By Gordon Nary
Gordon: As one of Chicago's leading attorneys, could you comment on your practice and specialties?
Dennis: My practice and that of my firm focus on civil litigation representing clients in federal and state courts and before administrative agencies. A significant percentage of our work involves serious, catastrophic accidents and personal injury cases involving ocean, lake and recreational vessels and motor carriers. We also represent numerous transportation entities and their insurers in a variety of contractual and insurance-related matters. My firm also handles other general commercial litigation. For a number of years, I also was counsel to an insurance company that insured numerous churches and charitable organizations and represented their insurers in civil cases.
Gordon: What motivated you to study law?
Dennis: Good question. I can't really say except that I knew in high school that is what I wanted to do. I guess you could say it was a "calling." It has been an interesting and challenging journey.
Gordon: Were your parents supportive when you made this career choice?
Dennis: Yes-and very proud I might add.
Gordon: I understand that you also practice maritime law. Could you give us an overview of the type of maritime cases that you have addressed in your practice?
Dennis: That would take a few pages to be complete! In short, I have handled cases involving seamen injured on vessels, accidents involving recreational craft and commercial vessels on the Great Lakes and the Western Rivers, environmental spills in the waterways, personal injuries involving various kinds of watercraft, the list can go on. Perhaps the most notable is a case involving maritime jurisdiction which went to the U. S. Supreme Court in 1990 (we won).
Gordon: When and why did you join Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish?
Dennis: 1987 after Janine and I were married. At the time, we lived at Diversey and Sheridan but stayed on as parishioners after we moved to where we now live.
Gordon: If you were suggesting to friends that they consider joining Our Lady of Mount Carmel, what would be your three top reasons?
Dennis: The vitality of the parish in its diversity; the music program; the many opportunities available for enhancing one's Catholic religious identity.
Gordon: You were appointed to the OLMC Parish Transformation Steering Committee. What were your reasons for participating in the OLMC Parish Transformation Plan?
Dennis: Fr. Pat asked both Janine and I to participate and we could not refuse his trust in us. We are glad we did and feel humbled and enriched by the experience.
Gordon: You are also on the OLMC Parish Transformation Finance Committee. What are some of your suggestions for increasing parish financial support?
Dennis: Engagement is the overarching motivator. Donations will develop when parishioners feel a real connection to the parish. We don't yet have a firm plan in place. However, a small weekly increase of $5-10 by all registered parishioners would really make a difference.
Gordon: In your opinion, what are some of the more important initiatives in the OLMC Parish Transformation Plan?
Dennis: The welcoming effort we saw on Easter Sunday. The formation of various new groups like the Men's Club are just a few. There is a lot in that plan!
Gordon: Are there other parish activities in which you participate?
Dennis: Currently involved in the To Teach Who Christ Is Campaign and I assist Deacon Johnson from time to time in his social outreach program.
Gordon: Do you have a favorite restaurant in the Lakeview area? If so, what are some of their specialties that you enjoy most?
Gordon: Are you a native Chicagoan or transplant?
Dennis: Born in Cleveland, Ohio, and lived there until I went off to college. Came to Chicago for law school, fell in love with the city and stayed. One of my better decisions (in spite of the weather). I don't think many people who were born here or those who have visited fully realize what a great city this is.
Gordon: What would you say to parishioners who aren't very active?
Dennis: Pick something and join. You will be presently surprised.
Gordon: I know you have been very busy and traveling almost every week, so I want to thank you for your time. I anticipate that many of our readers will enjoy this interview.