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Dedicated to a life of service

Sunday, May 22, 2011

When I was real little, my family lived several blocks from the home of the Roman Catholic nuns who taught at the Catholic schools and worked at the Catholic hospital in town.

Growing up in Grand Forks, N.D., you were either a Catholic or a Lutheran. I was both in a way. My father was a Catholic and my mother was a Lutheran.

The sisters would walk by our house throughout the week and I was eager to greet them as they strolled by. They were real friendly to this little boy and my mother would let me walk with them for a little way.

I was always fascinated by the way they dressed, with the white coif and black veil and the long habit. You could see them coming several blocks away.

Years later, I started a ministry for drug addicts and street people in Louisville, Ky., which happens to be a very Catholic community. A priest, whom we called Father Ted, served on our board of directors.

Father Ted's parish allowed me to use some office space attached to their property to start our ministry.

There was a Catholic counseling service that shared the building with us, and that ministry was run by a Catholic nun, Sister Martha. She became a friend of mine and we shared a lot of laughter and prayer together.

I was fascinated by Sister Martha's dedication to the church and her life of service. She was a Roman Catholic nun, but she didn't wear the habit and other apparel that I remembered from my childhood. She wore regular street clothes and blended in with the other women in the community

Those nuns that I have met over the years who served the Lord through their service to the church and helping people in a variety of ways were an inspiration to me.

I wanted to enter a life of service myself from an early age, and I have spent my adult life helping troubled people and serving in the church. I have dedicated my life, similar to those sisters, to serving the Lord, serving the church, and serving others.

In Mark 9:35 we read that Jesus challenged his disciples to be servants. He said, "If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all."

There are so many ways that we can be of service right here in our own community of Shelbyville and Bedford Country.

I know of a lot of people who serve the Lord and others in and through their home church. People serve by donating money to local charities and giving of their time. People serve by visiting the elderly in their homes or at their bedside in the nursing home. People serve all the time in their own homes and to their families. We can all serve others.

I recently took part in a fun activity organized by Diane Neeley called the Wheelbilly Womanless Beauty Pageant. It was a great event where men dressed up as women and competed against one another by raising money. The purpose of this event was to raise support for the annual Relay for Life of Bedford County. All of the money raised goes to the American Cancer Society which serves so many people in need.

I decided that I would take part in the Womanless Pageant this year to honor the memory of my sister, Rita Brewer, my brother, Bob Dezotell, and my father-in-law, Ralph Freeman. All three of them died from a different form of cancer. And I wanted to be a servant and help raise money in their memory.

I dressed up in a nun's costume, the costume of a servant, and I even won the trophy in the pageant. Imagine that! I was crowned Miss Wheelbilly 2011. I had a lot of fun and it was for a great cause.

The annual Relay for Life walk will be held this year on June 3 from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. at the Bedford County Ag Center. You can come out that evening and walk with others whose lives have been touched in one way or another by cancer.

We can all be of service right here in our own community. You may not be a nun, but we are called to serve.

Doug Dezotell can be contacted at dougmdezotell@yahoo.com.

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Doug Dezotell
Memories and Musings
Doug Dezotell is pastor of Cannon United Methodist Church and a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette.