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Meet the Deans

On July 1, the 10 new deaneries established to better support parishioners across the Diocese of Lansing commenced their work. Let’s meet the new deans who are entrusted with equipping and empowering parish staff, making and forming missionary disciples, seeking the lost and serving the poor.

Northeastern Deanery | Dean: Father Joe Krupp

Hello! My name is Father Joseph Krupp. I was born and raised in Montrose, Michigan, into a loving and faithful family. After college, I was blessed to go to Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and was ordained a priest in 1998. I have served in numerous parishes and assignments all around the diocese and thank God every day that he lets me be a priest.

A bit ago, Bishop Earl asked me to serve as a dean for the Northeastern region. I was shocked, blessed, scared, excited ... all sorts of things. Since then, I have been reading the books they asked me to read, attending the sessions they asked me to attend, and spending a lot of time and prayer trying to figure out what God wants me to do in response to this call.

It’s a funny thing to type, but, for some time, I think we all knew that something had to be done. The number of Catholics regularly supporting the Church and her priests decreases yearly, while the number of demands placed on the priests and Church grow. Many priests find themselves pushed beyond what they feel capable of doing and many of God’s people feel neglected. The response of the diocese to recreate these deaneries and a structure to help us all function in a more team-oriented way is so exciting to me. I am blessed by the innovation and courage that led our diocese to take this action so that we can move from a “hanging on by our teeth” existence to the actual work of being a disciple of Jesus. Numerous meetings, lots of consultations and prayer among laity and priests have led to the creation of this system, which is flexible, sensible and leaves plenty of room to change as the Holy Spirit and/or needs demand.

As for my role in all this, I see a great potential blessing in particular for us priests. As priests, it occurs to me over and over that we simply have to be holy. We can get everything wrong but that. It is so easy to get caught up in the high-pressure, daily challenges and demands of priesthood that we forget the importance of prayer, accountability and personal formation in our own lives. To me, if we priests strive together for holiness and work together on our resources, we will be better able to serve in a healthy and wholesome way.

I am excited to see what our God is going to do in and through us. May he bless our efforts!

Livingston Deanery | Dean: Father Mathias Thelen

I’m deeply committed to the pastoral renewal in the Church, especially in her mission to credibly proclaim the riches of salvation in Jesus. I might be so bold to say that renewal in the Church is part of my call to the priesthood. Having experienced the glorious mercy of Jesus as a teenager, I entered the seminary after the 2002 priest sex abuse crisis hit the news. By the grace of God, I was not discouraged, because I sincerely wanted to help people know Jesus’ faithful love in the midst of severe scandal. How tragic it would be if people left Jesus because of a “Judas.” Named after my great-grandfather, I, too, wanted to replace a Judas in the Church, just like the Apostle Matthias replaced the Judas in the New Testament.

As the former chair of the Realign Resources to Mission (RRM) Committee, which was tasked to study and recommend to Bishop Boyea how to realign all of the resources of the diocese to the mission of evangelization, I have spent countless hours hashing out the best way to renew our diocese. Our RRM team unanimously concluded that sound clerical leadership is the hinge upon which the renewal of the diocese turns. This is not because priests are the most important part of the mission of the Church. No, it’s just that without the healthy priestly fatherhood and leadership of the laity, who are truly co-responsible for the mission of the Church, we cannot be unified, strong and mature in her witness to the world.

There’s a lot I don’t know about how all of this deanery/dean stuff is going to work, but I’m humbled that Bishop Boyea believes I can somehow help the diocese. My hope is that this new structure can truly assist us priests to pursue health and holiness together so that we can effectively pastor and support the laity in your unique mission in the world. Please pray for all of us that we might be simple servants of the priests in our deaneries for the sake of a renewed Church that can credibly proclaim the Gospel of the Lord.

Northern Deanery | Dean: Father Mike Williams

I am from Flint, Michigan, and grew up in a Catholic home with two older brothers and a younger sister. After graduating from high school in 1984, I joined the Franciscan Friars (OFM). I took my simple profession of vows in 1989 and remained with the Franciscan community for seven years. During that time, I served at Holy Cross Parish, Detroit (finishing my undergrad degree at Orchard Lake); Our Lady of Sorrows in Valparaiso, Indiana (as a Franciscan Novitiate); Manhattan, New York (living at the Franciscan Motherhouse and working with Covenant House Ministries); and Dunwoodie, New York (St. Joseph Seminary). In 1992, I felt a longing to serve the people of my childhood diocese and returned to study for the Diocese of Lansing in Cincinnati, Ohio (Mt. St. Mary Seminary).

On June 10, 1995, I was ordained to the priesthood as a priest for the Diocese of Lansing. I served as an associate at St. Thomas Aquinas, East Lansing; St. Robert Bellarmine, Flushing; St. Patrick, Brighton; and Holy Family Parish in Grand Blanc. My first pastorate was at St. Joseph Parish in Adrian.

In 2003, I became the pastor of St. Therese Parish, Lansing and also served as the director of the Office of Propagation of the Faith (Missions) for the diocese. This is where I learned that my least favorite thing about ministry is the paperwork.

