Father Dennis Saran, Saint Dominic Catholic Parish, Brookfield, WI
Submitted by: Mary Lestina
Father Dennis Saran was courageous in never shutting the parish down so that people could find refuge and strength. Our parish staff was in the office daily addressing the needs of our parish. We created a pool of compassionate volunteers to call all our parish members 65 and older and offer to pick up groceries or just pray with them. Father Dennis created a team to reflect daily on the Gospel which was available online. We had pictures of our parish members in the pews for the closed Masses, so he could pray for each one. The church was open daily until 7:00 p.m. We offered adoration for people to pray. We created prayer baskets at the entrances of the church for people to submit their prayer intentions to be prayed in the private daily mass of the priests. He wrote a weekly email to the parish family with spiritual reflections, showing his own vulnerability and connected to people (Connected in Christ) and he also had a live Facebook encounter. We created a parish sign that states on one side we miss you and on the other side, we love you. His example was powerful: "people can get COVID but they need access to the church to stay mentally and spiritually healthy." He held Reconciliation and adapted to space and change, allowing our parish members to feel safe and secure. He did not forget those who were in need. We held three drive-thru food drives for the local food pantries so we were aware of the poor in the midst of COVID.
His faith and courage gave me momentum to reach out to our home bound and to find strength in giving to those who were suffering with anxiety and alienation. He challenged me to find ways to join in reaching out to others. At our weekly staff meeting, his courage and creativity gave a new purpose to our pastoral team. His love for the parish is genuine and his number one goal was to help others, not serve ourselves. Heroism at its core. He was open to every possible idea to reach out and connect our family together. There was a spiritual "war" out there and he wanted us to combat it with hearts of genuine care and love.
Because of his great love for the parish, his compassionate heart and his courage to meet the needs of our large parish family. He has been a priest for only five years. He is very selfless and sacrificial.