They came to the priesthood through different paths, but Deacons Tibai, Carlin, Pellican, Mabee and Fricke find a common purpose in Christ

DETROIT — Though not under quite the circumstances they’d imagined, five men will nevertheless be ordained to the priesthood next month for the Archdiocese of Detroit. 

Transitional Deacons Mark Tibai, John Carlin, David Pellican, Andrew Mabee and Colin Fricke will join the ranks of the presbyterate after studying for years and undergoing spiritual, human and theological formation at Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

Unlike in prior years, when a single ordination Mass would be celebrated, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron will ordain each of the five in separate Masses at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in light of social distancing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The schedule for the ordination Masses — which will be livestreamed on Sacred Heart’s Facebook page and at mosaic.shms.edu — is as follows:

  • Deacon Tibai: 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 1
  • Deacon Carlin: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 4
  • Deacon Pellican: 10 a.m. Saturday, June 6
  • Deacon Mabee: 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 8
  • Deacon Fricke: 10 a.m. Saturday, June 13

To help the faithful get to know them, Detroit Catholic asked each of the soon-to-be priests to respond to a brief questionnaire:

Deacon Mark Andrew Tibai

Age: 31
Parents: Mark E. Tibai and Susan Tibai
Education: Seton Home Study School; Monroe County Community College; Sacred Heart Major Seminary (Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Master in Divinity, Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology)
Home parish: Divine Grace Parish, Carleton
Ordination date: 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 1
First assignment: St. Fabian Parish, Farmington Hills
Hobbies: Camping, hunting (deer, squirrel, rabbit, turkey, coyote, pheasant and more!), fishing, archery (hunting and marksmanship), firearms (hunting and marksmanship), playing video games, watching movies, woodworking, refurbishing old items (cast iron, firearms, tools, etc.), bicycle riding, inline skating, ice hockey, listening to music and reading

What were you doing before you entered the seminary?

I was a full-time student at Monroe County Community College going for a degree in automotive engineering technology. I was also working part time time for a food distributor called KEHE and I would umpire summer baseball/softball at Maybee Recreation.

When did you first start to think about the priesthood?

I am a cradle Catholic, and as a family we would go to Mass, pray before meals, and pray before going to bed, among other practices. These practices, instilled by my parents, laid the foundation. I never expressed or remember any interest in the priesthood until I was in the fourth grade or so. My two parish priests for most of my life were Fr. Richard Rackozy and Fr. Robert Bauer. I believe their good example played a role in my first thoughts of the priesthood. 

I started altar serving in the fourth or fifth grade all the way through high school. Altar serving kept the thought of the priesthood alive, and it was during altar serving that I had some of the most profound experiences of wanting to be a priest. The discernment process really increased during my two years of college. During this time I visited the seminary for the first time. We watched the video, Fishers of Men, and there was a line in the video that asked, “Who will bring the sacraments to the next generation?” I found myself asking myself if it was me. I soon after went on a discernment weekend and a seminarian gave me their contact information so I could ask questions after the weekend (I asked him many questions!). I finally told myself that if I don’t try going to the seminary now, I may never do it. 

What pastoral learning experiences made the greatest impact on you?

During my time in seminary, a group of us would go to downtown Detroit with lunches to distribute and to strike up conversation and hopefully prayer with those on the street. Also in seminary, I spent time doing street evangelization on the Wayne State University campus. Both of these pastoral experiences stretched me and showed me how much I need to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide me.

What excites you the most about becoming a priest? 

Celebrating the Mass, reconciling sinners with God through confession, giving spiritual advice, and teaching. I also look forward to finding a concrete way to minister to those who are anxious and/or depressed. I also look forward to fraternity with my brother priests as we strive to lead souls to Heaven.

What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the Church today? What do you see as the solution to that challenge?

A loss of what sin is. So many Catholics have made a Jesus that conforms to what they want to believe. So many Catholics struggle to call something a sin because calling something a sin means that love is not present. The solution to this is not easy, but will involve a slow journey with individuals to help them reflect that Jesus loves, but at the same time calls each of us to avoid sin and follow Him and his Church. 

What saint has been your greatest inspiration and why?

St. Alphonsus Ligouri is a saint that I look to as an inspiration. He struggled his whole life with anxiety/scruples, but was able to be a priest, be a bishop, and write so beautifully on Church teaching. I look forward to learning more about his life and spending time with his writings. 

