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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

An Interview with Father David Jenuwine

Gordon: When did you attend Kettering University, what degree did you earn, and what is one of your favorite memories when you were there?

Father David: I attended Kettering right out of High School. Back then it was General Motors Institute. I was the last class to graduate (1985) with a diploma that still said “General Motors Institute” on it. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. My favorite memory is of helping classmates debug their software code in FORTRAN. I would visually scan the pages of code, and zero in on the buggy section (It just didn’t “look right.”) That, and watching M*A*S*H in a buddy’s room with other guys in the dorm.


Gordon: When did you attend Purdue University. what degree did you earn, and what did you enjoy most about the Taekwondo club?


Father David: At Purdue, I received a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering. There, mostly developing software to analyze complex circuits that couldn’t be analyzed using the software packages available at the time. My favorite things about Taekwondo club was getting pizza with the other members after evening class, and after I received my black belt, teaching classes at the studio in town.


Gordon: Why did you study Mandarin Chinese at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center?


Father David: In order to qualify for Mandarin, you had to get a high enough score on a test that measured your ability to learn a language quickly. Before the Navy, I had studied Chinese with a tutor, but it wasn’t moving fast enough. After a trip to China, I realized that I was still basically illiterate. The military language school provided me with the intensity that I could actually function moderately well in China. And a later immersion program in-country gave me that opportunity to see the results.


Gordon: Tell us something about being  Benedictine Oblate


Father David:  I began to consider this just before COVID hit. And found oblate life to be a beacon of spiritual stability in the midst of the secular chaos.


Gordon: When did you attend Sacred Heart Major Seminary, what degree did you earn, and what did you enjoy most about being in  the Choir?


Father David: At Sacred Heart, I obtained a Bachelor of Philosophy degree. What I enjoyed most in choir was the eccentric personality and the stories told by the choirmaster, Dr. Calvert Shenk. He was an endless supply of music information and a supremely talented composer. He would write motets that were tailored to the particular men in the choir, and do the same for solo pieces for cantors.


Gordon: When and where did you earn your certificate to be a priest?


Father David: I spent 2 years in a non-degree program at St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in Minnesota. Each semester I was with another year of seminarians. After those two years, I was recommended for Holy Orders by the faculty. I was ordained a transitional deacon August 15, 2008; and ordained a priest June 5, 2009. The ordaining prelate was the same man, in August he was Bishop, but by June was Archbishop (Robert J. Carlson)


Gordon: When did you study at the University of St. Thomas and what did you study?


Father David: I was at the University of St. Thomas (but in the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity.) I studied Divinity, which is how to be a priest.


Gordon: When did you attend Cooley Law School, what degree did you earn, what was your favorite class, and why was it you favorite?


Father David: I attended Cooley Law School from January 2014 until September 2021. My favorite class(es) were in Criminal Law and Constitutional Law. These were the classes that supported my internship(s) at the Washtenaw County Public Defender Office — where I actually was able to practice law under the supervision of a licensed attorney. 


Gordon: Tell us something about your work as a  Project Engineer , Software Engineer, and Design Engineer.


Father David: I started out in development, working on inventing things. I received a patent for a numerical process that reduced the audio from a welding session to a single number. The operators said they could “hear” a bad weld. And the numerical process using Fourier Transforms and some computer math magic was able to duplicate that under certain circumstances.


Gordon: What is your favorite memory when you served in the U.S. Navy?


Father David: Deployments and flights. These were pretty brutal, being on the road for 6 months at a time, and the flights could be a long as 18 hours (with pre- and post-flight times sometimes making for 24+ hour working days.) The friendships made during that time have lasted a lifetime. You get to know each-other and learn to support each other (or else get into scuffles that end with some kind of friendship.)


Gordon: What were your primary responsibilities as Residence Coordinator Franciscan University of Steubenville?

Father David: My primary responsibility was (in my eyes) making sure the students paid their bills. On top of that, Franciscan had strict policies on co-ed visiting. Floors or wings were assigned by gender, and visitation required keeping doors open and being visible from the hallways.


Gordon: When did you serve as Priest at the Catholic Diocese Of Saginaw?  Please share with our readers something about your responsibilities for as On-call hospital chaplain associate: St. Mary of Michigan (Ascension,) Veteran's Hospital, Mid-Michigan Hospital, area hospices


Father David: I’ve always been a priest for the Diocese of Saginaw. That is the diocese of my incardination. I was on loan to the Diocese of Santa Rosa for just under 4 years. At St. Mary’s Hospital, I would do daily rounds. Checking in on patients who were specifically Catholic, and providing their needs both Sacramentally and personal. Most often just chatting and keeping them company. At the VA, I would come when someone was dying. One time, I was called in (I think it was July 4) and a man was told he had three days to live. In one shot he was baptized and confirmed, and received Holy Communion and last rites. A few months later, he came looking for me. He had survived and wanted a certificate to show his local Catholic priest!


Gordon: What is one of your favorite memories when you were initially  a Priest at Catholic Diocese Of Santa Rosa?

Father David: Sitting outside the Napa County Fairgrounds on Memorial Day weekend handing out Rosaries and Holy Card at the Bottle Rock Festival. That resulted in one photo of me that ended up trending on Reddit as the #1 Catholic photo. (I didn’t even know what Reddit was at the time.) Bottle Rock pretty much doubled the population for one weekend. It was chaos, crowded, and I met a lot of people and gave away pretty much all of the Rosaries we had on hand.


Gordon: You are currently a member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. What interested you in joining this service?


Father David: I was at a youth conference and ran into a priest who recruited Chaplains. I complained to him that being over 60 and having a chronic illness (insulin dependent diabetes) blocked me from being able to serve as a chaplain. He suggested the USCG Auxiliary as a path to chaplaincy, and I’m exploring that option now.


Gordon: You also serve as Chaplain Michigan Defense Force. What is most rewarding about your service?


Father David: Most rewarding is being able to work with a diverse set of individuals. Recently we’ve been able to  integrate the mission of the MSDF by working with the USDA Eastern Michigan Food Bank, and our own parish food pantry, we’ve been able to do two large-scale food distributions this year. Moving 10 tons of food to hundreds of people in.a four hour window. It leverages the EMFB as a supplier, allows the MSDF to have a Point of Distribution (POD) exercise, and my parishioners can have a first-hand experience of feeding the hungry.


Gordon: You also serve as a Private Practice Attorney at Law. About how many cases have you had to date?

Father David: In my private practice, I spend most of my time giving advice. My primary purpose is keeping my clients out of court and helping them resolve their issues at the lowest level. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:25, "Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him.” It’s also about implementing what the Church calls subsidiarity. I also have assisted in investigations, which allows me to leverage my experience in US Navy cryptology. Mostly, I help other pastors in their decision-making regarding business decisions and help them navigate the legal aspects of running a parish or a church.


Gordon: You are currently a  Priest at the Catholic Diocese Of Saginaw .Tell us something about the parish.


Father David: We are a small country parish, one mile off of the freeway (US Interstate I-75.) Most people are attracted by the tourist site (Frankenmuth - Little Bavaria) several miles east of the exit, and only find us if they make the wrong turn (going west on Birch Run Road.) I call us the “wrong side of Frankenmuth.” It’s a contemporary structure, in the shape of an octagon, but surrounded by the windows from the original church. Early Christians celebrated Sunday as “the eighth day” signaling a new creation after the resurrection of Jesus. Sacred Heart Church was built by Irish settlers, and the current parish of Ss. Francis and Clare adds in Assumption Cemetery to the North.

Gordon: Thank you for  fascinating interview.

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