Five men will be ordained Detroit priests this Saturday: Get to know them

Left to right, transitional Deacons Ryan Walters, Michael Selvaraj, Andrew Smith, Richard Dorsch Jr. and Jeremy Schupbach will begin their ministries as priests of the Archdiocese of Detroit when Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron ordains them to the presbyterate at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 27, at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit. (Photos by Marek Dziekonski | Special to Detroit Catholic)

As the Year of Prayer for Priestly Vocations ends, archbishop to ordain Deacons Dorsch, Schupbach, Selvaraj, Smith and Walters

DETROIT — On the eve of Pentecost, Saturday, May 27, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron will preside over the end of the Year of Prayer for Priestly Vocations in a fitting way: with the ordination of five new priests for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

At 10 a.m., the archbishop will lay hands on transitional Deacons Richard Dorsch Jr., Jeremy Schupbach, Michael Selvaraj, Andrew Smith and Ryan Walters, ordaining them “priests forever,” as the liturgical rite of ordination proclaims.

The five men, who have been preparing for ordination through their studies and formation at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, will be the first priests ordained for the archdiocese since 2021. Last year, the archdiocese did not ordain any new priests, prompting Archbishop Vigneron to call for an extraordinary year of prayer for vocations.

The new priests' parish and ministry assignments will be announced during the Mass, which will take place at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit. The ordination Mass will be livestreamed on the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Facebook page, the cathedral's Facebook page, and at www.aod.org/livemasses.

Each of the men responded to a questionnaire earlier this year, first published by Mosaic, the magazine of Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

Deacon Richard Dorsch Jr.

Age: 31
Home parish: St. Thecla, Clinton Township
Internship parish: St. Mary, Royal Oak
Favorite saint: St. Teresa of Calcutta
Hobbies: Cook, drive (somewhere or anywhere)

What was the highlight of your time at Sacred Heart Major Seminary?

One of the highlights of my time at Sacred Heart has been welcoming guests to the seminary — discerners here for a long weekend, alumni wanting to walk the halls again, or parish groups/schools interested in knowing more about this element of the Church. What happens inside these walls is nothing short of life changing, and getting to share even a fraction of that story with those who visit makes Christ and his Church almost tangible as we walk the halls.

What has been one or two highlights of your time serving as a transitional deacon?

Two highlights of being a deacon include 1.) losing my name and 2.) distributing Holy Communion. It is rare for someone to address me as “Richard or Richie” anymore; instead I am “Deacon.” This hit me as I was greeting parishioners after Mass over the summer. There is a certain possessiveness in that greeting. I have in a sense become theirs — their deacon, their minister — I am no longer my own, I am theirs, I am God’s. What a responsibility, what a privilege.

Second, there is something so powerful about distributing Holy Communion after you have proclaimed the Gospel and preached about the very person you are about to receive and distribute in the Blessed Sacrament. Over time you also begin to know the names and stories of your communicants and that Eucharistic encounter becomes even more real as Jesus comes into their personal lives!

How are you preparing for your priestly ordination?

I am preparing for my priestly ordination by maintaining my discipline of prayer and study. I also plan on extending my Lenten practices through to my ordination day as these resolutions have kept Jesus more in the foreground of my day-to-day life.

What kind of priest do you want to be?

As mentioned in the recently released vocations video, I want to be a priest that is both faithful and forgotten: faithful in getting up everyday and ministering to God’s people in whatever might come about that day, and forgotten so that, after an encounter with someone, they do not necessarily remember me but they remember Christ.

What are you looking forward to after being ordained?

The thing I look forward to most about priestly ordination is being able to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I will never forget during a mission trip to India where I was serving with the Missionaries of Charity and Mother Superior approached me after Mass one day and asked, “Promise me my dear brother, that, not if, but when you are ordained, you will come back and do for us what only you can do — offer the Mass and make Jesus present in Holy Communion.” There is nothing more supernatural or more powerful than offering the Eucharist and bringing Jesus to his people. May I never take that privilege for granted.

Deacon Jeremy Schupbach

Age: 27
Home parish: St. Daniel, Clarkston
Internship parish: St. Frances Cabrini, Allen Park
Favorite saint: St. Longinus
Hobbies: Reading philosophy and fantasy books, writing, playing sports or working out, road trips, going camping or hiking or skiing, fishing, talking to friends on the phone, playing piano

What was the highlight of your time at Sacred Heart Major Seminary?

