'On fire for the faith': Trinity welcomes Father Grant Dvorak
Recently ordained priest Fr. Grant Dvorak of Bismarck will serve Trinity Catholic Schools as a high school teacher and chaplain. We spoke with Dvorak to learn more about what drew him to a life dedicated to serving God.
DICKINSON — Changes have come to Trinity Catholic High School as Father Grant Dvorak was announced as the new chaplain and religion teacher at Trinity Catholic High School.
Dvorak will replace Fr. Christian Smith, who was promoted to principal following the departure of Fr. Kregg Hochhalter — who’s been transferred to a Bismarck parish after more than a decade of serving Trinity.
For 15 years Bismarck Diocesan leaders have made a point of placing newly ordained priests in active roles throughout their Catholic school system. Dvorak attended St. Mary’s Central High School where he found inspiration from men like Msgr. Thomas Richter, who is now his parish priest just across the parking lot at Queen of Peace.
“Also at the high school, I just had chaplains that were on fire for the faith who would share that. And it was just an inspiring example to see priests with joy living out their vocation, kind of all around me,” Dvorak said.
Dedicating his life to God
It wasn’t until his first year of studying finance and accounting at the University of Mary in Bismarck that he began to more seriously consider the priesthood with encouragement from Fr. Jared Johnson, another one of his high school mentors. Dvorak said he dated at that time and had a great relationship with his girlfriend, but ultimately felt that God was calling him to something else.
“It is a sacrifice for sure, and sacrificing the good which is marriage. It's one of the greatest goods we can have here on Earth — children and family, all these different things. But it's ultimately for the sake of being of singular mind, purpose and heart for the salvation of souls,” he said.
The commitment had initial difficulties. Dvorak, now 27, said he still grapples with occasional feelings of loneliness and self-doubt, but that his experiences over the past seven years have produced a strong conviction and special conformity to Jesus that enables him to overcome such obstacles.
Priests must commit to celibacy, which he described as a gift from God, because theirs is a vocation that demands total fraternity and ceaseless daily prayer.
“The daily holy hour has been huge for me, just going to the chapel for an hour a day, praying and being in communion with Jesus Christ who is ultimately our fulfillment in the end of our life,” Dvorak said.
He spent three years in Washington D.C. at St. John Paul II Seminary, then four years at Pontifical North American College in Rome and was ordained on June 13 of this year, having honed his expertise in philosophy and theology.
In his new role Dvorak will provide spiritual guidance as the school’s chaplain, perform daily mass and offer opportunities for confession. He will also teach a class on sacraments and morality to juniors, and a course called “Catholic Disciple” to seniors. The latter is a dual credit course through the University of Mary teaching students how they can live out God’s will as Catholics after graduation.
Drawing students closer to their faith
He said Bishop David Kagan has doubled down on his predecessor’s policy of having clergy involved in education, which Dvorak noted has also been successful in the Lincoln, Nebraska, Diocese. He pointed to the unusually high number of vocations in this region of the state, and more married Catholics having a deeper level of involvement in their faith as proof of its success.
“We've seen a lot of fruit in our diocese from what the bishop has done with our Catholic schools,” he said.
He emphasized that having a chaplain and priests as faculty imbues students with a stronger respect for and connection to the Church they can fall back on for the rest of their lives, even if they stray from Catholicism. Dvorak noted that he has a close friend from high school who is currently a seminarian in Louisiana, and another classmate who moved to the Netherlands and became a nun.
After serving as seminarian last summer at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, he said he was excited upon finding out that he would be returning to Dickinson.
“There's these rivalries in high school between Bismarck and Dickinson, but my heart was not in it for Dickinson,” he said with a chuckle. “But there was kind of a conversion for me last summer that I just love the city of Dickinson. The people here are so good. And there's so many faithful people that I became familiar with then. So when I received my assignment, I was actually super happy to just be here in Dickinson at Trinity.”
Dvorak said he’s struck by the beauty of the school’s chapel, particularly the paintings and statues. It was finished and dedicated in 2017 after a fire destroyed much of the building nearly three years prior.
“At the very front, kind of a contrast between that statue, which is Adam and Eve, kind of a shame that you see there. And then over here, the Holy Family with a new Adam, Jesus and the new Eve, Mary. And you can see the peace and serenity of them,” he said. “The painting (shown above) is of the Trinity with the Holy Spirit with the dove. God the Father, holding up his Son, Jesus Christ on the cross, his offering to us and Jesus offering himself up to us to the Father, through the Holy Spirit.”