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Throughout the Rev. Dennis Cousens’ outer office, photos and statues of Jesus, Mary and other important figures of the Catholic faith line the walls, with one exception.
A fan of both classical and country music, he has a personalized and autographed picture of country singer Garth Brooks. It was given to him by a friend who knows Brooks and it has become a conversation piece to those who visit his office.
Cousens, like his taste in music, is a blend of the classical and contemporary.
His current assignment at St. Christopher Catholic Church in Radcliff is an example of the interesting way God weaves a person’s life, he said.
Cousens’ father was drafted into the U.S. Army in World War II, moving him from his home in the state of Washington to Fort Knox. At that point, his father was not married and was not Catholic. His father met his mother when he went to Louisville one night on a date with a relative of Cousens’ mother.
After they married, his father became Catholic, his brother was born and his father went off to war. He was in the Battle of the Bulge and was involved in the liberation of concentration camps.
Cousens was born in the post-war baby boom in 1946.
He’s always found it interesting he was made pastor in the parish closest to Fort Knox, the place that brought his father to the area from the West Coast.
“It’s interesting to see the mysterious ways God works,” he said.
He’s had many similar experiences. Also hanging in his office is his baptismal robe, preserved in a frame. The robe was made by his great-grandmother in 1893 for his grandmother, who was baptized at St. Martin of Tours in Louisville, where he later served as pastor.
His service is with the Archdiocese of Louisville and he goes wherever it assigns him. In his 35 years in the priesthood, he has led a church in Marion County, been director of vocation for the archdiocese for 10 years, served for 12 years as pastor of St. Martin of Tours and has been at St. Christopher for eight years.
At 66, he has a few years before retirement. Though priests retire at 70, they never stop being a priest and many still work in service to the church. The difference is they are no longer assigned as pastor of a church, he said.
He’s not into gadgets, he said, as his smartphone continued to beep with messages. Many don’t typically think of priests using such devices. Cousens, who admits he needs help with technology, embraces it.
Technology, while it has its bad points, can be an effective tool in preaching the message of the church, he said.
When he has problems with technology, youth in the church often patiently say, “Here, Father, this is how you do it.”
Cousens also has become a world traveler, taking pilgrimages to the Holy Land and a return trip to Italy. On this trip, he visited many places associated with Catholic saints, traveled to Pompeii and went to the abbey where St. Benedict founded the Benedictine monks.
While in Italy, along with thousands of others, he had a meeting with the pope, he said.
At the end of the day, he loves being with his three dogs and two cats, all bearing names of saints.
“They allow me to stay in the house,” he said.
His love of animals sparks his participation in a blessing of pets each year.
When a pet wanders onto the church’s campus, they end up at his house until their owners are found.
“To me, they are a lot of company and they teach us about the goodness of God, especially your dog,” he said, adding dogs would make perfect counselors. He also sees dogs as symbols of loyalty and forgiveness.
Cousens likes his perish and said he hopes to stay until he retires.
St. Christopher is an international parish because of the military post nearby. During Christmas Eve Mass, the congregation sang “Silent Night” in six languages.
Residents in the area are used to moving around and know what it’s like to be new, so they are warm and welcoming, he said.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.