And then — 11 years ago, June 2012 — I became the pastor of St. Joseph Church in St. Johns, Michigan. My greatest joy is to be able to celebrate the Eucharist with my brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter where I’m at! 

I’m pleased to see that Bishop Boyea is taking the diocese in such a new and positive direction. I’m excited to be a part of it and look forward to seeing how the Holy Spirit will move us to greater holiness and a broader proclamation of the Gospel of Christ to the world.

Southern Deanery | Dean: Father Todd Koenigsknecht

I am the fourth of 10 children, having grown up on my parents’ dairy farm in Fowler, Michigan. With my twin brother, I was ordained on June 14, 2014. I served in Ann Arbor and Fenton before moving to Sacred Heart in Hudson and St. Mary on the Lake in Manitou Beach in 2018 for my first pastorate. Having grown up in the country, serving in the most rural part of the diocese has been a great joy. I remember moving into the rectory — upon stepping out the front door I could smell the nearby farms and said to myself, “I’m home!”

As Christians, we are intricately connected to one another and we are on mission together. Ecclesiastes says it this way: “Where one alone may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.” (4:12) Jesus sent out the apostles two by two. This has been the history of how the faith grew in our deanery. For example, in 1843, Father Joseph Kindenkins, the pastor in Adrian, would walk once a month the 20 miles from Adrian to Hudson to care for the growing Catholic community. Then walk the 20 miles back! The faith grew together. Together it is sustained and continues to grow.

The goals of Made for Mission and this new deanery structure are helping us remember our roots and more intentionally live them. How easy for priests to get caught up in their own parishes and forget to make time for fraternity, to be together on the mission. How easy for one community to focus on the needs right in front of it and forget the community next door.

I am excited for the intentional fraternity we will have for priests. I am excited for our parishes to intentionally look for ways to support one another where at times there has been unnecessary duplication. I am excited for this opportunity to not only remember our roots but to renew them for our day and our age!

Lansing Deanery | Dean: Father Steve Mattson

I am what is sometimes called a “revert” to the faith. I was raised in a Catholic home, but for a variety of reasons, my family and I left the Catholic Church after I graduated from high school. After nearly 20 years as an Evangelical Protestant, I returned to the Catholic faith, and I later felt the call to the priesthood. I attended the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary outside of Chicago and was ordained a priest in 2005. My first assignment (as parochial vicar) was to St. Thomas Aquinas. I have served as pastor of two parishes, St. Mary Queen of Angels in Swartz Creek (2008-2012) and the Church of the Resurrection in Lansing, beginning in 2012. From 2009-2015, I served the Diocese of Lansing as superintendent of schools. 

Beginning in 2019, I was privileged to serve along with 13 others on the “Realigning Resources for Mission Committee.” It was admittedly a long process, marked by significant prayer, consultation and deliberation. And, though the committee’s recommendations about parish structures were not ultimately accepted by the priests, I am grateful that Bishop Boyea has decided to establish deaneries. He invited me to serve as dean of the Lansing Deanery, and I am pleased to say that our first meeting as a deanery confirmed me in my hope that this new structure will help us establish a season of strategic planning at the parish group and deanery levels. 

It is clear to me that this shift will help parishes free themselves from the negative effects of parochialism. All too often, parishes believe they need to be “one-stop shops.” Such a belief is impractical for small and medium-sized parishes. Even for large parishes, it’s inefficient. Collaboration and coordination can, and I believe will, help us make the most of the resources God has given us. That was the hope for the Realigning Resources for Mission Committee. I’m excited to see what will happen, and I ask all of us to pray for the priests, deacons, staff members and parishioners as we strive to better form missionary disciples in the Lansing Deanery.

Southwestern Deanery | Dean: Father Brendan Walsh

Hello! I am Father Brendan Walsh and I have served as a priest of our Diocese of Lansing for 30 years. For the last 25 years, I have served in the vibrant and growing Catholic Community of St. Joseph Parish in Dexter in Washtenaw County. I am a Michigan State University Spartan ministering in Wolverine Country. I am the oldest of three sons born to the late Eammon Walsh and Barbara Lorence and grew up in Brighton, Michigan. I attended Divine Heart High School Seminary and St. John Provincial Seminary. Prior to ordination, I served as a youth minister in Blissfield and Deerfield in Lenawee County. I enjoy playing golf, working on my ’64 Chevy pick-up and watching the Detroit Tigers.

As a priest, my greatest joy is celebrating the sacraments with the people of God. To bring the graces and gifts of God at their happiest times and their times of greatest need. To celebrate a wedding, the joy of a baptism or the blessing of the Eucharist is a great honor. To bring a family comfort when they grieve the loss of a loved one, or to bring the healing peace of reconciliation to a person in need, is a sacred honor and gift for me as a servant of God. To build community in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, as a youth minister, as a priest and as a pastor continues to be my greatest joy. 