How do you hope to answer the call of the New Evangelization in your priestly ministry? 

I hope to be able to present the teachings of the Church in an exciting way that helps someone to see Church teaching in a light that they have not before. By my homilies and by holding presentations/discussions I hope that the door to people's hearts will open just a little bit more to let Jesus in.

Deacon John Carlin

Age: 30
Parents: James and Mary Carlin
Education: Shrine Catholic High School (K-12), Oakland University (Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry), Sacred Heart Major Seminary (Bachelor of Philosophy, Theology, and Masters in Divinity)
Home parish: National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica, Royal Oak
Ordination date: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 4
First assignment: St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Lake Orion
Hobbies: Martial arts, music, film-making, running

What were you doing before you entered the seminary? 

After college, I worked in quality assurance for JHP Pharmaceuticals, taught karate at the South Oakland YMCA, was a grounds-man with Rainbow Tree Removal service, and was the night receptionist at Shrine.

When did you first start to think about the priesthood?

I first thought of becoming a priest when I was in eighth grade. Faith was always the most important thing in our family, and I always felt my relationship with God was an unwavering source of peace and the reason for my hope. I wanted to share this with those who did not know God and with my friends who had begun to drift away from the faith and to lose their peace. I also got very involved in pro-life ministry: organizing conferences, sidewalk counseling, walks, marches, fundraisers, etc., and it continues to be a big part of my ministry today. 

After college, I wondered if I should still be a priest or if I could do more good in full-time pro-life ministry. It wasn’t until Christmas 2012, while listening to the carol “I Wonder as I Wander,” that God touched my heart again. He said that full-time pro-life work would be great, but He asked me to be a priest. I didn’t have to. But He wanted me to. And I wanted what He wanted. So I said yes.

What pastoral learning experiences made the greatest impact on you? 

Of course my time at my internship parish, St. Thecla, was very important and helped me to fall in love with parish ministry. Also teaching karate at the YMCA and doing pro-life work greatly helped to form my pastoral ministry.

What excites you the most about becoming a priest? 

Confession, offering Mass, and helping everyone come to love the One I love.

What saint has been your greatest inspiration and why? 

St. Therese of the Little Flower and St. Francis of Assisi. Also Ven. Fulton Sheen (who will hopefully be beatified and canonized soon).

How do you hope to answer the call of the New Evangelization in your priestly ministry?

Go wherever the Lord leads me.

Deacon David A. Pellican

Age: 25
Parents: Stephen and Kelly Pellican
Education: Seton Home Study School; Sacred Heart Major Seminary (Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Masters in Divinity, Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology)
Home parish: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Grotto) Parish, Detroit
Ordination date: 10 a.m. Saturday, June 6
First assignment: Divine Child Parish, Dearborn
Hobbies: Woodworking, camping/fishing/outdoor activities, mountain biking, reading

What were you doing before you entered the seminary?

I entered seminary after high school. Before that I worked in the summers on a hay farm and in residential construction. I also raised pigs on the side.

When did you first start to think about the priesthood?

The idea that I might be called to the priesthood first entered my head when I was 10 years old. I did not stop then to ask where that thought came from, but it certainly was not something I came up with. That thought, “be a priest,” has remained with me to this day. Throughout high school, I began to better understand the sacrifices a priest makes, giving up a family, a career in the world, etc. Though at times I was pretty sure I did not want to be a priest, the conviction that God was calling me to the priesthood remained, and kept growing despite my best efforts to ignore it.

In my senior year of high school, as I was looking to the future and applying to various colleges, that call became particularly difficult to ignore. It was at this time that my dad and I went on a three-day silent retreat. There, in the silence, I could no longer distract myself from God’s persistent voice calling me to the priesthood. One Holy Hour in particular, it seemed as if Jesus was offering me two options: a happily married life, and a life as a priest. He was asking me to choose the latter for him. It was at that moment that I finally accepted God’s call to the priesthood, and stopped trying to work around it.

My parents were a huge influence on my vocation. I was raised in a strong Catholic family where my parents home-schooled my seven sisters and I. They modeled for us the Christian life, and gave us a solid grounding in the faith. It was largely due to their example and encouragement that the priesthood was even something I considered as an option. They always stressed how important it was to discern what God was calling me to, and pursue that. They never pressured me toward or away from the priesthood, but always made sure I had opportunities to know and serve for holy priests, as well as time to pray before Jesus in the Eucharist. Two priests in particular who modeled for me the joy and magnificence of the priesthood were Fr. Paul Oggioni, SdC, a Guanellan priest at a small chapel in Grass Lake, and my pastor, Fr. Eduard Perrone.

