By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
Deacon Dennis Nash said serving as director of the Diaconate Office for the Archdiocese of Louisville is like carrying on an old family tradition.
He’s the eighth director of the office since it was founded in 1974 and feels as though he’s standing on the shoulders of the men and women who came before him, he said in an interview last week. He succeeds Deacon Patrick Wright, who is now the full-time pastoral administrator of Holy Family Church
The Archdiocese of Louisville currently has 125 ordained deacons, including 26 who are retired. Ninety-seven are assigned to parishes and two are currently not assigned to a parish.
In addition to their parish ministry, deacons also are involved in other ministries, such as prison and jail ministry, visiting hospitals and nursing homes and serving as chaplains for Catholic Cemeteries. All of this service is freely given in charity.
“We’re ordained in the person of Christ the Servant,” said Deacon Nash. “We’re men who are called to deepen our relationship with Christ through prayer and Scripture. The response to that call is service to the church.”
Deacon Nash started working part time in the diaconate office about a year ago, while wrapping up a 39-year career in the rental industry.
He retired in April from his corporate position and started serving as full-time director of the diaconate office in May.
Joking that his retirement didn’t last long, he said that his wife of 40 years, Teresa, and their two children are supportive of his second career.
He noted that some of the skills he acquired in the business world have come in handy in the transition. But it’s quite different working in the church, he said.
“There’s a charism that comes with working in the church that’s not present in the corporate world,” he said.
Deacon Nash was ordained in 2012 and is assigned to Good Shepherd Church in the West End, where he also served as music
His calling to the diaconate came much earlier, though, when he was in his early 30s, but he wasn’t sure what it meant.
“I was reluctant to acknowledge and answer that call,” he said. “Even while in formation I wasn’t sure it’s what God was calling me to.” Later, he said, he understood that “God called me to be a deacon to save me and to come into a deeper relationship with him.”
A deacon’s work is “a natural outpouring that comes from that relationship with Christ,” he said.
Deacon Nash, who also serves in prison ministry at the Kentucky State Reformatory, said he’s looking at ways to expand the services provided by the diaconate office, based on the needs of the local church.
The office is working too, he said, to find “ways to improve the way we form men for ordination” as well as ways to support them once they’ve been ordained. “We’ve ordained wonderful men throughout the years,” he noted.
The next diaconate ordination will take place on Aug. 20 at St. Patrick Church, 1000 N. Beckley Station Road, at 11 a.m. Eighteen men are in formation to be ordained then.
Also, 27 men are currently in formation to be ordained in 2020.
Those who may feel called to the diaconate or are interested in learning more, may attend a discernment session Aug. 18 at the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown, Ky., from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. or on Nov. 17 at St. Augustine Church, 1310 West Broadway, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Discernment sessions are prayerful gatherings intended to assist men who are considering a call to the diaconate to learn more about who a deacon is and to interact with others discerning a call. For more information, contact the Diaconate Office at 636-0296.