As a dean, I accept the call and opportunity to help build community and fellowship with my brother priests in the southwest side of Washtenaw County. Together, we will explore how we can better serve the people of God through preaching the word, calling people to service and celebrating the sacraments. We will strive to support one another in ministry so our people receive the best spiritual care. It is my hope we can help the faithful of the Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Milan and Saline Catholic communities to see the value of collaboration in ministry. Then, this united ministry will help us live, grow and celebrate our Catholic faith for all to see and for all to experience with joy and thanksgiving. 

Western Deanery | Dean: Father Jim Rolph

My name is Father Jim Rolph and I’ve been assigned as the dean of the Western Deanery. I was ordained in 2014 and spent three years as a parochial vicar at St. John’s, Fenton. From there, I spent five years as the chaplain at Powers Catholic High School, Flint. I loved both of those assignments and know that both of them have helped to form me into the priest that I am today. Then, in the summer of 2022 I moved to serve as the pastor at Immaculate Heart of Mary, Lansing. 

While I’ve only been in Lansing for one year as the pastor at IHM, it’s evident that there are so many opportunities for mission, evangelization and discipleship. I’m so excited to work collaboratively with other pastors and staff so that we can achieve the greatest possible good. I believe that working together in our groupings and deaneries will better enable each individual to maximize their gifts for the greater glory of God. As we work within our own parish communities and collectively as a deanery, we recognize that a victory for one is a victory for all — a rising tide floats all ships. 

My goal as a dean is to allow individual priests, staff and parishes to flourish. At times, that will mean working within their own communities. But often, it will mean working together and collaborating. We are not in competition with one another; we are supporting one another in the Great Commission: to go and make disciples. I look forward to facilitating these conversations and ministry in such a way that we as a diocese can bear abundant fruit for God’s glory.

While this structure is new, I do believe that God has led us to this point because He has great things in store for us. I know that change is never easy, but it is very often necessary. And when engaged with a positive attitude, I’m sure that it will lead to great things. God bless!

Ann Arbor Deanery | Dean: Father Bill Ashbaugh

My name is Rev. Bill Ashbaugh, and as the new dean of the six Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti parishes , I would like to introduce myself and share some of my hopes for this new deanery structure Bishop Boyea is implementing in our diocese. 

I have been a priest for 30 years and have had various parish assignments: St. Pius X in Flint (’94), St. Thomas the Apostle parish (’94-’97), as pastor at St. Mary’s in Westphalia (’97-’01) and St. Joseph in Howell (’01-’09). I am now pastor (since ’09) of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Ann Arbor. I also served the Diocese of Lansing as the director of diaconate formation, was a contributor to FAITH Magazine in its Spiritual Fitness section, was liaison to the Charismatic Renewal in the diocese and served on various diocesan committees over the years. 

On a personal level, I enjoy the outdoors, playing tennis, going on pilgrimages, reading and having a good meal with families and friends. 

A much deeper joy, however, is being a priest and sharing my faith in Jesus Christ with others. It is really a mystery how God enters each of our lives, and I continue to ponder it every day! The local churches are diverse and full of the gifts of God and we have been given a big mission from Jesus! 

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28:19-20)

My hopes for this new deanery structure is that it will further assist us to work together for that end! We need to learn to work together to share our gifts and resources more effectively. Because of the strong cultural influences and cultural currents that oppose the Gospel, “making disciples” is difficult. All the more reason we need to work together. My role as dean will also be to help coordinate these local efforts with those of our diocese. Please pray that God may bless this effort! 

Jackson Deanery | Dean: Father Tim MacDonald

I am the youngest of six kids, three of whom are priests! My oldest brother, Father Eben, is a pastor in Los Angeles. Father Adam MacDonald is a vocations director for the Divine Word Missionaries. I was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. After studying in Rome, I was ordained a priest in the Jubilee Year 2000 by Bishop emeritus Carl F. Mengeling. My pastoral assignments have included St. Gerard in Lansing, Most Holy Trinity in Fowler, Holy Redeemer in Burton and Our Lady of Fatima in Michigan Center. I am currently the pastor of Queen of the Miraculous Medal in Jackson and the administrator for St. Catherine Laboure in Concord. I have been the vicar forane of Jackson since 2014 and I was named vicar general of the diocese that same year. 

During my years in seminary, I had the chance to serve Mass for Pope St. John Paul the Great in the Vatican. I gave holy Communion to St. Teresa in Calcutta shortly before her death in 1997, and I was ordained a transitional deacon by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1999, the man who would go on to be named Pope Benedict XVI. These experiences have helped me to better understand the universal Church as One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. Seeing so much of the world also made me realize that there truly is no place like home!

The pastors in Jackson and the surrounding area have a well-established cooperation among our parishes. In 2021, we consolidated our elementary schools with Lumen Christi High School to become The Jackson Catholic Schools, the first of its kind in the diocese. We meet together, pray together, eat together and plan together, all in an effort to be and to make intentional missionary disciples who know Jesus and who are equipped to tell others about his love for them. As priests, we hope to support one another, challenge each other and be accountable to our agreements and shared vision. As pastors, we hope to build bridges between our parishes and flocks in hopes that all of our faithful will join us in this new missionary endeavor.