Ordinations move forward despite changes

The Diocese of Sioux Falls ordained two men to the priesthood and three to the transitional diaconate in May. These were Bishop Donald DeGrood’s first ordinations and looked a bit different than in past years.

The biggest differences were in the reduction in those who could attend and no receptions afterward due to social distancing requirements.

Photos from the ordinations will be in the July issue of The Bishop’s Bulletin.

The two men ordained to the priesthood, Tony Klein and Michael Kapperman, took a few minutes to tell us about themselves before ordination.

Father Tony Klein

Tony Klein grew up in Sioux Falls with two older sisters. He graduated from O’Gorman High School and entered the seminary at St. John Vianney College Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul right after graduation. For the last four years, he has been attending the seminary at North American College in Rome.

For Klein, the call to become a priest was more of a slow drip than a bursting dam. He had always liked serving at Mass and began to think about the priesthood more in high school. It was then that he realized he should at least give himself and God the time to discern a possible call. After about three years at seminary, he knew he actually wanted to be a priest.

“Prior to that, I said, ‘Lord, I will be a priest if you want me to be.’ Then my prayer started becoming, ‘Lord, I will be a priest if you want me to be, but I’m realizing that I actually want to be a priest, too!’ The more I learned about the priesthood, the more I learned about myself, and the more my relationship with God grew, I was able to see that I could see myself being a priest and that it would be so fulfilling,” Klein says.

He found plenty of support from his family and friends. Some were confused at first, but they got behind him quickly.

Klein has appreciated the fraternity with his brother seminarians and was blown away by the quality of men at both the seminary in St. Paul and the seminary in Rome.

“God has used those companions to teach me so much about who I am and how gracious He is,” says Klein. “I was able to meet Pope Francis with Bishop DeGrood. It was surreal to meet the Holy Father in the first place, so to meet him with the man who would ordain me four months later and with my classmate (Michael Kapperman) was a huge grace.”

Because the sacraments are such a great gift of the Church, Klein says he’s most excited to be able to celebrate them as a priest.

Father Michael Kapperman

Michael Kapperman grew up the third of four boys on a farm south of Hartford. He graduated from West Central High School in 2010 and then from Dakota State University in 2014 where he studied secondary math education.

It was during his junior year at Dakota State that he heard the call to become a priest. He had a conversion back to Christ that he didn’t expect.

“God gave me the grace to desire to give everything back to Him,” Kapperman says. “Praying one day at St. Thomas Aquinas in Madison, I asked God how he wanted me to give everything back to Him. He placed on my heart the idea of priesthood. This scared me at first because I had never even considered the priesthood to be an option. But, the more that I prayed about the priesthood, the more I realized that I had always been drawn to it in subtle ways.”

He entered Saint Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, after graduating from Dakota State. He says his family and friends, like him, hadn’t thought about the possibility of Kapperman going to seminary. They were as shocked as he was, but he says they were all supportive of his decision because they could see a change in him.

During the time he has been at Saint Paul Seminary, Kapperman has especially appreciated the fraternal life. He’s been surrounded by 80 other men all ready to give everything to Jesus.

“It is surreal to have so many brothers who are all captivated by the love of God and desiring to give everything back to Him,” he said.

Kapperman enjoyed his summer in 2019 serving the parishioners at Holy Spirit Parish in Sioux Falls through liturgy and parish life. He saw it as a gift to be able to give his life for the people of God.

“I hope that I will be an instrument of the Lord’s love. I desire that others come to know through me our God who loves us and cares for us,” Kapperman says.