Father Kevin ElbertIf you happen to see a priest riding a motorcycle on the west side of Cleveland, chances are you’ve crossed paths with Fr. Kevin Elbert, who is actually a native of Saint John Bosco parish!  Fr. Kevin, now pastor of St. Luke’s Parish in Lakewood, is the son of Patrick and Ann Elbert who joined Saint John Bosco Church when they moved to Middleburg Heights back in 1978.

Early Life

As a teenager, Fr. Kevin described himself as a “kid who didn’t care much for school and was at best a nominal Catholic.”  It wasn’t until he was in his 20s and a friend invited him to a LifeTeen Mass at SJB that his interest in the Catholic faith really began to grow.  “After my second LifeTeen Mass, I was hooked on it,” remembers Fr. Kevin.  His friends on the LifeTeen Core Team encouraged him to participate, knowing that his “street smarts” could help him mentor to other young adults.  He began to serve as a core member of the LifeTeen ministry and as a Eucharistic minister at SJB.

Fr. Kevin is a man of many talents, including martial arts.  After graduating from Midpark High School, the colorful future priest opened branches of Tracy’s Karate Studio in Lakewood and Independence.  Later, he sold those studios to focus on pursuing a business degree at Baldwin- Wallace University, which he obtained in 1993.  Subsequently, he entered CSU’s Cleveland- Marshall College of Law and earned a J.D. in 1997.  For next six years, he practiced law, first as a staff attorney in the Cuyahoga County Court system and later in a private practice in Solon.

Priestly Formation

By 2000, it seemed that Kevin Elbert had it all – a lucrative career as a lawyer, a beautiful house, and long-time girlfriend.  Yet he felt unfulfilled.  Fellow SJB LifeTeen core member Dave Kercher once asked him, “Have you ever thought about becoming a priest?”  Fr. Kevin wrestled with the question for several years.  He said to himself, “Please God, I’ll do anything you want, but don’t ask me to become a priest!”  Then in 2002, the SJB LifeTeen Core Team and teens traveled to Toronto for World Youth Day and heard Pope John Paul II present his message, “Be not afraid.”  “He was speaking to a crowd of over a million people,” remembered Fr. Kevin, “but it was as if he was speaking directly to me.” He entered Saint Mary Seminary the following year and was ordained in 2010.  Fr. Kevin credits his family and LifeTeen Core friends with the necessary encouragement to make the commitment to the priesthood.

Another strong influence on Fr. Kevin’s spiritual formation was Fr. Dave Liberatore’s great love for the Eucharist.  “To me, the host looked, smelled, and tasted like bread.  But Fr. Dave’s preaching on the Body, Soul, and Divinity of the Eucharist set my heart on fire,” says Fr. Kevin.  Fr. Dave’s devotion to the Eucharist even touched Fr. Kevin’s parents, who still make a weekly holy hour in the Adoration Chapel.

SJB’s Heart of a Shepherd Campaign

While Fr. Kevin’s previous law career provided the funds necessary to finance his seminary tuition, not all seminarians are quite as fortunate.  Many newly ordained priests find themselves in deep debt from educational expenses.  The Cleveland Catholic Diocese is facing two additional challenges regarding the priesthood.  Borromeo Seminary’s facilities are over 70 years old and are in serious need of repair.  Moreover, there are nearly 100 retired priests in the Diocese, and this number grows annually.  The Retired Clergy Pension Fund is stretched with these numbers, and we need to care for our priests who spent their lives caring for us.  For all of the above reasons, we invite you to participate in the Heart of a Shepherd Campaign.  Half of the funds raised by SJB will be donated back to our parish, so please be generous to this upcoming collection.

If your budget will not allow a donation to this campaign, please support our future candidates for the priesthood through your prayers, and encourage them with Pope John Paul II’s words, “Be not afraid!”


Submitted by Christine and Bob Martuch