Aside from serving as a founding member of “Caruso’s Crew” – the group of Saint John Vianney seminarians who don construction gear and get loud at University of St. Thomas football games – Fr. Dan Westermann’s most vivid memories of college seminary life include he and his classmates’ frequent rosary processions around campus.
“I think a lot of people thought we were crazy for doing that,” said Westermann, now the pastor at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
But Westermann has always been comfortable in the public eye. He decided to discern the priesthood early, joining SJV at the age of 18.He was born and raised Catholic in a town called Pinckney, about a half-hour’s drive northwest of Ann Arbor.
Westermann first thought about becoming a priest when he was in second grade. But it wasn’t until a “Kairos” retreat his senior year of school where he felt like the Lord was really speaking to him.
After graduating from SJV in 2010, he spent four years at the Pontifical North American College in Rome before his June 2014 ordination.
His current parish performs Catholic campus ministry for both Eastern Michigan University and nearby Washtenaw Community College. After his time at SJV, it’s a place in which Westermann is comfortable.
After all, he and fellow seminarian Zach Greenwell – now Fr. Zach Greenwell – are credited with helping create “Caruso’s Crew.”
“It was just a blessing to have a place where we exercised a lot of influence,” said Westermann, who added the Crew’s public presence at football games prepared him well for pastoral ministry. “We were just very visible … we could really steer the student section, and it was really cool because we focused on not being negative – no vulgarity or trash talk and stuff like that. It was a way to maintain a really positive fan experience there.”