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Three new permanent deacons ordained for our diocese June 21st

"...'put on Christ' and your life will be full of his love; it will be a fruitful life." - Pope Francis
 
With three ordination Masses in May and June we have much to celebrate in our diocese! On Wednesday, June 21 at 7 p.m., Bishop Walkowiak ordained Dennis Rybicki, Dean Vernon and Lance Walters to the permanent diaconate. On Saturday, June 3rd at 10 a.m., Bishop Walkowiak ordained Father Stephen Durkee, Father Steven Geerling and Father Kyle Kilpatrick to the priesthood. Bishop Walkowiak ordained Michael Steffes to the Order of Deacons on Tuesday, May 9 at 7 p.m. - Links to the Mass videos and photos may be found below. 
 
Please continue to pray for these men as they respond to the call to serve the Lord and his people as priests and deacons.

Ordination Masses at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew

All Masses were held at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew. Family and friends attended, or joined the celebration by watching live online. Details below. 

WATCH LIVE

All ordination Masses were livestreamed at http://bit.ly/DOGRLivestream and on the diocesan Facebook page (Diocese of Grand Rapids).  
 

Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate - June 21, 2017 at 7 p.m. 

 
Deacon Dennis J. Rybicki, 48, is the son of George andHeadshot: Dennis Rybicki Barbara Rybicki. He has one sister Denise. He is a member of the Cathedral of Saint Andrew. Deacon Dennis attended Aquinas College where he completed a bachelor’s degree in music education and liturgical music in 1993. He received his master’s degree in education from Calvin College in 1996. He completed his graduate studies for ordination through Aquinas College and the University of Notre Dame.
 
He currently serves as the director of sacred music for the Diocese of Grand Rapids as well as campus minister and choral director at Catholic Central High School.
 
Deacon Dennis is married to Annette and they have two children, Clare and Cecilia. He completed his pastoral internship at Holy Family Parish, Sparta, under the mentorship of Monsignor Terrance Stewart.
 
On July 1, as assigned by Bishop Walkowiak, Deacon Rybicki will begin his appointment as deacon of the Cathedral of Saint Andrew, Grand Rapids.  
 
 
Headshot: Dean VernonDeacon Dean M. Vernon, 53, is the son of Deacon Kenneth (retired, ordained in 1976) and Pauline (deceased) Vernon. Deacon Dean is originally from Milwaukee, Wisc. and grew up in a large family of seven brothers and six sisters. Deacon Dean is married to Lori and they have seven children and six grandchildren. He received a bachelor of science degree with a double major in psychology and communication from Carroll University. He completed a master’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. His studies for ordination were completed through Aquinas College and the University of Notre Dame.
 
He has worked as a school psychologist for Grand Rapids Public Schools for the past 29 years. He completed his pastoral internship at St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Grand Rapids, under the mentorship of Monsignor Ernie Schneider. Deacon Dean and his wife are members of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Grand Rapids.
 
On July 1, as assigned by Bishop Walkowiak, Deacon Vernon will begin his appointment as deacon of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Grand Rapids. 
 
 
Headshot: Lance WaltersDeacon Lance A. Walters, 53, is the son of Alfred (deceased) and Marjorie Walters of St. John the Baptist Parish, Ypsilanti, Mich. He has five siblings: Edward, Carol, Kathy, Bob and Jim. Deacon Lance attended Michigan State University, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in food science and human nutrition in 1985. He completed his studies for ordination through Aquinas College and the University of Notre Dame.
 
Deacon Lance is married to Lynn and they have three children; Marcel, Leslie and Owen. Deacon Lance and his wife are members of St. Patrick-St. Anthony Parish in Grand Haven.
 
He completed his pastoral internship at St. Mary’s Parish, Spring Lake, under the mentorship of Father Dave Gross.
 
On July 1, as assigned by Bishop Walkowiak, Deacon Walters will begin his appointment as deacon of St. Patrick-St. Anthony Catholic Community, Grand Haven. 
 
Read more about these men and their journeys to the permanent diaconate in our June 2017 FAITH Grand Rapids magazine.
 


Ordination to the Order of Deacons  was May 9, 2017 at 7 p.m.
 

