The renewal of vows for eight Brothers of Holy Cross was held Saturday, April 30, with a Mass of Thanksgiving at 10:30 a.m. in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. Celebrating jubilee anniversaries were a brother with 70 years of religious profession, five brothers with 60 years, one with 50 years, and one with 25 years. Four of these brothers reside in the Notre Dame area, three in the Sarasota, Fla., area and one in Ghana, West Africa.
70 YEAR JUBILARIAN
Reliability, dedication to duty and cheerfulness are three descriptive terms that fit Brother Robert Dierker perfectly.
He was born in 1931 as the only child to Milton and Katherine Dierker in Columbus, Ohio.
Brother Robert joined Holy Cross in 1950 on the advice of a Dominican priest and teacher who told him, “If you want to be a priest, be a Dominican. If you want to be a brother, join a community of brothers.”
In Brother Robert’s words, “What good advice!”
While working at Ave Maria Press in 1952, Brother Robert fought off the effects of polio, rallied and continued to work there for 20 years. Following a year as assistant librarian at St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio, he went to Saint Joseph High School in South Bend. At Saint Joseph, he worked in the attendance office, where he remained for the next 33 years until his retirement in 2006.
After living for 11 years at Riverside Place, Brother Robert retired in 2010 to Columba Hall — a place he has always thought of as his home.
Following his retirement, he continued to volunteer at Saint Joseph High School once a week. In addition, he was a driver for the brothers in the area and maintained a rigorous exercise schedule of walking and biking until he broke a hip in November of 2021.
He reflects, “My life has been a wonderful experience of service to the Church and our community.”
60 YEAR JUBILARIANS
When Brother William Dygert turned 76 three years ago, he retired from his most recent position as Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon. He spent 54 years in Catholic school education, 44 of which were in administration. During that time, he taught English at the high school and college level as well as education and administration courses on the graduate level. Brother William also served as a middle school president, a high school assistant principal, a high school principal and for 27 years as a Catholic school superintendent. In addition to a Bachelor of Arts and three masters degrees, he earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Dayton in Ohio.
“I have been blessed to work with very talented and dedicated individuals in all the places I have served,” Brother William said. “My experience in Catholic school education has been engaging, interesting, challenging and fulfilling. The mission of informing, forming and transforming young people in Catholic schools has a profound impact on their futures and the future of the Church and society, a truth which, I think, inspired Blessed Basil Moreau to found Holy Cross.
“Being a brother in the Congregation of Holy Cross has given me the opportunity to grow in my spiritual life. I have been blessed over the years to know, live with and work with many in Holy Cross who were inspiring models of what a religious should strive to be. The community has also provided abundant opportunities for me to grow professionally, for which I am grateful. Being a Brother of Holy Cross and a Catholic school educator have both been a good fit for me and a great blessing,” Brother William said.
Jerome Kroetsch was born on July 12, 1933, to Charles and Hilda Kroetsch. He was the seventh of eight children growing up on a dairy farm 80 miles north of Detroit, and attended the local public school from kindergarten through 12th grade. He was drafted into the Army at age 21 and worked for the next two years in the guided missile systems at Fort Bliss, Texas. After his military service, he returned home to the family farm.
“A seed had been planted in my mind, I don’t know where it came from, but it brought thoughts of living the religious life,” Brother Jerome said. “This inner voice became dominant in my thoughts, and I later wrote a letter to join the Brothers of Holy Cross. I entered the postulate program in 1960 and made my first profession in January, 1962.”
In addition to serving in many of the Holy Cross schools in the Midwest Province area for the past 60 years, Brother Jerome also served as a missionary in Dacca, Bangladesh, for eight years; the Virgin Islands/West Indies four years; and Sekondi, Ghana, for 12 years.
In Brother Jerome’s words, “I have greatly enjoyed my 60 years of vocation as a Holy Cross Brother. I didn’t know that Jesus and Mary would send me traveling, but through them, I have lived and worked in many places. I believe, when I traded the farm for my vocation, I found the precious gem spoken of in the Bible.”
Lawrence Skitzki was born the second of four children to Henry and Florence Skitzki in Cleveland, Ohio. Brother Lawrence attributes his vocation to Brother Robert Siegel, his band director at St. Edward High School, who taught him how to play the flute. Following graduation in 1961, he entered the Brothers of Holy Cross and received a Bachelor’s of Business Administration and Education from St. Edward’s University in 1965. His first assignment was Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville.
In 1971, he earned a master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame. After a year at Bishop David High School in Louisville, he returned to Evansville as Comptroller for Southwestern Indiana Mental Health Center. He served there for six years while living with three brothers in the inner city and volunteering in special education for the Diocese of Evansville.
In 1978, Brother Charles Krupp, provincial, appointed him Provincial Steward for the Midwest Province, and he served until 1994 and again from 2003 to 2009. As a provincial steward, he ministered ably to missions in Bangladesh, Liberia and Ghana. He was a board member of the National Association of Treasurers of Religious Institutions (NATRI) from 1989 to 1997 and served on its executive committee from 1993 to 1995.
After a sabbatical year, he worked as an assistant to the General Treasurer for the Sisters of the Holy Cross at Notre Dame for two years. He then moved to Anaheim, California, and worked as a business manager at Cornelia Connelly High School. Later, he took a position as controller at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California, for 14 years. He served as a founding member of the California Private School Self Insurance Group (CAPS-SIG) Board, and is a member of the Midwest Province finance committee and trustee of the Life Development Trust.
In August of 2016 he “retired” and inherited the job of guest master and accountant for the local community in Sarasota, Florida.
Brother Lawrence’s quiet competence brought comfort to the province in difficult times.
