Msgr. Don Dunn was a true shepherd who sought to draw flock closer to the love of Christ
Letter to the Editor
In chapter 18 of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is questioned by his disciples about who will “be greater in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus, “calling to himself a little child” went on to declare “unless you change and become like little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” He spoke of humbling ourselves as little children and then said, “whoever shall accept one such little child in my name, accepts me.” (Matthew 18:1-5)
These verses came to mind when word spread that Monsignor Don Dunn passed away. I immediately reflected back some thirty plus years ago to an incident at St. Patrick’s parish where “Father Don” served as pastor. My young family was attending St. Pat’s when it was known as “St. Yakitori’s” and continued to do so when the church was eventually established on Brook Park Drive.
During Lent we always enjoyed attending Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings. One year, when our son was 5 or 6 years old, we were attending Stations when he decided he would “slow trail” Father Don as he stopped and read the gospel account at each station. (Being the son of a former police officer, he likely heard me relate how I, and my faithful police K9, would track a suspect who had been involved in any unlawful behavior.) Father Don soon recognized the not so nonchalant “trailing” that was going on a few feet behind him as he moved between the first few stations. Not quite aware of what my son was doing, but inspired by a gentle prompting from my wife’s elbow, I saw him moving stealthily behind Father Don. Not wanting Father Don distracted by my son’s detective work, I moved into position to subdue my son and bring him in custody back to our pew. Father Don saw me moving into the center aisle while waiting for him to pass to the next station, waved me away and quietly said to me, “It’s okay, let him follow.”
Father Don accepted our son’s behavior by recognizing his childlike humility in wanting to watch, mimic and, in his own young way, learn about the Stations of the Cross. Other examples of Father Don’s pastoral abilities come readily to mind. He was truly a caring, concerned pastor who loved his people and patiently sought to draw all of us closer to the love of Christ that he so effectively lived. Isn’t this the role every priest seeks to fulfill in his parish? And in every parish where the pastor seeks to guide his “flock” by God’s word and the Church’s ever-present care, shouldn’t it be the parishioner’s heartfelt desire to earnestly pray for their priest? We are bombarded seemingly every day by accounts of clerical abuse. Rarely do we ever see accounts of true pastoral care like that of Monsignor Don Dunn. We are encouraged to bear one another’s burdens and our Church today is heavily burdened by numerous problems, but by praying for our Holy Father, our bishops our priests, deacons and religious, we call upon the power of God to heal us, reclaim us and strengthen us for the daily battle against all evil.
Thank you Father Don for your service of love and guidance throughout your many years. You remain in our hearts and prayers!
J. Pat Kelly