Four men, ages 31 to 59, to be ordained transitional deacons for Archdiocese of Detroit
May 13, 2020
Separate ordination Masses will be held for seminarians at Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament; priesthood ordinations set for June
DETROIT — Four men will be ordained to the transitional diaconate — the last major step before their ordination as priests next year — for the Archdiocese of Detroit starting this week.
Unlike in prior years, when each of the transitional deacons would be ordained in a single ceremony at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, four separate ordination Masses will take place, each at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
The four men to be ordained include Robert Voiland, 59; John Dudek, 54; Zaid Chabaan, 31; and Ryan Eggenberger, 34. Two of the seminarians, Chabaan and Eggenberger, are studying at Sacred Heart, while Voiland and Dudek are studying at St. John XXIII Seminary in Boston. St. John XXIII Seminary typically forms men who are later-in-life vocations.
Each of the Archdiocese of Detroit’s four auxiliary bishops will ordain one of the men. Bishop Donald Hanchon will ordain Voiland at 10 a.m. Friday, May 15; Bishop Robert Fisher will ordain Dudek at 2 p.m. Friday, May 15; Bishop Arturo Cepeda will ordain Chabaan at 10 a.m. Friday, May 22; and Bishop Gerard Battersby will ordain Eggenberger at 2 p.m. Friday, May 22.
In order to observe social distancing guidelines, attendance will be limited at each of the private Masses. All of the Masses will be livestreamed on Sacred Heart Major Seminary’s Facebook page.
Five additional seminarians, who are already transitional deacons, will be ordained priests in June. A separate Detroit Catholic story on them will be coming next week.
After attending Catholic school growing up, Voiland said he considered priesthood, but “it didn’t really make a big dent” in his thinking.
After a long career as an electrician for General Motors, Voiland retired to care for his elderly parents. After they died, he thought he’d continue practicing as an independent electrician, but with the extra time on his hands, he found himself “falling more and more in love with Jesus” as he learned more about his Catholic faith.
“I thought, ‘I don’t get to retire from being a Christian,’” said Voiland, a member of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Sterling Heights. “And I didn’t want to.”
When a religious sister at St. Michael suggested he consider becoming a deacon, he originally brushed it off again, but the idea began to sink in. Later, a priest friend suggested taking it one step further.
“I’ve been single all my life, and he said, ‘There’s no reason not to (consider priesthood),’” Voiland said. “It wasn’t even on my radar.”
Voiland enrolled in philosophy courses at Sacred Heart, and eventually, the idea of priesthood became a possibility.
“What I’ve learned has helped me to grow, and what I’ve discovered is that I think I’ve been given gifts that can be used for God’s glory,” Voiland said. “However we’re supposed to glorify God, if we don’t do it, I think He’s going to be disappointed and kind of bummed out with us.”
Dudek, of Holy Name Parish in Birmingham, originally entered Sacred Heart Seminary after graduating from high school in 1984. He stayed for two and a half years before meeting his eventual wife, Patty, whom he later married.
The couple had two daughters together, but later divorced and received an annulment. Dudek said his daughters asked him about returning to seminary, an idea he originally dismissed because, “I’m too old, I’m divorced, and I had to relatively young kids,” Dudek said. “I thought, ‘They’ll never take me.’”
“When it comes to my vocation story, God writes beautiful stories with crooked lines,” Dudek said in a vocation video posted on DetroitPriest.com. “My daughters always knew of me being in the seminary, and would always ask me questions.”
A 26-year veteran teacher, Dudek said a series of signs nudged him to reconsider seminary, including his daughters’ support. At the urging of his pastor, Msgr. John Zenz, he decided to apply. “Always keep your heart and mind open to God,” Dudek said.
When Chabaan was 12, he became an altar boy and joined the youth group at his parish, where he began to learn more about his Catholic faith.
From then until high school, Chabaan said, “I really thought about priesthood very seriously.” After attending a discernment retreat at Sacred Heart and a pilgrimage to World Youth Day, he became more and more drawn to the universality of the Church.
“But I thought I was too young (at 16 years old) to handle becoming a priest,” said Chabaan, a parishioner at the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak.
After considering becoming “just about every single thing you could think of, from a doctor to a lawyer to a teacher,” Chabaan said, “amidst all of the professions, the priesthood still stuck out.”
Nevertheless, he pursued a history degree, graduating from Oakland University. After college, he still wasn’t satisfied, and attended a second discernment retreat at the seminary. “That weekend, I really felt the Lord telling me to respond to his invitation, and I did,” Chabaan said.
After working for eight years in customer service in three different jobs, Chabaan said he “got a sense of the real world,” but still felt an emptiness. “Being in seminary with other guys who also are considering giving their lives to Christ has been a great source of inspiration for me,” Chabaan said.
Eggenberger, of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth, grew up in a Lutheran home. Although his family attended church, it wasn’t until he was 16 years old and attending a friend’s funeral that “everything went from my head to my heart, and I sincerely became a Christian.”
As a teenager interested in his faith, Eggenberger discovered the EWTN program “The Journey Home,” which highlights stories of conversion to the Catholic faith.
“As Lutherans, we had the liturgy and history, but to make a long story short, by the time I was 19, I entered the Catholic Church,” Eggenberger said.
After college, in 2008, Eggenberger entered Sacred Heart for one year. Despite learning a lot, Eggenberger said, “I left with the premise that either I wasn’t called, or I simply wasn’t ready.”
After a three-year stint in politics, Eggenberger got a job at Our Lady of Good Counsel from 2012 to 2015. “It was during that time that some of my buddies from the first time (in seminary) were being ordained,” Eggenberger said. Despite seriously dating and considering marriage, Eggenberger said, “Every time I would pray, the Lord would say, ‘Give this another shot.’”
Eggenberger’s parents had become Catholic in 2010, and in 2015, he entered the seminary for a second time.
“To anyone who’s discerning, I would say, ‘Just give it a shot,’” Eggenberger said. “To receive the formation (at seminary), to live under the same roof as the Blessed Sacrament, it’s incomparable. When you come to the seminary, you don’t sign on the red line that you’re going to be a priest. But it’s an opportunity to come to the Church in a formal way outside the quiet of your prayer and to say, ‘I think God might be calling me to this, but I’m not sure. But I’m willing to give this a shot and to discern with the Church.’
“No matter the answer to that question, it’s a good thing. You cannot lose coming to the seminary,” he said.