In October 2022, at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter, 23 young men were ordained to the transitional diaconate.
This yearly tradition for those studying for the priesthood at the North American College was focused on the reality of family as perhaps never before.
Deacon Steven Vetter, a current student, was surrounded not only by the universal Church but also by family from his home Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota, including fellow Angelicum alumni. His brother, Fr. Nicholas Vetter ‘2020 (Diocese of Bismarck), vested him with the deacon’s stole and dalmatic; his uncle, Msgr. Tom Richter ‘1996 (Diocese of Bismarck), concelebrated the ordination Mass, and his uncle, Bishop Austin Vetter ‘1992, ordinary of Diocese of Helena (Montana) was the ordaining prelate.
Deacon Steven shared about the role of each of them in the life of their family. Bishop Vetter is the youngest of his brothers and sisters, and was always present for important family events. “He was always the practical one, the one to whom we looked up to, but also very accessible. He was a big part of my vocation.” Msgr. Tom Richter had particular zeal for catechesis and reaching the young members of their family. “You would always find him at family gatherings surrounded by the youth and young couples. He would speak to them about the Faith, morals and family life. They were naturally attracted to him and would ask him questions.” Currently a pastor in Dickinson, North Dakota, he works extensively in youth formation. His younger brother, Fr. David Richter is currently a pastor in Minot, North Dakota as well.
The Angelicum is an experience of the Church as a big family.
Fr. Nicholas entered seminary after high school. Deacon Steven shared how he was struck by the new freedom his brother found in following his vocation, a witness which challenged him to take the question of a vocation more seriously.
“It was a gift to study with my brother here at the Angelicum for several years.” He looks forward to sharing the priestly fraternity in their home diocese. “My parents were excellent at forming us in discipline and human virtues, especially practicing the spirit of sacrifice for something bigger than ourselves. They taught me balance in zeal for righteousness with the warm welcome of mercy open to all.”
“Time at the Angelicum has made more clear how my uncles approached ministry, and also my understanding of the priesthood,” Deacon Steven said. “We all received the same intellectual formation. The Dominican tradition is positive and attractive when speaking about the Christian life.
I have a real hope and confidence that I have been given the tools to be able to communicate the Gospel to the people of God, and to teach with clarity, through the tradition of St. Thomas.
“The Angelicum is an experience of the Church as a big family.” Even with so much diversity, there is an underlying principle: “It is the Faith; it’s Jesus…I have grown to love my classmates.” The deacon’s past classes with Fr. Thomas Michelet, O.P. on the Sacraments and Ecclesiology have allowed him to see a new and deeper perspective of the Church and the Faith. “The courses helped me to have the courage and the confidence to know what I am teaching, and what soon will be performing in the Sacraments – but also the humility to recognize that so much more of the Mystery remains to be understood. There is a certain humility required in all of my theological studies that helps me to remain open to what Jesus is doing.”
When asked to reflect on the importance of family and vocation, he said, “One faithful family can change the whole course of a diocese, and really in not that long of a time, in 20-30 years it can have a massive impact. And they don’t have to have all the gifts that maybe you would expect. They just simply need to be faithful to the Church, to Jesus, to the Sacraments. I really look forward to serving the people that way, to build up His Family, His Body, the Church! I cannot imagine any other life.”
Deacon Steven Vetter was ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ on June 12, 2023.
Please pray for him and all those preparing for ordination to the priesthood at the Angelicum.
article originally from: “University Family” edition (Winter 2023)