May 13, 2018

So, what do you know about the new guy?

That’s a question I’ve gotten asked almost daily since it was announced we’ll be getting a new rector this summer.

Over the last decade, I’ve met   Fr. Bill Dewan at many Diocesan events.  I’ve always found him to be   affable, relatable and wicked smart.

In the last month or so, I’ve gotten to know him better.  Turns out, my early impressions are spot on, and I’ll add empathetic and    decisive to the list.

I asked him to tell me a bit of his story so I could share it here.  Fr. Bill describes himself as a Southside Irish boy with two brothers and a  sister.  In his office at the Blanchette Catholic Center, family photos abound, including an 8x10 of his mom keeping an eye over his   shoulder.

Fr. Bill spent 13 years in formation with the Augustinians—including earning an undergraduate degree from Villanova University and a graduate degree from Catholic Theological   Union--before coming to the Diocese of Joliet.

In the summer of 1985, he was assigned to a parish—ours.  For a year, he worked at the   Cathedral as the final phase of his formation, being ordained to the diaconate in November, 1985 and to the priesthood in June, 1986. During his first time on staff, he worked closely with Deacon Ed Petak.  In fact, they shared an office and continue to be close friends more than 30 years later.

After ordination, Fr. Bill spent 13 years at various parishes as parochial vicar before being assigned his first pastorate at St. Joseph in Bradley.  That assignment was followed by six years as pastor at Holy Family in Shorewood until he was named Vicar for Priests in 2007.

As Vicar for Priests, Fr. Bill serves as the personnel director for the priests in the Diocese. He’s done this demanding job for 11 years.  For the last 18 months he has also served as pastor for Sacred Heart Parish in Joliet.  He’ll continue as Sacred Heart pastor along with being the  Cathedral rector.

When Fr. Bill’s appointment was announced, it also said we’ll be getting a parochial vicar to serve both parishes.   Those assignments were announced on the same day of the Chrism Mass, and I got to see the excitement when Fr. Bill told Deacon Ryan Adorjan he’d be coming to the Cathedral for his first assignment.

A native of Oswego, Deacon Ryan will be      ordained May 26 with six others—the biggest ordination class in years.  To get a sense of him, I suggest you check out his website at  He is an excellent writer and speaker, and I know we’ll enjoy having him as part of our   community.

Fr. Bill’s  empathy and decisiveness have been most visible in conversations about the arrival of Fr. Ryan.  A few weeks ago, Fr. Bill asked to meet with Pete Pluth and me to talk about the accommodations for our new parochial vicar.  He wanted to be sure everything was ready so Fr. Ryan will start off his priesthood on the right foot. Fr. Bill said he’d had a few rough           assignments where the welcome mat was just not out—it was nonexistent.  He doesn’t want that to happen to Fr. Ryan.

We’ve had lots of back and forth about what to do to freshen, rearrange and repurpose areas in the rectory and parish offices (and we    haven’t even started talking about paint colors) but I found one particular exchange telling.  Fr. Bill asked us to get a couple of narrow tables.  When I asked why, he said he wanted them in each of the long rectory hallways.  He wants a lamp on each with a timer, so no one comes home to a dark hall.

Both Fr. Bill and Fr. Ryan will move in on June 20.  Between now and then, we are working to get ready for the new arrivals.  That big blue dumpster behind the rectory is coming in handy!

• • •

Priests in the Diocese of Joliet are offered a   10-week sabbatical after 20 years in ministry and again every 10 years thereafter.  A  sabbatical is an official extended period away from current ministry and responsibility for the purpose of ministerial, personal, spiritual and theological development and enrichment. 

Fr. Bill has been a priest for 32 years.He took his first sabbatical after 20 years and now will take his second. It is not  unusual for this to happen at the beginning of an  assignment.  Most priests simply delay their arrival at the new parish by 10 weeks.

However, since Fr. Bill very much wants to be sure Fr. Ryan is acclimated,  he plans to be with us for about a month  before taking his sabbatical from  mid-July to mid-October.

While Fr. Bill is away, Fr. David Mowry has been assigned to   serve as our parish   administrator. Fr. David is just finishing his assignment as parochial vicar at St. Mary Immaculate in Plainfield.  In the fall, he’ll be a professor of homiletics and  preaching at Mundelein Seminary,  but he’ll summer with us.  Fr. David was ordained in 2013.  He’s a very talented musician, and one assumes if he’s teaching preaching, he’s pretty good at it.   I look forward to hearing his homilies.

So this is going to be one of those you-don’t-know-the-players-without-a-scorecard summers, but there will still be the familiar faces of  Fr. Burke Masters and Fr. Benedict Zele. Fr. Nepi Willemsen will be travelling for much of the summer, but he’ll be back with us in the fall.


Eileen Hooks Gutierrez
Director of Development and Project Liaison, 815-722-6653



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