Name: Fr. Dennis Martin
Years ordained: 43
Current assignment: Pastor, St. Bernadette Parish, West Branch, and St. Joseph Parish, West Liberty
How did you know you were being called to the priesthood?
A school-wide retreat was influential when I was a sophomore at Burlington Catholic High School. The priest giving the retreat impressed me. Also, several other priests contributed later at Notre Dame and in St. Patrick Parish. Father Tom Lew helped my father to expand his painting business by buying a scaffold. Later, he wouldn’t take the money back from my father. I found this out after I became a priest but, to say the least, priests were well spoken of in our home.
When I was in the seminary another pastor, Father James Quinlan, arranged for me and a fellow seminarian, Larry Brafman, to work on an African-American mission in Kingstree, S.C. That introduction to rural ministry and another culture was really helpful.
Aside from your ordination Mass, what was your most memorable Mass?
I remember well the Masses I celebrated in Durango State in Mexico when I was visiting families of my West Liberty parishioners. Also, when visiting families of Washington parishioners in Jojutla de Juarez, State of Morelos, Mexico. I carried the paschal candle of their neighborhood church through the streets and then joined four other processions with paschal candles and went up the steps to the main church for the Pentecost Mass.
What is most rewarding about being a priest?
I enjoy the weekend liturgies and I try never to miss a reception after a wedding, baptism or quince años (coming of age ceremony). I have fun, but use it as a time to meet people.
What is most challenging about being a priest?
It is always challenging to achieve unity in a parish whether you are dealing with school and religious education families, or newcomers and established families, or youth and the parish in general, or Hispanic and Anglo parishioners.
What is your favorite Scripture passage?
Luke 15:20 — “With that he set off for his father’s house. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was deeply moved. He ran out to meet him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.”
What is your hobby?
I like to bicycle and play golf. A great day is when I can beat Father John Hynes and Father Bob McAleer on the golf course. It’s easy to pedal up those hills then the next day.