What pastoral learning experiences made the greatest impact on you?

Hospital ministry had a big impact on me. Being with the people there gave me a glimpse of why those who are suffering and in need are so precious to God.

What excites you the most about becoming a priest?

Celebrating Mass and hearing confessions. The Eucharist is Jesus really, truly, and substantially present. That is the single most important thing ever, period. Confession gives people the mercy of God. Besides that, being a spiritual father in a world hungry for strong and loving fathers is both exciting and a bit terrifying.

What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the Church today? What do you see as the solution to that challenge? 

The greatest challenge: Apathy is a big one. “Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth” (Rev 3:15-16). The solution: Setting the world ablaze with the fire of love burning in Jesus’ heart.

What saint has been your greatest inspiration and why?

Our Blessed Mother. Through her fiat she brought Jesus into the world while remaining a virgin. In this she demonstrated of how a life of celibacy can bear incredible spiritual fruit. 

How do you hope to answer the call of the New Evangelization in your priestly ministry? 

First and foremost by fidelity to Christ crucified. This is the source and sustaining force of any authentic witness in the world.

Deacon Andrew Mabee

Age: 32
Parents: Bruce and Cheryl Mabee
Education: St. John’s Jesuit High School (9th grade) in Toledo, Ohio; Saline High School (Class of 2006) in Saline, Mich.; Eastern Michigan University (Bachelor of Business Administration, 2011); Sacred Heart Major Seminary (Bachelor of Philosophy, 2016; Masters in Divinity, 2020)
Home parish: Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Plymouth
Ordination date: 6:30 p.m. Monday, June 8
First assignment: St. John Fisher Chapel University Parish, Auburn Hills
Hobbies: Coffee, running, cycling, guitar, Cross-Fit, cooking, the outdoors, art, live music, spending time with friends, and more!

What were you doing before you entered the seminary?

After coming into full communion with the Church at Easter of 2012, I spent a year serving as a campus missionary for University Christian Outreach. Following that, I spent some months helping out at the parish. Prior to entering seminary, I was living with some buddies I had known from college ministry work in a men’s Christian household. We would seek the Lord together, pray together, barbecue and hang out! Even though we all had regular jobs at the time, the vision of the house was to be “on mission” and bring others into contact with Jesus.

When did you first start to think about the priesthood?

I did not grow up Catholic, nor did I ever have many early memories of the priesthood. Growing up, I was passionate about action sports, particularly motocross, and thought I wanted to pursue working in the motocross industry. Jesus broke into my life in college after sustaining a nasty injury on the motocross track. I began to taste of His mercy and experienced Him make me new in real and tangible ways, delivering me from sin and setting me free. I found myself wanting to give Him everything! I began to see that the whole point of life was to lose my life in surrender to Him, so that I might truly find life. Toward the end of college, I was moved by the example of the Servants of the Word (a missionary Christian brotherhood) to prayerfully consider if Jesus might be inviting me to set aside marriage and leave everything to follow Him, to belong completely to Him. As I came into communion with the Church, I came to know the Father’s love more deeply and in return wanted to give Him my whole life!

After encountering His love and mercy through the sacrament of reconciliation and spending more and more time in front of Jesus in Eucharistic adoration, I experienced a desire welling up in my heart to make known the Father as a priest. After some discernment, I eventually entered the seminary!

What pastoral learning experiences made the greatest impact on you?

Prior to being ordained a deacon, there had been many pivotal pastoral experiences, including campus ministry work, a mission trip to Mexico, and serving the poor in Detroit. After being ordained, I have simply loved the grace it has been to belong totally to Jesus! It is an honor to be available to Him entirely, to be about ministering His love to any person I cross paths with! As a deacon, it has been an amazing privilege to be able to baptize, preach, and get know the people at St. John Vianney in Shelby Township (my diaconate internship parish).

What excites you the most about becoming a priest?

I cannot wait to have the privilege to offer Mass and hear confessions! To be able to minister the deep love and mercy of God through the sacraments will be the greatest gift! 

