Pastor: Rev. Damien J. Cook
Having moved from Ohio to Omaha, NE, at the age of 6, Fr. Cook grew up in St. Robert Bellarmine Parish.
He graduated from Creighton University in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy, theology, and Latin and later obtained Master of Arts in Theology and Master of Divinity degrees from Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD.
Fr. Cook was ordained a priest in June of 1999 for the Archdiocese of Omaha. Fr. Cook served as a parochial vicar at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha from 1999 until 2002 and at St. Patrick Church in Fremont from 2002 until 2004.
Fr. Cook was installed as pastor of St. Peter Church on the Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul on June 29, 2004. Fr. Cook was also the director of the Respect Life Apostolate, the pro-life office of the Archdiocese of Omaha, from October of 2005 until July 1, 2012. To watch brief videos about Fr. Cook's vocational journey, please click here. To learn more about the Respect Life Apostolate, please visit its website here.
Parochial Vicar: Rev. Rheo Castillo Ofalsa
Fr. Ofalsa was born to his parents, Romulo and Melodia, in Honolulu, HI. After graduating from Mililani High School, Fr. Ofalsa attended the U.S. Air Force Academy, from which he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering, and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force in 1999. He served with the 55th Civil Engineer Squadron and the United States Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, NE, where he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant and Captain and where he also received a Masters of Business Administration Degree through Bellevue University. Afterwards he served with the 48th Civil Engineer Squadron at the Royal Air Force Base Lakenheath in the United Kingdom.
Following his service in the United States Air Force, Fr. Ofalsa began studies as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Omaha in 2005. He attended Mt. St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD, for philosophical studies and then studied theology in Rome, Italy, where he received a Pontifical Baccalaureate Degree in Sacred Theology through the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
He was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ for the Archdiocese of Omaha in June of 2011 and was briefly appointed parochial vicar to Divine Mercy Parish in Schuyler, NE, during the summer before returning to Rome for further studies. He finished his Pontifical Licentiate Degree in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute in Rome with a focus on Studies in Marriage and Family. Fr. Ofalsa currently serves at St. Peter Church where he has been a parochial vicar since July 2, 2012.
In Residence: Rev. Nguyen Loi
Fr. Loi serves as the pastor of Our Lady of Fatima, the Vietnamese parish in the Archdiocese of Omaha. Since 2004 he has lived in residence at the St. Peter rectory.
The members of Our Lady of Fatima parish make their home at St. Peter Church and use the church and parish facilities.
Fr. Loi was ordained a secular priest on May 14, 1968 for the Diocese of Long-Xuyen, Vietnam. During his time as a priest in Vietnam he was once incarcerated by the communist government for 4 months because he would not renounce his fidelity to the Roman Catholic Church. He escaped Vietnam by boat in 1980 and arrived in the United States in 1981. He was invited by friends to Omaha in 1981 and has ever since cared for the Vietnamese-speaking peoples of the Archdiocese of Omaha.
Deacon John J. Zak
Deacon John Zak and his lovely wife, Mary, are the parents to 13 children and became members of St. Peter Church in 1988. He was ordained a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Omaha on November 1, 1998.
In addition to liturgical service at St. Peter Church, Deacon Zak is the director of the parish youth group and a catechist in the parish catechism program. He and his family are active in the parish.
Deacon Zak also works at Alegent Health Mercy Hospital in Council Bluffs, IA, as the team lead in respiratory therapy. He obtained a degree in respiratory therapy from the College of St. Mary in Omaha, NE, in 1978. He and his wife are also third order members of the Christ the King Lay Carmelites.
St. Peter Candidates for the Diaconate in the Archdiocese of Omaha
Mr. Kevin Engelkamp
Kevin Engelkamp has been married to his wife Cindy for many decades. They have 7 children, spanning childhood to adulthood. Both Cindy and Kevin come from Air Force families which brought them to Bellevue, NE. There they met and fell in love. When John Paul II came to World Youth Day in Denver of 1993, it began an intense search for Kevin to better know his Catholic Faith. During that time, Cindy was baptized and welcomed into the faith as an adult. Kevin says: "There have been many influences on my Catholic life, primarily through reading: Scott Hahn, John Paul II, Christopher West, and Peter Kreeft. Another major influence on my life has been Father Damien Cook. When we joined St. Peter parish 8 years ago, I thought I was a pretty good Catholic. He challenged us to live out Catholic lives, which St. Peters offers to the max." Kevin and Cindy resurrected and are currently leaders to our parish St. Vincent de Paul Society. In addition, Kevin has generously dedicated his time and partiicpated in the March for Life, RCIA and the parish catechism program as a Confirmation teacher. Kevin says: "We love the Catholic Church and want to be evangelists for her in the streets of Omaha. We would love to start a 'Holiness Revolution' at St. Peters and would like each of you to join us." Kevin was accepted as a candidate for the Deacon Formation Program in the Archdiocese of Omaha in the fall of 2013.
Mr. Omar Gutierrez
Omar Gutierrez was born in Michigan, but he grew up mostly in Cleveland, Ohio. He has been wonderfully married to Miriam: their anniversary is August 28th, 2004. They have three children; the fourth is on the way. Omar's educational background is in theology with a BA from Franciscan University of Steubenville, the Angelicum in Rome and an MA from the University of Dallas. He currently works for the Archdiocese of Omaha. Because Omar works in the Chancery, Omar remarks that, "in that vein, I suppose, many have asked me whether I considered the Diaconate. After a specific prayer experience, I spoke to Miriam about it, and she has been very trusting... I’m looking forward to having a reason to study the faith again and to discuss it with Miriam. Though difficult, we have the support of many great families here at St. Peter’s and the example of the Engelkamps to keep us focused." Omar was accepted as a candidate for the Deacon Formation Program in the Archdiocese of Omaha in the fall of 2013. He is also the author of the very fine book: The Urging of Christ's Love: The Saints and the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church. Follow Omar's thought-provoking articles on his website: Omar F. A. Gutierrez - Culture, Life & Spirituality.