We have had so many formative experiences, and it is very hard to narrow it down, but probably the best of all was our 30-day retreat, making the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Not only was that a time of profound intimacy with God, but that was also when my sense of the Lord’s calling attained a new level of certitude. I walked away from the retreat with a new understanding of how deep one can go with the Lord in prayer, and a profound knowledge that not only was Jesus calling me to the priesthood, but that He wanted me. He desired the relationship with me that is unique to a life of priestly celibacy. And that understanding — of being wanted in that way by Jesus Himself — that was totally life-changing.

What has been one or two highlights of your time serving as a transitional deacon?

The first time I baptized someone was really crazy for me. I was praying afterwards, and as I sat before the Lord I couldn’t stop making the motion of pouring water with my hand, because I just couldn’t believe that when I made that simple little action, the Holy Spirit came and took up residence in those children’s hearts, and configured them for eternal life. It is just so wild that He would do that, and that it happened because of something so elementary that I, as the Church’s minister, did with my hand!

Another powerful moment was after a homily I preached during September. I had been on break for a few weeks during the transition from the summer to the school year, and so I had not preached in a while. That break allowed me to re-enter into the newness of preaching, and re-discover that this ministry is part of who I am now. That was a powerful realization, and my new identity as a deacon sunk in a little bit deeper that day.

How are you preparing for your priestly ordination?

The most significant preparation was a retreat that I made during Christmas break. During those eight days of silence I prayed for the Lord to allow me to experience the way that my identity would change through being ordained. The grace that I received in response was, in a word, that at ordination my heart, my very being, would become His in a new way, and that I needed to understand this as a foundational fact about myself. And then, by understanding and accepting this, I would naturally be led to live that out.

What kind of priest do you want to be?

A lover. I want to be a man who is animated by love for God and for His people. We all know people who are so passionate about a person, or a hobby, or an idea, that when they are around that person, or doing that activity, or talking about that idea, they come alive. Their actions become more organic and more free, they are totally engaged, and they aren’t even thinking about themselves because they are so focused on the thing they love. It is impossible not to be impressed by people like that. I want my priestly ministry to be like that. I want to say Mass, to hear confessions, to pray with people, to anoint the sick, etc., with that kind of love burning within me.

What are you looking forward to after being ordained?

I’m looking forward to saying Mass and hearing confessions. It is impossible for it not to be that! I especially can’t wait to make the mercy of God the Father present through absolving sins in confession. Every confession is so private, but also has the potential to be a totally life-changing encounter, even though no one may ever know about it. How crazy is it that I could potentially be involved in moments like that on a regular basis?

I also look forward to preaching more frequently. A priest once told me that when you are preaching almost daily, it changes you, you begin to feel as though there were a “living word” within you, a new willingness and ability to give verbal witness at any time to the love of God that dwells within. I hope and desire that I will be formed in that way by my preaching ministry.

Deacon Michael Selvaraj

Age: 33
Home parish: St. Fabian, Farmington Hills
Internship parish: St. Daniel, Clarkston
Favorite saint: St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Francis Xavier and St. Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney
Hobbies: Golf, cricket, skeet shooting and fishing

What was the highlight of your time at Sacred Heart Major Seminary?

I would describe my time at Sacred Heart as a time growing in intimacy with Christ the Lord and his Church. It was a time when I allowed my heart to be pierced by his love that sought after me since I first heard my calling to pursue priesthood as a vocation. The Lord illuminated the desire He had placed in my heart, purified it over the years of formation, and now he is about to bring it to fulfillment.

What has been one or two highlights of your time serving as a transitional deacon?

As a transitional deacon preaching the Word of God has been a highlight because it has deepened his love for me and mine for him. I see God’s footprints in their entirety throughout Scripture and encountering him in this unique way is the good news of salvation that I have come to believe in, teach, and practice.

How are you preparing for priestly ordination?

I am staying faithful to the promises I made at my diaconate ordination and praying for all those to whom I will minister to in his name. To put it simply, I am trying to “keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith” as the author of the book of Hebrews describes it.

What kind of priest do you want to be?

I would like to be a priest after Christ’s own heart who is faithful and compassionate toward the weak. In uniting myself with Him who is the principal author and the invisible worker of grace within me, I wish to be a dispenser of His grace. Finally, I want to be a priest who strives for holiness so that I always bring glory to God.

What are you looking forward to after being ordained?

I am looking forward to working with all of my brother priests in union with the archbishop, as a minister of God, and most especially to celebrate the holy sacrifice of the Mass. As His instrument of mercy, I am excited to be able to offer God’s mercy through the sacrament of reconciliation.

