Returning to his Iowa roots

Dan Rupp was one of thousands of graduates of Iowa State University’s engineering program.

Degree in hand, the Cherokee native made his way to the East Coast to pursue a career.

“I enjoyed my work as an engineer and made good money,” said Rupp.

However, a particular calling – much less strong than when he was a child, but present nonetheless – prompted Rupp to consider his life’s path.

“When I was a little boy I wanted to be a priest,” Rupp said.

Although Rupp had largely dismissed the notion, he could never let it go entirely.

And so, after 2 1/2 years as an engineer, Rupp decided to enter the seminary.

“I decided I either needed to do it or get it our of my system completely,” said Rupp, who entered Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md.

Five years later, Rupp became Father Dan.

For the next decade and a half, Rupp served in the Catholic Diocese of Burlington, Vt., which includes the entire state of Vermont.

Though Rupp enjoyed life in New England, he began to long to be nearer to his home town and the numerous family members who still lived there.

“The Holy Spirit said ‘Go West, middle-aged man, go West …’,” Rupp said, chuckling.

But for a priest – unlike for an engineer – relocating is not as simple a process as packing a few boxes and hitting the road.

Following his ordination into the priesthood, Rupp was incardinated within the Burlington diocese. Incardination is the process by which a priest is placed under the jurisdiction of a particular bishop. Priests can be excardinated and transfer to another diocese, but the process takes years, according to Catholic canon law.

“I talked to the bishop, there and here,” said Rupp. The process took nearly two years, he said.

Meanwhile, in July, the Rev. Shane Deman, who served as a priest in Holy Trinity Parish in Webster County since 2009, began doctoral studies in Rome.

Thus the need arose for a priest in north central Iowa.

And thus, Rupp was cleared to return to Iowa. Though he remains formally incardinated in the Burlington diocese, Rupp began an assignment as one of three priests for Holy Trinity Parish in Webster County on July 16.

In addition to being nearer his family, Rupp’s placement at Holy Trinity is a link of sorts to his youthful ideas.

Monsignor Kevin McCoy, pastor of Holy Trinity, is the nephew of the Rev. Al McCoy, who was a priest well-known to Rupp in his younger days.

“Knowing him had a profound effect on me,” Rupp said.

In the course of his work, Rupp hopes to be similarly inspiring.

Holy Trinity Parish is associated with St. Edmond Catholic Schools; the priests’ office space is under the same roof as the school business offices.

This affords Rupp ample opportunity to spend time in the classroom.

“I’ve always worked in a parish with a school, visiting classrooms and teaching a class here and there,” Rupp said.

To youths who, like Rupp, may feel the call to the priesthood, his advice is direct.

“Follow your calling,” he said. “Being a priest is a great life … I’ve never regretted it.”