Brother Roy was born the eighth of nine children to Archie and Bettie Smith on Aug. 23, 1943, in Indianapolis. From an early age, Brother Roy wanted to follow his two older brothers and attend Cathedral High School. What he did not know at that time was that he would meet the Brothers of Holy Cross, who impressed him as very demanding and caring teachers. He thought he would like to do the same for other people as the brothers did for him and his classmates. While at Cathedral, Roy was recognized for his athletic abilities and was named to the all-state team in football.
Upon graduation, Roy entered the Brothers of Holy Cross and was first professed on Aug.16, 1962. Brother Roy is grateful to Brother James Everett and the other brothers at Cathedral who encouraged him in his religious vocation. After two years at St.. Joseph’s High School he was transferred in 1967 to St. Charles Boys Home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While there, he earned his master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Through his ministry in social work, he has served at Boysville of Michigan, Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Fort Wayne South-Bend and Holy Trinity High School in Chicago.
Currently, Brother Roy is the Director of Development for the Midwest Province.
“The best part of this job is hearing the many stories from grateful donors about the brothers,” Brother Roy said. “After 60 years of religious profession, God has been so good to me and keeps doing good things for me. He has blessed me with a wonderful family, great friends and a wonderful brotherhood.”
50 YEAR JUBILARIAN
“It’s hard to believe that I have been a brother for 50 years, Brother Ken said. “As a boy, I never imagined a vocation to the priesthood, and that was the only vocation in the Church for boys that I knew about. But my exposure to the brothers at St. Edward High School changed that.
“I’m number six of seven kids – five girls and two boys. I have been truly blessed to be a part of a large family that still enjoys getting together.”
In high school, Brother Ken found the brothers were there for him and so many of his classmates. He decided he wanted to be like the brothers who were so generous and helpful to him.
“They were role models I wanted to imitate, and I still try to do that,” Brother Ken said. “I imagined myself as a teacher moderating a lot of clubs and activities. Fortunately, my family and friends were supportive, but with no pressure.
“After I joined and learned more about what the brothers did, I started moving toward work in the brothers’ boys homes,” Brother Ken said. “But I think God had other ideas, and when I was fired from a position there, I went back to working in a high school, which became my primary focus and ministry for about 40 years.
“I have had amazing and unanticipated opportunities as a Brother of Holy Cross, but I think I am most proud of the work I’ve done to preserve the charism, values and traditions of the brothers in our ministries. It has been the most rewarding thing I have done, and it was done with the help and support of hundreds of others who have joined the brothers in being Holy Cross educators.
“I have been blessed to work at Holy Trinity in Chicago, Archbishop Hoban in Akron, Cathedral in Indianapolis – mostly as an administrator. I have also been on the boards of most of our schools and make it a point to keep up with what is happening and how each, in its own way, is preserving and promoting what it means to be a Holy Cross school.
“But my blessings go beyond my connection to our schools. Having been called upon to be a leader among the brothers, I’ve had opportunity to travel and to learn about the lives and ministries of the Congregation of Holy Cross all over the world. Most prominent in that experience is my connection to our brothers in West Africa. We have learned from each other, and visiting our brothers in Ghana has been an experience beyond expectation. Though I have tried to share my gifts and expertise with them, what I have learned from them about being a brother has been a gift from God that has inspired me in many ways.”
25 YEAR JUBILARIAN
Brother Kenneth was born on Aug. 15, 1963, in Kaleo, a few kilometers from Wa in the Upper West Region of Ghana. He is the older of two children of the late Kunditani Ninyaga and Beatrice Bomansaan. Although his parents embraced the Catholic faith, his paternal and maternal grandparents were polygamous and followed the local traditional religion while allowing their offspring to willingly choose their religion. Thus, both Brother Kenneth and his only sister Josephine, like their parents, became fervent Catholics.
Brother Ken had his elementary schooling in Nandom and Kaleo, during which time he became fascinated by altar servers, which he devotedly practiced until he came into contact with his teachers in the technical school run by the Brothers of the Immaculate Conception.
Inspired by the FIC brothers, he felt the call to be one of them. This desire kept coming and going even after he gained admission into the teacher training college. After graduating from college, he taught for six years. This was a period of hide and seek with the Lord that ended when a brother introduced Brother Ken to the Brothers of Holy Cross. He told Brother Ken, “I know you love to work, and you will be happy with the Holy Cross Brothers. I observed Brother Vincent Gross and the others at their center and I know that is where you belong.” At this, he exhausted his excuses and entered the Juniorate at St. Joseph Hall in Sekondi in September, 1994. He made his first vows on June 28, 1997, in Saaka, Fort Portal, in Uganda, East Africa.
Brother Ken returned to the District Center in Ghana and completed a year in theological studies at St. Peter’s Major Seminary, Pedu, Cape Coast.
Then he was assigned in 1998 to what is now called the Holy Cross Technical Institute in Takoradi. He served twice as the principal of the Institute and played key roles especially in the construction of the buildings on the present campus. Assuming the role as administrator for the first time from Brother Jerome Kroetsch in January 2002, the trainees were trained and tested in only the practical. Brother Ken made it a three-year program with a standard syllabus to help the students qualify for the written national approved examination.
Brother Ken studied management, administration and youth development work at the University of Ghana. He later became principal and manager of the car mechanics training center for the Diocese of Sunyani. He was also the director of the Rex Hennel Formation House of the Holy Cross Brothers in Sunyani from May, 2018 to Feb., 2020.
Brother Ken considers himself privileged to take over the management of the Nkanchina Leprosarium Center near Kpandai in the Tamale Archdiocese.
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