Your initial career plan was to be an accountant.
What diverted your path and led you to the priesthood?
I was always good at numbers; math was a favorite subject
at St. Ignatius High School. I went to Marquette University
in Milwaukee to study accounting and then transferred to
JCU. When I graduated, I went to work at Kaiser Foundation
Hospitals in their accounting department. I knew pretty
early on I could not do that the rest of my life. As I looked
out from my office at the Bond Court Building downtown,
I knew I could not stay in that building. I just wanted
something more than that.
How would you characterize the parishioners of
St. Dominic? The St. Dominic community is like the United
Nations; we have people from all over the world. We have
people from every background you can imagine, every walk
of life. Many couples are of mixed marriages where the
spouse often comes to worship with us even though she or
he is not Catholic. It is a very welcoming place, for straight
and gay couples, divorced, single and married people, older
adults to young families.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen
over the years at St. Dominic? When I first came here,
we had 900 households and it has now grown to more
than 1,700 households. I’ve seen the average age of
parishioners plummet as more young families move into the
neighborhood looking for a sense of community.
People come to St. Dominic looking for more than Mass
– they want to do service and be involved in the community.
That’s why I created the Project Serve Coordinator position
held by Jodie Bowers for all of our outreach efforts. A shift
has occurred in what it means to be a Catholic. It’s not just
about going to church, it’s about how you live your faith
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Musically, we’ve made a shift from traditional western
church music to more global music to reflect the growing
diversity of our parish. I hired Jim Carr, our music director,
in 2002, and because of him a lot of very musically talented
people have flocked here to worship with us.
Interestingly, throughout the pandemic, our collections
have gone up. As churches closed throughout the country,
we’ve had parishioners say to their family members and
friends, “You should try watching our Mass.” We have more
than 4,000 devices streaming our Mass each week.
You are now coming up on 20 years as Pastor at
St. Dominic. What are some of the programs and
initiatives you are most proud of developing and
leading? I think I’m most proud of our Project Serve
initiatives. The community of St. Dominic truly has a
servant’s heart. I am continually amazed at how every age
group consistently steps forward to share their time, talent,
and treasure. If I put a need in the bulletin for a car for a
family, I get four. On almost a daily basis, parishioners step
out of their homes and neighborhoods to serve the less
fortunate, both here in our community and with our sister
parish of Santo Domingo in Chultiupan, El Salvador.
We have parishioners who volunteer to prepare and
serve meals at the Thea Bowman Center in the Mt. Pleasant
neighborhood, at the West Side Catholic Center, at the
Ronald McDonald House, at St. Herman’s shelter. They
attend Mass and do crafts with developmentally disabled
adults at the Warrensville Development Center. We have
several immigration attorneys in the parish who volunteer
their services through Hola. We’ve provided bedding for
Edwins Leadership & Restaurant’s residential dorms. The list
goes on and on.