Jill Boughton
Freelance Writer
April 9, 2024 // Diocese

Eight Holy Cross Priests Ordained at Notre Dame

Jill Boughton
Freelance Writer

On Saturday, April 6, Bishop William A. Wack, CSC, of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, ordained eight young men in the University of Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart. He conferred the Sacrament of Holy Orders on Edward Dolphin, Nicholas Guiney, Stephen Jakubowski, Ryan Kerr, Tyler Kreipke, Peter Puleo, Michael Ryan, and Brian Vetter by the laying on of hands, followed by a long procession of Holy Cross priests imposing their hands in silent prayer. The eight new priests had professed perpetual vows last August.

Peter Ringenberg
A bishop performs the laying on of hands during the Congregation of Holy Cross, U.S. Province 2024 Ordination celebration at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame on Saturday, April 6. In total, eight men were ordained to the priesthood during the ordination ceremony.

“It is a great blessing to have Ed, Nik, Stephen, Ryan, Tyler, Peter, Mike, and Brian join us in the ministry of the priesthood,” said Father William M. Lies, Provincial Superior of the Congregation of Holy Cross. “They are wonderful ministers of God’s friendship, and each brings unique talents and gifts to our community and to their ministry in the Church. They will bring hope to the People of God through the sacraments and their service.”

In addition to the superior’s affirmation, each was presented by someone who had directly benefited from the ministry of the newly ordained priest since last summer. Bishop Wack, a native of South Bend, pointed out that not all dioceses follow this practice, but he applauded the wonderful recommendations.

Joshua Johnson, a student in the dorm where Father Ed Dolphin is rector, called him the “smartest, strongest, best smelling, and humblest” resident and praised his “meatball Mondays.” Emma Jeppesen from the University of Portland has found Father Tyler Kreipke adept at answering her questions about both engineering and theology. Seventh grader Alexandra Marin Perez, a seventh grader at St. Adalbert School in South Bend, applauded her science and religion teacher, Father Brian Vetter, in both Spanish and English and said, “He’s made me feel an important part of the Church.”

Lisa Kochanowski
Bishop William A. Wack of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, a priest of the
Congregation of Holy Cross, celebrates Mass during the Holy Cross Congregation, U.S. Province 2024 Ordination celebration.

After the celebrant declared, “We choose” these men, his homily explained their new role to both the candidates and the large congregation of family and friends in attendance at the basilica. Bishop Wack reminded the men that, despite all the preparation, “This is not all about you. It’s about Jesus Christ’s dying and rising from the dead! And it’s about the people you will be serving.” He pointed out that although many words had been said about them, only a single word was asked of them: “present.” He expanded a bit on that key word. It means, “I come before you frightened and inadequate but sure Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior,” Bishop Wack said. “I mean with all my heart to love Him and to help show you how to do the same.”

Bishop Wack’s only advice to the men was “prayer,” and he declared: “We love you, we’re proud of you, and we need you. May you always respond with joy in your heart and conviction in your soul.” He also encouraged the People of God to pray tirelessly for their priests and expressed the hope that the moving ordination ceremony might spark some of those present or watching online to a renewal in their own faith.

Bishop William A. Wack of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, performs the laying on of hands for Father Brian Vetter during the Holy Cross Congregation, U.S. Province 2024 Ordination celebration. – Lisa Kochanowski

Each candidate responded “I do, with the help of God” to questions about their intention to assume the responsibilities of the office of presbyter, and each knelt promising their obedience to their local bishop and their religious superior.

Then, the men prostrated themselves in the central aisle during a lengthy invocation of saints and a series of supplications. After the laying on of hands, each new priest was vested with a stole and chasuble by a mentor priest, his hands were anointed with oil, and he received bread and wine with the words, “Receive the oblation of the holy people, to be offered to God. Understand what you will do, imitate what you will celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s cross.” After being embraced by Bishop Wack, they took their place among the other priests for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Father Edward Dolphin grew up in Delaware, but the other seven men hail from the Midwest – three from Ohio, two from Michigan, one from Missouri. Only Father Tyler Kreipke is from Indiana (Zionsville). Family sizes range from Father Nicolas Guiney, an only child, to Father Mike Ryan, the ninth of 11 children and the second priest among his siblings. Some have been Catholic for generations, but Father Kreipke didn’t enter the Church until he was in graduate school at the University of Notre Dame. 

Bishop William A. Wack of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, performs the laying on of hands for Father Peter Puleo during the Holy Cross Congregation, U.S. Province 2024 Ordination celebration. – Lisa Kochanowski

Before entering seminary, they attended colleges including Holy Cross College, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, and Drexel University in Philadelphia. A few of the newly ordained studied theology in college, but various forms of engineering were a more common major. They have held a great variety of jobs ranging from construction supervision to freelance photography. 

Of course, each man has a unique vocation story. God spoke to Father Dolphin as an adult when he heard the story of the prophet Samuel being called in the Temple as a young boy. Several men were drawn by the joy and zeal of the Holy Cross priests they met. As a college senior, Father Puleo went into his college chapel expecting God to confirm his plan to get married and be an engineer. After he walked out, he told his girlfriend he felt like he needed to explore becoming a priest. (They’ve kept in touch; she’s now a happily married mother.)

Father Kerr wrote: “My junior year of college, I told my spiritual director that I believed that God wanted me to be a Holy Cross priest and that I was going to fight it. My discernment ultimately went the way all things will go. God won. … To put it simply, God won me over not by being more powerful but by inviting me into a love that changed my life and made me more open, thoughtful, and compassionate.”