Deacon Andrew Smith

Age: 39
Home parish: St. Peter, Mount Clemens
Internship parish: National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica, Royal Oak
Favorite saint: St. Thomas More
Hobbies: Cook, watch movies and garden

What was the highlight of your time at Sacred Heart Major Seminary?

On my path to the priesthood, the most significant event of my time at Sacred Heart was the 30-day silent retreat in Broomtree, South Dakota. For me, this was a time to both deepen my relationship with God and allow him to reveal His plan for my future. It really is amazing how much God speaks in silence when we slow down and make room for Him to speak. This retreat confirmed for me that God was calling me to the priesthood and taught me to embrace God and prayer in a new way.

What has been one or two highlights of your time serving as a transitional deacon?

I would say that two of the highlights of my time as a transitional deacon have been preaching and baptisms. Preaching has become something I truly love, especially the preparation process where I never know at the beginning how God is going to direct the homily. Baptisms have been a highlight, and I have been able to celebrate several during my time at the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica. Two of the most significant were my first baptism — which was for my cousin's son — and baptizing the children of two high school classmates at my home parish.

How are you preparing for your priestly ordination?

The main way I have been preparing is through prayer. In addition to the regular holy hours and prayers I say, I recently completed the retreat required by canon law for all candidates for ordination. This retreat was a time of intense prayer and focus on more deeply understanding what it means to be a priest and what I will be receiving at ordination. I have also been praying with the prayers the priest says at Mass to be better prepared to lead the people at Mass and pray through the Mass myself.

What kind of priest do you want to be?

I want to be a priest who has a shepherd's heart for his people — one who is known to love his people and is willing to sacrifice to lead them closer to God. I want to be the kind of priest whose people know that he is always there for them and available when they need him, in times of joy and in times of sorrow. Above all, though, I want to be known as a holy priest, one who people see as a man of prayer. This is one of the greatest witnesses a priest can give to his people.

What are you looking forward to after being ordained?

After ordination, the two things I am most looking forward to are offering Mass and hearing confessions. The Mass is the highest form of prayer we have, and to be able to offer that prayer to God is the greatest act a priest can do. And being able to be an instrument of God's mercy in the sacrament of confession, offering to others the healing I have received so many times myself, will be a great joy. Saying Mass and offering confession are the two most important things a priest can do, and I look forward to both with great excitement.

Deacon Ryan Walters

Age: 29
Home parish: SS. Cyril and Methodius (Slovak), Sterling Heights
Internship parish: Guardian Angels, Clawson
Favorite saint: St. John Vianney
Hobbies: Golf, spending time with friends

What was the highlight of your time at Sacred Heart Major Seminary?

The overall highlight was getting to fall deeper in love with Jesus, first of all, but on the human level it was being able to cultivate authentic friendships with other men in the house. Being able to have true friends who will soon be my brother priests is something that I truly thank Sacred Heart for. I think this is a critical aspect of seminary life because I will need to have these brothers in my life in ministry, and I will be able to be there for them in the joys and challenges of the priestly office.

What has been one or two highlights of your time serving as a transitional deacon?

I have thoroughly enjoyed being in the parish on weekends at Guardian Angels in Clawson getting to know the parishioners there. Walking with the people of God has been a humbling experience as a deacon due to the trust that they have placed in me as a minister of God.

How are you preparing for priestly ordination?

I am preparing for priestly ordination by immersing myself in Sacred Scripture, maintaining a healthy and active prayer life, and conforming my daily activities to be more in line with what God wants of me, rather than just following my own will. The surrendering of my will to God’s will has helped to conform my heart closer to His Sacred Heart and brings me consolation and joy, thus aiding in the process of bringing others to come to know Jesus in their own lives.

What kind of priest do you want to be?

Even though my immediate answer seems broad, it is what comes to my mind first: I want to be a good priest. A good priest is one that prays often, striving every day to live a life of charity through his personal life as well as his ministerial life. A good priest is someone who is approachable, hospitable, kind, generous and self-giving. This is the type of priest I wish to be.

What are you looking forward to after being ordained?

I am very excited to be able to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on behalf of the people of God, and to be able to be a tool of mercy through the sacrament of reconciliation. The authority with which Jesus entrusted the apostles, being handed down to me, is something I am unworthy of. Through confidence in God and His task for me in my life, I hope with a humble confidence that I will be able to carry out and celebrate faithfully these two amazing sacraments for the salvation of souls.

Watch the ordination Mass live

The ordination Mass, which begins at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit, will be livestreamed on the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Facebook page, the cathedral’s Facebook page, and at www.aod.org/livemasses.



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