Denise Fedorow
Freelance Writer
July 22, 2023 // Diocese

Father Daniel Durkin Celebrates 50 Years of Priesthood

Denise Fedorow
Freelance Writer

Father Daniel Durkin

Father Daniel Durkin celebrated his 50th jubilee with a big party on Tuesday, June 27, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Fort Wayne. He said he enjoyed a special program and party with approximately 150 people in attendance.

Father Durkin said big influences in his vocation to the priesthood were family members who were priests, like his uncle, Monsignor Thomas Durkin, and he said, “a number of my cousins were Precious Blood priests.”

Even though he’s retired, he continues to serve in a number of ways as he is able. Longtime friend and health care representative Pam Allmandinger, said he sometimes concelebrates Mass at St. Elizabeth, hears confessions, takes Communion to the nursing homes, and offers counseling to those who need to talk.

According to a previous article in Today’s Catholic by Jodi Marlin, Father Durkin’s formation began at what was once Our Lady of the Lake seminary on Lake Wawasee in Syracuse when he was in high school. He went on to attend St. Gregory’s Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio, and finished his formal education at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Father Durkin was ordained on May 26, 1973.

After his ordination, he was first assigned to Holy Family Parish in South Bend and then to St. Jude Parish in South Bend. The first church he pastored was at St. Joseph and St. Catherine in Roanoke.

According to Marlin’s story, Father Durkin was quoted as saying, “It was during my time in Roanoke that I worked with Monsignor Robert Schulte to create the training program for the permanent diaconate ministry in the diocese.”

He also brought the Christ Renews His Parish program to St. Joseph, according to Allmandinger, who said she thought it was the second parish in the diocese to have the program. Allmandinger shared that a participant in that program gave a testimonial to Father Durkin saying he was on the wrong road and when he went to the Christ Renews retreat, “It completely turned his life around and he was so grateful to Father Dan,” she said.

His next assignment was St. Mary of the Assumption in Avilla where he oversaw the construction of a necessary school expansion. He was then assigned to St. Henry and Sacred Heart, Fort Wayne, until Sacred Heart was designated as a personal parish where the Latin Mass is celebrated.

Father Durkin said it pleased him to serve at Sacred Heart because his uncle, Monsignor Durkin, started the parish.

Allmandinger shared that Father Durkin once told her that bringing the Lord to people in the Eucharist and helping people enter the Church were so rewarding to him as a priest. She also shared another program that Father Durkin brought to St. Joseph that made a big impact – he started a Day of Recollection or Renewal for seniors.

She shared that her mother was a senior who would cry, wishing she could participate in the Christ Renews His Parish retreats. When Allmandinger told Father Durkin this, he came up with the idea for the Day of Recollection for the seniors in nursing homes. He would celebrate Mass, offer the Anointing of the Sick, they’d have dinner, and a speaker was brought in – someone who’d traveled to the Holy Land, for example.

“He did that every year for 10 years,” Allmandinger said. “He’d bring the seniors in for a Christmas party too. Seeing those seniors participating in the Day of Renewal was just phenomenal.”

Allmandinger also shared that for his jubilee celebration, Father Durkin received several letters from parishioners at St. Joseph, including one from a young girl sharing how much it meant to her that he administered her First Holy Communion and Confirmation and that he was always there as a friend. She said his response after reading the letters was, “We need to have another party!”

“We are all very fond of him,” Allmandinger said.

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