By ERIKA ANDERSON, Staff Writer | Published December 8, 2005
Deacon Dennis Dorner, a permanent deacon who serves at St. Brigid Church in Alpharetta, has been selected by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory to succeed Deacon Alfred Mitchell as the director of deacon personnel.
Archbishop Gregory announced the appointment of the 53-year-old Deacon Dorner on Dec. 2. Deacon Mitchell, who has been serving in the archdiocesan Office for the Permanent Diaconate since 1990, will retire at the end of 2005.
Deacon Dorner, a native of Ohio, was ordained in January of 2004. He was notified of his new position after a lengthy interview process by a panel of priests and fellow deacons and a final selection by Archbishop Gregory.
In a statement, the archbishop welcomed Deacon Dorner and noted his high qualifications.
“He is a wonderful man of faith with a tremendous enthusiasm for the mission of the Church. He has a great heart for the Office of Deacon and I am certain that he will serve his brothers in the Diaconate and their families with true dedication,” Archbishop Gregory said. “He comes to this office following another great servant of the Church, Deacon Alfred Mitchell, who has left an enviable record of devotion to the Diaconate. May Dennis continue the legacy of care and zeal that is part of the heritage of the Diaconate here in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.”
Deacon Dorner said he was both “honored and humbled” by the appointment and that he hopes to work closely with the archbishop in further defining the role of the deacon in the church in Atlanta.
“My first priority is to understand Archbishop Gregory’s vision. The primary role of deacons is a mission of charity, and we need to be very clear about what that means, whether it’s serving those in prison, or the poor, working in marriage prep or with young people,” Deacon Dorner said.
Deacon Dorner and his wife, Susan, have been “very happily married” for 33 years. The couple has four children and a new grandchild. Deacon Dorner spent over 30 years in the industrial distribution business where, he said, he was able to fully appreciate the diversity of the world.
“I had the opportunity to do lots of traveling and meet many people from many different cultural backgrounds, and to find out that the world is really not that huge of a place,” he said.
For the past year, Deacon Dorner has been working full-time in the religious education office at St. Brigid’s as the director of project development.
Though he has been ordained only two years, Deacon Dorner said that he was blessed to have gotten “a lot of broad support” in applying for the archdiocesan position.
“Many of my classmates contacted me and told me to apply. Logic would not say that you would choose a person who has only been ordained two years, but I trust that the archbishop doesn’t see that as an impediment,” he said. “In fact I think it can be a good thing. I don’t know the history or about any issues that have been involved.”
Deacon Mitchell’s position as director of deacon personnel was a part-time one, but Archbishop Gregory has created a full-time position for Deacon Dorner.
“I think that’s the biggest vote of confidence for the deacons. Archbishop Gregory has been extremely supportive of the diaconate,” he said. “I hope to continue the good things that (Deacon Mitchell) has been doing. We have an extremely diverse community in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, and our diaconate is no different. We have lots of very talented men, and we need to make sure that we are using them and their skills and gifts in the best possible way.”