Earlier in their formation, several of the new priests filled ministry roles in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Seven have been dorm rectors or campus ministers at Notre Dame or Holy Cross College. Both Father Kerr and Father Puleo taught in the Common Good Practicum at Holy Cross College. Father Kerr also assisted with marriage preparation at St. Pius X Parish in Granger. Father Kreipke helped with religious education at St. Joseph, adult education at St. Adalbert, and was a seminarian-in-residence at Christ the King, all in South Bend. Besides working in the Spanish-language Order of Christian Initiation at St. Adalbert, Father Vetter did his student teaching at Holy Cross Grade School, both in South Bend.

Peter Rinkenberg

Beginning Every Day with Christ

Father Puleo has been serving at St. Joseph Church in South Bend, where he’s had the privilege of living in the rectory with two priests (Holy Cross Fathers Matt Fase and David Smith) and a Holy Cross seminarian, Ben Sasin.

Father Puleo said it has been wonderful sharing life with these men who have undertaken a common work in the parish and school, as well as the parish’s permanent deacon, Deacon Tom Labuzienski.

“Peter has been both an inspiration spiritually and a helpful resource for deacon information and knowledge,” Deacon Labuzienski said. “Personally, I have gained much from his faith and sharing.” 

Father Puleo said he loves all the different ways he gets to be with people at different stages in their lives. On a typical weekday, he said, he may preach a homily at the 7 a.m. Mass, greet preschoolers arriving for school, distribute Communion at a nursing home, teach sixth and seventh grade religion, and lead a spiritual reflection at a St. Vincent de Paul meeting. He’s also organized rectory residents in making home visits to bring food and hope to hungry neighbors.

Father Puleo said the work of the clergy “sometimes feels chaotic and disorganized. So much of it is spur of the moment, and the work is never finished; you just have to pick an arbitrary point to stop. You’re navigating endless needs, and there’s so much you can’t control.” But he also loves the spontaneity of all these interactions. Essential in all of this is the discipline of prayer, he said. “If I don’t begin every day with Jesus Christ, everything goes wrong.”

At the ordination Mass, Melissa Green, Principal of St. Joseph Grade School, along with her family, presented Father Puleo. Green said he “has been a blessing to our school community” and that “he models for all of us what it looks like to live each day offering one’s mind, heart and actions to bring Christ to others.”

Anticipating his ordination, Father Puleo said he most looked forward to being able to celebrate Mass. After all, he said, “that’s the center of the life.” When he thinks about his future role as a priest, Father Puleo said he is drawn to the ministry of education at any level. 

After his first Mass at St. Joseph, with 10 priests concelebrating, he knelt to ask for blessings from his parents, observing a tradition for each. To his mother, Melissa, he gave the cloth used to wipe the holy oils from his hands during the ordination ceremony, and his father will receive the stole he wears the first time he hears confessions.

‘I’m Working Harder Than I’ve Ever Worked’ 

Father Brian Vetter spent his diaconate year teaching junior high science and religion at St. Adalbert School in South Bend, as well as serving the parish as a deacon. He first realized he wanted to be a teacher during his novitiate year in Colorado, when he found himself more eagerly looking forward to his time in a sixth grade CCD class than to hiking the Rockies on his days off. He was already a seminarian when he began the A.C.E. (Alliance for Catholic Education) program at Notre Dame in order to gain the practical skills he needed in the classroom.

Learning Spanish was part of Father Vetter’s seminary formation. Besides being a priest and a teacher, he feels called to minister in a Hispanic culture, especially with those of Mexican heritage. “They bring so many gifts to the Church,” he said. When he preaches on Sundays, a typical homily includes Spanish for the adults and a specific application in English addressed to the children. Father Vetter said St. Adalbert has been an ideal assignment for his diaconal year, as it has brought together every aspect of his vocation. “It’s intense,” he said. “I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked in my life, but I’m amazed how fulfilling and rewarding it is for me.”

As a deacon, Brian has celebrated many baptisms, and he makes a special effort to meet people after Mass, especially families who don’t have children in the school. Parishioners notice and appreciate his people skills, but he has a special love for teenagers, who are “at the time of life when they’re figuring things out and making decisions about what they believe in and what’s important to them. I want to show young people how God’s love is working in their lives, sometimes before they’re even aware of it.”

Holy Cross Father Ryan Pietrocarlo, Pastor of St. Adalbert, said Father Vetter “takes delight even in the weird things kids say and do; [he] finds them endearing.”   

Not surprisingly, helping prepare eighth graders to be confirmed in May has been a special privilege.

“He greets us every morning,” said eighth grader Vale Gomez. “Every single time we come into his classroom, he welcomes us with kindness. He has a distinctive teaching style, and he’s good at telling stories.”

Jenni Crain, Principal at St. Adalbert, said Father Vetter has been a strong member of the junior high team and excels in lesson planning.

“He has the ability to break apart a big concept into little pieces so his students can chew on it. Having him teach both science and religion has provided a unique opportunity for the students to see things through a common lens.”

Crain enjoyed hearing students greet Deacon Vetter on the last day of school before Easter break. They knew he’d be a priest by the time they returned to school. She hoped many would attend the ordination.

“It’s like being invited to your teacher’s wedding!”

The Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, has made the following assignments:

Reverend Peter Puleo, CSC, to Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph Parish, South Bend, effective April 6, 2024.

Reverend Brian Vetter, CSC, to Parochial Vicar at St. Adalbert and St. Casimir Parishes, South Bend, effective April 6, 2024.

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