Our New President

Meet Mr. Marinacci

Dear St. Joseph's Prep Community,

I am grateful and honored to have been named the president of St. Joseph’s Prep. This is the dream of a lifetime for me. I am the product of Jesuit education; I have committed my professional practice to teaching and working with students and faculty alike, and I cannot imagine a better place to continue that vocation than at The Prep. The historic city of Philadelphia and the prestigious institution that is St. Joseph's Prep have a long and vibrant relationship, and I am blessed to be a part of that living tradition. My family and I are eager to be members of Prep Nation, and we cannot wait to dive into the community that makes it such a special place. I look forward to meeting many of you this summer.

Sincerely,
 
Mr. John Marinacci
President of St. Joseph's Preparatory School
Mr. Marinacci
At A Glance:

Hometown

List of 1 items.

  • Bronx, NY

Academic Degrees

List of 3 items.

  • Bachelor of Arts, English and Writing, Loyola University Maryland

  • Certificate of Diversity and Inclusion, Cornell University

  • Master of Liberal Arts, Johns Hopkins University

Recent Career

List of 6 items.

  • 2021-Present: President, St. Joseph’s Prep

  • 2014-21: Principal, Loyola Blakefield

  • 2008-14: Dean of Students, St. Paul’s School

  • 2005-14 English Teacher and Coach, St. Paul’s School

  • 2003-05 English Teacher and Coach, Fordham Preparatory School

  • 1998-03 English/Language Arts Teacher and Coach, Boys’ Latin School

Q & A

List of 17 items.

  • Favorite quote?

    Asking an English major this question is like asking a chef to pick a favorite dish. These days I find myself going back to Seamus Heaney: “Walk on air against your better judgement.”
  • What are you most looking forward to about Philadelphia?

    I am excited to be in a large city again and to have my children live in the greater Philadelphia metro area. They have spent their lives outside of Baltimore, which I love, but it just doesn’t have the same resources and energy as Philly, which will be all new to them. Having more people together brings a greater opportunity for a diversity of backgrounds, beliefs, and thought. I love the museums in Philadelphia, and it has been a while since I have explored them, so I look forward to becoming reacquainted with them. The history, the architecture, the landmarks - there is so much to love. I am really looking forward to the food. It pains me to say this being a New Yorker, but Philly may be the best “sandwich city” I have ever been in - the roast pork with broccoli rabe alone may take that title on its own merit. I also love the passion Philadelphia sports fans wear on their sleeves. While I may not be rooting for all of the same teams, I recognize a dedicated, knowledgeable, and passionate fan-base when I see one, and I respect that. I am also looking forward to having access to a well-established public transit system to use.
  • What drew you to St. Joseph’s Prep?

    I have known about the Prep and its excellent reputation for quite a while, as I have close friends who are alumni, one of whom is my youngest daughter’s godfather. The Prep hits every mark that I am looking for in my professional career. It is an all-boys, Jesuit institution with a rich history and a strong relationship with its city. Its pursuit of excellence in all areas is only second to its desire to serve the mission of the Society of Jesus in deed, word, and intent. It has strong roots in its tradition and a desire to grow to new heights. I have been lucky enough to collaborate with some members of the Prep community while working in Jesuit schools, and they are top shelf educators and human beings, so I am excited to work with them. When I visited the school in November and met with students and adults, it confirmed what I had hoped. My conversations with everyone I met were passionate, humorous, professional, and energetic - particularly during the time I shared with the students. This is clearly a community that loves its school, cares deeply for where it has been and where it is going, and I felt comfortable there. It reminded me of some of my own experiences as a teacher and a student, so it felt familiar on one level; however, its identity is so unique in its relationship with the city and the Society. I can’t wait to explore that aspect of the school’s ethos.
  • What are your thoughts about being the first lay (non-Jesuit) president in the Prep’s history?

    This is not something that I take lightly. To be the first of anything requires significant reflection. I am honored to have been chosen. In my role as Director of the Work, I will be intentional in keeping the mission of the educational apostolate of the Society of Jesus at the core of our identity and our way of proceeding. It will be my responsibility to be a spiritual leader for the Prep, and that means sharing my own spiritual practice and prayer life with our community. The first sentiment I will share is that this has been a life-long journey for me and will continue to be so. I have grown and will continue to grow in my spiritual formation, and I hope I will be able to be a model for the students and the adults in that regard - a model of growth and imperfect progress.
  • What's the best thing to know about your family?

    They are all in. The community will get to know them. They will be at events, games, matches, regattas, productions, competitions, and visiting me at school. Sarah, my wife, is in education as well, so our kids (Fran 12, Ella 10, and Eva 7) have been raised to appreciate school life. In fact when Ella was born, we stopped at a lacrosse game I was supposed to be coaching on our way home from the hospital rather than going straight home. They have enjoyed being a part of school communities since birth.
  • Looking back, what's one piece of advice you would give your younger self when you were a student at an all-boys, Jesuit high school?

    Don’t be in a hurry. Be present in all ways, always. Try to take time to reflect on what is being experienced. The interactions, the friends, the teachers, the curriculum - it was when I was introduced to the world and taught how to navigate it with thought, empathy, purpose and care. If only I knew it at the time.
  • What is the best part about working in Jesuit secondary education?