 
Deacon Michael M. Steffes Jr., 28, is the son of Mike (Rhonda)Headshot: Seminarian Michael Steffes Steffes and Mary Kay (Tom) Schmitz of St. Patrick Parish, Portland. He has three siblings: Jacob, Joe, and Naomi. He attended the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn., where he received a bachelor’s degree in 2014. Deacon Michael will enter his final year of seminary at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, Ill., in fall 2017 and will receive his Master of Divinity degree in spring 2018. He completed his pastoral internship at Our Lady of Consolation Parish, Rockford, under the mentorship of Father Anthony Russo. He was ordained to the order of deacons by Bishop Walkowiak at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew on May 9 and will be ordained to the priesthood in 2018. Congratulations and blessings Deacon Michael!
 
Read more of Deacon Michael's story from our March 2017 FAITH Grand Rapids magazine.
 

Ordination to the Presbyterate (Priesthood)  was June 3, 2017 at 10 a.m.

 
Headshot: Deacon Kyle KilpatrickFather Kyle J. Kilpatrick, 30, is the son of Kevin and Brenda Kilpatrick of St. Michael Parish, Coopersville. He has two siblings: Alex and Connor. Father Kyle's home parish is St. Michael in Coopersville. His hobbies include reading, playing frisbee and the guitar.
 
Kyle attended Grand Valley State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 2009. He received his Master of Divinity degree and a baccalaureate in sacred theology from the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, Ill., in spring 2017. Father Kyle completed his pastoral internship at the Shrine of St. Francis Xavier and Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Grand Rapids, under the mentorship of Father José Luis Quintana. Kyle attended Grand Valley State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 2009. He received his Master of Divinity degree and a baccalaureate in sacred theology from the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, Ill., in spring 2017. Father Kyle completed his pastoral internship at the Shrine of St. Francis Xavier and Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Grand Rapids, under the mentorship of Father José Luis Quintana. He was ordained a transitional deacon on May 17, 2016 and ordained to the priesthood on June 3, 2017.

He celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 3, at the Shrine of St. Francis Xavier and Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, 250 Brown St. SE, Grand Rapids.
 
On July 1, as announced by Bishop Walkowiak, he will begin his appointment as parochial vicar of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Holland.  
 
 
Father Stephen J. Durkee, 27 is the son of DouglasHeadshot: Deacon Stephen Durkee Durkee of St. Patrick Parish, Parnell, and Mary Szymczak Durkee of Holy Family Parish, Caledonia. He has three siblings: Erin, David and Holly. His home parish is Holy Family in Caledonia. Some of the things Father Stephen enjoys doing in his free time include watching and playing sports; reading and blogging, and playing board games and cards with family.
 
He attended the University of Saint Thomas, St. Paul, Minn., where he completed a bachelor’s degree in 2013. He received a Master of Divinity degree and baccalaureate in sacred theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, Ill., in spring 2017. He was ordained a transitional deacon on May 17, 2016 and ordained to the priesthood on June 3, 2017.
 
Father Stephen completed his pastoral internship at St. Patrick Parish, Parnell, under the mentorship of Father Mark Peacock.
 
He celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 4 at Holy Family Catholic Church, 9669 Kraft Ave., Caledonia.
 
On July 1, as announced by Bishop Walkowiak, he will begin his appointment as parochial vicar of Our Lady of Consolation Parish in Rockford.
 
 
Headshot: Deacon Steven GeerlingFather Steven W. Geerling, 43, is the son of William (deceased) and Kay Geerling. He has two siblings: David and Susan. Father Steven's home parish is Blessed Sacrament in Grand Rapids. In his freetime he enjoys playing the piano, golf, running and kayaking.
 
Father Steven attended Aquinas College, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in 1996. He received his Master of Divinity degree in spring 2017 from the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, Ill. Steven attended Aquinas College, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in 1996. He received his Master of Divinity degree in spring 2017 from the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, Ill. In 2015, he completed his pastoral internship at St. Jude Parish, Grand Rapids, under the mentorship of Father Tom Page and Deacon Larry Hoogeboom. He was ordained a transitional deacon on May 17, 2016 and ordained to the priesthood on June 3, 2017.
 
He celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 4 at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 2275 Diamond Ave. NE, Grand Rapids.
 
On July 1, as announced by Bishop Walkowiak, he will begin his appointment as parochial vicar of St. John Vianney Parish in Wyoming. 
 
 
Resources
GR Priests (Priestly vocations in the Diocese of Grand Rapids)
About priesthood | About the diaconate (USCCB)