Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted ordained Dan Vanyo to the priesthood June 2 at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral.
He joins 254 diocesan and religious priests who serve the Phoenix Diocese by offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, conferring the sacraments and overseeing aspects of parish life. Many of them were on hand to offer congratulations to their newest brother.
That included a handful of local priests and some from St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver who played key roles in Fr. Vanyo’s discernment. Fr. Vanyo, 43, began discerning his call to the priesthood at age 32 when a friend through a local Catholic singles group was discerning religious life.
“I never discerned anything,” Fr. Vanyo said. He researched some religious orders, but it wasn’t until a day for prospective diocesan seminarians that he reached a peaceful conclusion.
“They need help here,” Fr. Vanyo, then a hospice nurse, recalled thinking. “That’s when I gave the Lord my fiat. If you open the door, I’ll walk through it.”
He ran into Fr. Chauncey Winkler, who he knew from the local Catholic Retreat for Young Singles group and told him, “I think this is where I could be of some help.”
He entered the seminary in 2005 and was among a reported 487 ordinands nationally who will join the ranks of priesthood this year. Bishop Olmsted read from the Ordination Rite during Mass.
He reminded the crowd, including family and friends who filled the first row on both sides, that Jesus chose certain disciples to carry out publicly in His name, a priestly office. He reminded the diocese’s newest priest of his roles of Christ the teacher, priest and shepherd.
“Carry out the ministry of Christ the priest with constant joy and love,” the bishop said. He also challenged Fr. Vanyo to bring the people together in one family. That’s a challenge the priest plans to meet in his new home, Queen of Peace Parish in Mesa. He will serve as parochial vicar starting July 1.
“I am most excited that I will be able to hear people’s confessions. When the Holy Spirit touches the hearts of the penitents with His grace in the confessional, I will be blessed to be a witness to it,” Fr. Vanyo said.
In addition to a parish presence, Fr. Vanyo will serve as chaplain at Seton Catholic Preparatory High School in Chandler. Fr. Vanyo will offer his first liturgy, a Mass of Thanksgiving, at his home parish Holy Cross in Mesa, at 10 a.m. June 3.