    I am going to take the liberty of giving two best parts.
    Being part of the largest educational network in the world that is dedicated to developing the minds, bodies, and souls of young people is a professional experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else. I have built relationships through this network, both professionally and personally that are invaluable. Having that direction and mission for the Society gives us a true north that drives our mission, our identity, and our way of proceeding.
    The second is the students. Whether current students or alumni, everyone who has experienced Jesuit secondary education anywhere in the world has a shared experience through our common mission.This is an avenue to further unify us in a world with too much division.
  • What you have been watching on Netflix, reading, or listening to lately?

    I’ve loved watching The Mandalorian - I am a big Star Wars fan, and that series was the experience I had been waiting on for some time. Also I have come across a show called My Greatest Dishes, where renowned chefs share how to make the four dishes that helped make them who they are today - not necessarily their most successful dishes, but those that are most important to their identities as a chef. What is so remarkable are the stories that go with them. They are stories of memory, relationships, and love. It is really beautifully shot and produced.
    I love music. Lately I have been returning to a lot of the music from my youth, and I have been interested in finding live, alternative, and cover versions of songs I am already familiar with. I have been diving deep into Springsteen both old and new. I’ve been going back to a lot of 80’s and 90’s rap as well. I also love jazz and New Orleans fusion, so I have been exploring that more. Otis Redding has captured my attention again. My girls are playing the music from Hamilton in my house a lot these days, and that is really an amazing work of art. At the end of the day, The Clash is my favorite band. Rarely do more than a few days go by without listening to some of their music.
     
    In terms of reading, there are two types of readers: those who read one book at a time and finish it before opening another book, and those who pick up and put down several books at once. I am one of the latter. I am currently enjoying a collection of Billy Collin’s poetry entitled Whale Day and a collection of David Sedaris’s humorous pieces called The Best of Me. I just finished teaching The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, and I really enjoyed returning to that after having not read it in more than a decade. I have been moving in and out of Walter Cizsek’s memoir, He Leadeth Me. This is truly an amazing story so far. Just today I got a copy of Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, so I am looking forward to cracking that open. One of my colleagues is constantly handing me great books to read - he gave me both Cizsek’s and Rohr’s books - so I am lucky to have my pile refreshed on a regular basis.
  • What are your hobbies or interests outside of work?

    I love to cook, to fish, and to eat. I take great joy in reading, gardening, riding my bike, and doing crossword puzzles. As an extrovert, I genuinely enjoy being with others. It energizes me.
  • What makes a Jesuit education exceptional?

    Putting aside the level of true rigor and support that in my experience is universal to Jesuit schools and second to none, the fact that our purpose is not for acquiring the content and skills or even to develop critical thinking as an ends but as a means. What makes it particularly profound is that the outcome is not for the school to decide, but we are charged with it from the Society in order to animate the mission of the Church. This speaks to the power of belonging to the largest educational network on the planet, and it has been that way for nearly 500 years.  When students at Jesuit institutions graduate, they have not completed their work. They have been told it is time to start the work; that they are ready. We educate for life, but we also educate for lives. If one is truly impacted by Jesuit education, one is always tied to his or her personal experience in Jesuit education. Because of this, no matter what path one chooses, whether it be in the Peace Corps or as a venture capitalist, we proceed knowing that our mission is to impact lives through our work by animating what we were taught and are equipped to execute this for and with others. To borrow the tongue-in-cheek expression from the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, we are ruined for life. This charge has been laid out beautifully in the Universal Apostolic Preferences, and it speaks to the importance of understanding the connectivity of all creation, which Jesuit institutions impart upon their students better than anyone else.
  • How has your Jesuit education helped you in your personal and professional journey?

    Honestly, it has influenced me in every aspect of my life whether it be as a husband, a father, an educator, a leader, or a citizen. Going beyond the strengthening of my faith and the building of my educational foundation, which I credit to my time in Jesuit education, our reflective practices have informed my way of proceeding. Through my time in Jesuit education, I have gained an awareness of my shortcomings and successes and the tools to reflect upon those with the intention and resolve to move forward. This is directly responsible for all the imperfect progress in my life and the desire to do it better and with greater love. 
  • Favorite cheesesteak?

    This will take some significant experience and evaluation. I am going to take every passionate recommendation and do some serious research with my son, who loves cheesesteaks, to find the definitive answer to that. But I know that I am provolone wit’.
  • Favorite movie based in Philadelphia?

    No brainer - Rocky.
  • Cooler tourist attraction: Independence Hall or the Statue of Liberty?

    Believe it or not, I have never been to the Statue of Liberty, but I have been to Independence Hall. I think visually the Statue of Liberty wins, but in terms of the sheer gravitas of a location, it is hard to beat Independence Hall.
  • Any chance you might adopt a Philly sports team (besides the Prep of course!)?

    I can see myself pulling for the Eagles on the NFC side of the league and rooting for the 76ers. I also enjoy box lacrosse so I’ll be rooting for the Wings.There’s a lot of great tradition in college basketball in Philly, so I am excited to be close to that.
  • Favorite sports teams?

    New York Jets, New York Mets, and New York Rangers. It’s complicated - there has been a lot of suffering.
  • What is your favorite holiday?

    Christmas. The entire advent season brings new life and grace. On Christmas Eve we host the traditional Italian seafood feast. It really is a magical time of year.