The Capital Area Council of Churches hosted their 77th-anniversary awards celebration called Building Bridges on Oct. 10, 2018, at the Albany Country Club. Many gathered to honor those who embody peace, education and understanding. Fr. Dennis Tamburello has been a representative of all and many more incredible qualities. During the ceremony, Fr. Dennis humbly accepted the Reverend Carlyle Adams Ecumenical and Interfaith Award.
Fr. Dennis’s journey with his faith began at a Franciscan retreat house when he was a senior in high school. Years later, in 1973, Fr. Dennis found his home at Siena when he decided to transfer his education. He graduated in 1975 with a degree in modern language. Fr. Dennis later went on to pursue a master’s degree in theology and also received his Ph.D in Christian theology. Now he is the one educating: Fr. Dennis teaches religious studies, first-year seminar and modern language at Siena College.
One of the programs mentioned during the ceremony was the Bearing Witness Program. The Bearing Witness Program has been a program that Fr. Dennis finds immensely important. The program provides education about the Holocaust and anti-Semitism. Though there are many Holocaust deniers, this program does everything possible to validate the horrific prejudice that so many endured. Fr. Dennis shared his thoughts about the program, saying, “It means a lot to me to be a part of this program. I want to do my part to build peace and understanding, and to stop hateful speech and behavior. Catholics need to know the church’s often dark history when it comes to anti-Semitism and its perpetuating an attitude towards Jews that contributed to the Holocaust.”
Not only does Fr. Dennis serve at Siena, he also serves at a local prison. He has had many impactful experiences within this field. Fr. Dennis explained how difficult it can be at times. He noted, “One of my most memorable experiences is having to tell an inmate of the death of a family member. I felt sorry that he had to hear this from me, a total stranger.” Fr. Dennis went on to reflect, saying, “I felt that this encounter was a graced moment. It helped reinforce that I made the right decision in becoming a friar.” The respect and wisdom that Fr. Dennis has shared with not only this inmate, but many others, have contributed to the deserving award.