Notre Dame Community Celebrates Sacrament of Holy Orders

The Most Reverend William A. Wack, C.S.C., bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, conferred the Sacrament of Holy Orders on eight members of the Congregation of Holy Cross on Saturday, April 10. The Congregation of Holy Cross Vocations office told the Rover that this year’s class was “one of the largest Ordination classes the Congregation has had in the last few decades.” 

Friends, family, and other members of the Notre Dame community filled the Basilica of the Sacred Heart  for the nearly two-and-a-half hour liturgy to witness the priestly ordination of Rev.  Edward Dolphin, C.S.C.,  Rev. Nicholas Guiney, C.S.C., Rev. Stephen Jakubowski, C.S.C., Rev. Ryan Kerr, C.S.C., Rev. Mr. Tyler Kreipke, C.S.C., Rev. Peter Puleo, C.S.C., Rev.Michael Ryan, C.S.C., Rev. Brian Vetter, C.S.C. 

During the Mass, before the Bishop conferred the Sacrament of Holy Orders, members of the congregation offered recommendations on behalf of their respective deacon to the Bishop. Josh Johnson, a freshman in Dillon Hall, reflected on his rector, then-Deacon Ed Dolphin, stating, “He preaches with unique wisdom and gentleness. He conveys spiritual lessons that stir within the soul desire for God.” 

Residents of O’Neill Hall offered testimony on behalf of their rector, then-Deacon Michael Ryan, who himself was a resident of O’Neill Hall before entering the Congregation of Holy Cross. They remarked, “Deacon Mike’s dedication to the Sacraments and Word inspires us and O’Neill. He leads Eucharistic adoration Tuesday nights and organizes opportunities for confession. He oversees the hall retreat and assists at Masses.”

Father Tyler Kreipke previously taught courses in engineering at Notre Dame while a deacon. One of his former students reflected on how he made her feel welcome from her very first day of college, recalling, “I see and feel the light of God in him and everything he does, even when he gave me a ‘B’ or took away the soldering iron … I’ve witnessed firsthand his unwavering dedication and profound commitment to serving God and the community. There’s no one I could recommend more for ordination.”

Following the reflections, the crowd erupted into thunderous applause, signaling that the deacons had been officially deemed worthy to be ordained priests. In his homily following the testimonials, Bishop Wack commented on this unique practice of communal recommendation in the Congregation of Holy Cross, stating, “Not many congregations or dioceses do that, you know, all that’s really required is that our provincial Father Bill Lies says, “We think they’re worthy.” And then we show our appreciation by applauding. But we in the congregation of Holy Cross still do this.”

Bishop Wack reflected on the word “present,” the singular word any of the deacons had said before the congregation expressed their recommendations for the priesthood. He said that “present,” in the context of the ordination, fundamentally means, “I come before you as someone like the apostles, who were ordinary men, but whose hearts burned with zeal for the Lord and the Gospel.” 

He concluded his remarks, pleading, “And brothers and sisters, please, please, please pray for your priests. Pray for these and all of those who serve us, pray for the brothers and Holy Cross and the sisters, all of us who serve you, please pray for us.” 

Following the homily, the candidates underwent a verbal examination from the Bishop on their willingness to serve the Church, and individually approached the Bishop to affirm their obedience to their superiors and the Church. Shortly after, the candidates lay prostrate before the altar during the chanting of the Litany of the Saints. 

The Bishop then ordained each deacon through the laying of his hands on their heads. Then all eight men knelt before the altar and all of the Holy Cross priests in attendance laid their hands on each newly ordained priest one by one. 

After the laying of hands, the newly ordained priests were anointed with the chrism oil and changed into their vestments with the assistance of one of their brother priests. They then found their new seats behind the altar. 

Fr. Brian Vetter, former assistant rector of Baumer Hall and current middle school teacher through the Alliance for Catholic Education program (ACE), told the Rover, “I am excited now as a priest to serve as a sacramental presence of Christ to others, especially my students, whether that is presiding at school Masses or Sunday Masses, or hearing confessions during lunch and recess time. It is a vocation I am very thankful for, and I am thankful that I have had so many family and friends to support me in it this weekend.”

Fr. Peter Puleo, currently assigned to St. Joseph Parish in South Bend, told the Rover, ​​My experience of the liturgy and of the whole weekend was one of humility, feeling so little in comparison with the power and scope of the Sacrament, the vocation, and the mission.” 

He continued, “Lying prostrate during the litany of saints, kneeling before the bishop, having family, friends, and community ask for my blessing, and shaking under the weight of the consecration at my first Mass all threw my own littleness into relief against the faith and hope of God’s Church.”

Fr. Michael Ryan, Rector of O’Neill Hall, reflected on the surreal experience of the past weekend stating: “The weekend was filled with grace. Friends of mine who I hadn’t seen in some time were there and my entire family. The Basilica does such a good job.”

Fr. Ryan celebrated Mass at the Basilica on Sunday, the day after his ordination. He told the Rover, “To spend so much time watching others celebrate Mass made the first time I celebrated it really surreal but an honor. At the end of Mass I asked my parents to give me their blessing, that was the most emotional part of the weekend for me.”

Next year, five men will be ordained priests in the Congregation of Holy Cross.

Nico Schmitz is a senior in the Program of Liberal Studies from Pasadena, California. You can reach him at

Photo Credit: Peter Ringenberg/University of Notre Dame

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