Irwin arrives at St. Martin of Tours

Published 10:17 pm Thursday, July 8, 2010

Service to the church has been one of Rev. Den Irwin’s passions since his college days, though at the time he wasn’t really sure exactly where that zeal would lead him.

But, to the members of St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Troy, all that really matters is that “passion” led him here.

Irwin arrived in Troy as the new pastor of the Catholic Church Wednesday night and will begin his official capacity with mass Saturday evening.

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Irwin comes to Troy after serving most recently in St. Vincent De Paul’s parish in Mobile. But, a Montgomery native, Irwin is no stranger to the Wiregrass. He grew up attending Catholic Church at St. Bede’s in Montgomery. His first parish assignment was to the St. Pius X Catholic Church in Mobile and then he served as associate pastor at Dothan’s St. Columba and administrator at Andalusia’s Christ the King Church.

Irwin, a priest for the last nine years, was assigned to the parish in Troy by the Archbishop of Mobile. Though, it’s a role he said he’s glad to accept.

“I’m excited about getting involved in campus ministry and getting people active in their faith and loving it,” Irwin said. “I’m also excited about getting families to bring their children to church so we can pass it on to them.”

Irwin is the cousin of one of Troy’s former parish priest’s Rev. James Dean.

Irwin said he began his faith journey began while he was studying civil engineering at Auburn University.

“There I became drawn to some sort of ministry,” Irwin said.

That ministry began when Irwin joined a year-long retreat ministry team called the National Evangelization Team (NET) and led him next to study theology at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.

Irwin said it didn’t take him long before he realized he was called to be a priest, a calling that led him to seminary two years later.

As a minister, Irwin said his greatest joy is sharing in some of life’s most meaningful events.

“It’s in being a part of people’s lives on a very meaningful level — baptisms, weddings, first Holy Communion, Confirmation, funerals, visiting the sick. It’s just all very special. You can be with people at their best and at their worst,” he said.

Irwin will celebrate his first weekend mass Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. at the church on Elba Highway.