What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the Church today? What do you see as the solution to that challenge? 

All I know is Jesus is Lord, He is the one I long for, He is the one we all long for, the way, the truth, and the life! He is glorious and mighty, He is beyond powerful, and at this time especially, the only way forward is to allow Him to really be Lord over our lives and over His Church.

What saint has been your greatest inspiration and why?

For a set of years, I have had a real devotion to St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Damien of Molokai. St. Maximilian, in the laying down of his life, has always inspired me to want to lay my life down in authentic love for the people Jesus entrusts to me. St. Damien, in his desire to go and serve the lepers, has moved me to always be especially mindful of the afflicted, the lowly, the forgotten, to not pass them by, but to try and bring them Jesus, for they are his treasure.

How do you hope to answer the call of the New Evangelization in your priestly ministry? 

I want to help build real bonds of Christian community wherever I am sent, so that Jesus can be more deeply encountered and authentic friendships in Him can come to life!

Deacon Colin Michael Fricke

Age: 33
Parents: Michael and Kathy Fricke
Education: Grosse Pointe North High School; Siena Heights University (Bachelor of Arts); Sacred Heart Major Seminary (Bachelor of Philosophy, Master of Divinity)
Home parish: It is all over the place ... but Assumption Grotto (in Detroit) was on the vocation poster
Ordination date: 10 a.m. Saturday, June 13
First assignment: St. Paul on the Lake Parish, Grosse Pointe Farms

What were you doing before you entered the seminary? 

After graduating from Siena Heights University in 2009, I was hired as a teacher at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Wyandotte. After two years, it merged with two other Catholic schools to form John Paul II Catholic School, where I taught for three years before entering seminary. 

When did you first start to think about the priesthood?

Looking back, I can see that God began a series of invitations to the priesthood when I was about 7 years old at Mass. I wanted the large host that I knew I would have to be a priest to have. Interestingly enough, this experience happened at St. Paul on the Lake (where I’ll be assigned after ordination). In college, some people said I should consider priesthood, though it seemed more like desperation than a calling, but I was reminded again. 

Through teaching, I began to see the value of each person more clearly. Each person is unrepeatable, chosen by God, has an inner life to discover, is worth giving to and receiving from. I saw this very clearly in certain students in particular. I felt a call from Jesus again, to lay down my life for the kids, for the Church. This is a great mystery as St. Paul speaks about in Ephesians 5:32, a mystery involving the New Adam and the New Eve, who bring restoration to the relationship between men and women again. Jesus, the New Adam, is willing to suffer for His Bride, and Mary, the New Eve, would rather listen to God than the serpent.

What pastoral learning experiences made the greatest impact on you?

The Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, Neb., helped to discern what kinds of wounds/lies we were still holding onto. All of us have had experiences that hurt us in one way or another. Lies can sneak into these places, and if we do not take time to sort through them with Jesus, we can be confused about our own action. The trip to the Holy Land and the 30-day silent retreat had similar effects.

What excites you the most about becoming a priest? 

Spiritual fatherhood. I believe the fulfillment of masculinity is fatherhood, and the fulfillment of femininity is motherhood. Fatherhood can be lived in different ways, but it is a call to mature manhood in Christ (Eph 4:13). The priesthood is how I will be a father.

What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the Church today? What do you see as the solution to that challenge? 

We have many challenges, but God is victorious, and if we persevere with Him, we will be victorious, too. One way to group some of the challenges is to say that we are not good at discerning the difference between good and evil. Evil tends to hide itself in fear, lies, discouragement and anxiety until it is in control, and then uses force and intimidation to manipulate. We are currently not good at discerning evil, especially when it is trying to hide, but I think this is changing.

What saint has been your greatest inspiration and why?

Tough. I would say St. John Paul II because through Theology of the Body, he has given us a vocabulary for and a deep personal understanding of masculinity and femininity. Living God’s will here opens us up to acting freely in our person, living the spousal meaning of the body in the freedom of the gift and life in the Spirit. St. Patrick is pretty good, too. God just converted a country through him ...

How do you hope to answer the call of the New Evangelization in your priestly ministry?

Well, I hope that when speaking about God at funerals, baptisms, weddings, etc., there is an apologetic sense (defending why what we do is good and true) and an evangelical sense, a calling to a deeper relation with God, in what I say. I believe families are an important guidepost in Unleash the Gospel and hope to contribute there.