It was a leap, but fortunately, it was not one Dennis Walker ’10 had to make alone.
A Syracuse native, Walker earned an undergraduate degree in accounting and a master’s degree in business administration from Le Moyne. He went on to work as an auditor, first for Onondaga County and then for the state of New York. By almost any measure, he was successful. He earned a good living and was well-liked by his co-workers. But about four years into his career he began to ask himself a series of serious and probing questions, including: Is this what I want to do with my life and, more importantly, is this what God wants me to do with it?
Faith has always been central to Walker. As a child, he was a communicant and an altar server at St. James, now Our Lady of Hope. Some members of the parish community even wondered aloud if he might become a priest on day. However, it wasn’t until after he graduated from the College that he grew to appreciate “just how beautiful and comprehensive” his faith is and that God was calling him to something else. And so, in 2015, after a great deal of prayer and reflection, the Le Moyne alumnus gave up his apartment and most of his furniture and entered Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Md. He was recently ordained in the Diocese of Syracuse and, in his own words, is “no longer living for a paycheck, but to be a servant to God, His people and His Church.” Father Walker is the parochial vicar St. Rose of Lima Church in North Syracuse and St. Margaret’s Church in Mattydale.
“It was a risk,” he says of decision to leave his job and enter the priesthood. “But one thing I am calling to mind right now is that risks are sometimes worth taking. The experience of giving my life to God has been one of greatest, and most surreal, of my life.”
Father Walker sees his new role as that of “being an evangelist in every sense of the word.” That means presenting the Gospel in its truest form, particularly to those who may not have heard it, and being a conduit of God’s mercy. He credits his time at Le Moyne with helping to prepare him for this work because it taught him to be “adaptable and prepared, a constant student, and someone who is always open to the will of God.” After all, when he entered the College, he thought he knew exactly which path he would take, not knowing that the Lord would be nudging him in a different direction. But now he is exactly where he needs to be.
“I am here for the service of people, whether it is visiting the sick, celebrating funeral masses, or attending to general parish life,” he says. “That is my identity, and everything else flows from that.”