Tell me about your family.
Ellen and I celebrated our 38th year of marriage on Sept 17 this year. We have one son, Benjamin 32. Ellen and I met when I was in the Air Force [served from 1976-1980] and went to a prayer group at the base and met her mother, Dianne. Dianne had me over at the house for a single airman’s dinner when I first met Ellen. We knew each other and participated in small faith-based groups but did not start dating until a few years later. We were married in 1983 at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Fort Worth, TX. Our son Benjamin is currently an engine mechanic at Standard Aero an aviation company in Maryville.
What brought you to east Tennessee?
I am from Nashville, born and raised. Ellen is from Boston, MA. We lived in Fort Worth, TX for many years and since I was in Aviation you “follow” the work, so initially I served in the Air Force. After that I went to work for Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth. Then we moved to Ohio to work for another aviation [Aeronca] company, then to an automotive company in Kentucky, and finally to Standard Aero in east Tennessee in 2001. We’ve been here ever since, over 20 years.
What work do you do?
I have been in aviation for 45 years and was at one time vice-president of quality for Standard Aero for many years. That required a lot of travel. Currently, I am director of quality at Standard Aero in Maryville.
What brought you to your parish?
Our Lady of Fatima was the closest parish when we moved to Tennessee. Also, Ellen and I have an affinity for Mary the Mother of Christ. At the end of each Mass, the parish asks for the prayers and intercession of Our Lady of Fatima which is dear to us both.
What service have you done for your parish?
Ellen and I have facilitated small faith-based groups, such as Renew, at parishioner’s homes. Ellen does women’s prison ministry. I am a Eucharistic Minister and Lector and I train the altar servers.
What drew you to the diaconate program?
When I was a young man in the Air Force, my pastor was the chaplain for the Catholic charismatic community. He gave me a book, “The Cross and the Switchblade” which challenged readers to make a personal commitment to Christ. I joined a charismatic prayer community, which is where I met Ellen and her mother. I was involved for twenty years and assumed a leadership position in the community where I helped to organize conferences, prayer group speakers, conducted Life in the Spirit Seminars etc. I was even the photographer for an album the community recorded. Ellen and I still keep in touch with friends from those years. Seven years ago, I stumbled across information on deacon formation and contacted Deacon Tim Elliott. I had just missed the deadline for the last deacon class, but Tim put me on the list for the next class. In 2016, I received an email from Tim about the diaconate. So, I applied and here I am.
What has been most rewarding about the diaconate program?
The studies, the teachers, the enhanced, deep prayer life (Liturgy of the Hours), and the fellowship with the other deacon candidates and their wives. I have developed a deep fellowship with these other men who want to serve God. We are all different, but we support and love each other. Participating in Mass at OLF as an Altar Server has helped me appreciate better the flow of Mass in service to God.
Have there been any challenges for you during the diaconate program?
Re-developing the habit of “college-level” study and writing papers. Also, getting use to the public speaking, even though I have done it before.
What are your hopes as a deacon?
My hope as a deacon is to set people on fire with their Catholic faith and wake them up to their faith.
Please pray for deacon candidate Leon Dodd and his wife, Ellen.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.