Province of St. Albert the Great, USA

Another Iteration of Friars in Grand Rapids, and a formal House

Within less than a year of the establishment of St. Martin de Porres Province (late 1979) and the realignment of States with St. Joseph Province, giving us Michigan and Indiana, Cletus Wessels joined the theology faculty of Aquinas College where he served for seven years. In 1982, Michael Demkovich joined him at AQ for teaching and campus ministry. The first domicile was 309 Hampton Ave SE, fairly close to the campus. Shortly afterwards, Greg Heille arrived in 1985 and the Friars relocated to 147 Benjamin Ave, SE and a formal house was established: St. Dominic House. 

Our Dominican house in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
This is our new house in Grand Rapids: St. Catherine of Siena House.

Friars also served the Sisters at Marywood and Aquinata Hall and in the chancery. Friars in Grand Rapids from 1980 to 1994 included Cletus Wessels (1980-87), Mike Demkovich (1982-86), Greg Heille (1985-94), Benedict Baer, Joachim Thiel, Joe Fogarty (1983-85), Greg Moore, Tom Johnston, and Tony Kilbridge; Rick Peddicord did a pastoral year and John Meany was a deacon here. Greg was sent to Aquinas Institute to replace Ed Ruane in the preaching curriculum; Ed was elected provincial in 1994. The religious House was suppressed and the Benjamin house was sold.

There were no friars from 1994 to 1998. Then Dan Davis came to the campus and Paul Colloton was at Marywood. In 2000, Dan went to Purdue, a new university parish for us, and Ron Kreul replaced him. Bob Kelly replaced Paul in 2001, and in 2002 Chuck Santoro came to the AQ campus ministry in place of Ron Kreul. Chuck’s sudden death in 2004 left us bereft of anyone to come to the campus ministry. And in 2005 Bob Kelly went to Albuquerque. So, again the friars were gone.

There were no friars in Grand Rapids from 2005 to 2013 when Kevin Niehoff and Stan Drongowski came, Kevin to the diocesan Tribunal and Stan to the AQ campus ministry. They still minister in Grand Rapids. Joining them in 2017 were Nick Monco (Hope College in Holland, MI) and Doug Greer to teach at Catholic Central High School. They too continue these ministries.

Bob Keller just joined the friars to make it a community of five; Bob joins Stan in campus ministry and teaching at AQ. The Province has identified Grand Rapids as an apostolic center to build. A formal house has been established as of June 1, 2020 under the patronage of St. Catherine of Siena.