a while.”

“We are definitely supportive of his decision,” his father Jon said.

Tarini, son of Kiernan and Mike Tarini, was accepted to the formation program for the Holy Cross Fathers. He will study at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. Tarini, a member of Christ the King Church in Little Rock, is the class valedictorian and editor of the Rocket Times. He plays on the school soccer team, is co-captain of the cross country team and active in his parish youth group.

“I really like their strong commitment to community, serving together and spending time together,” he said. “One of the main characteristics of Holy Cross is spending time in community and making a strong brotherhood.”

Kiernan Tarini said she is happy her son was able to attend a two-week summer immersion program in 2022 at Notre Dame to get acquainted with the religious order.

“When he came back, he said, ‘Yeah, this is what I want to do,’” she said.

Seminarian signing days have been a regular event at Catholic High since 2009. Since then, at least 14 graduates have been ordained diocesan priests, including two this month.

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