Article Contributed by
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church will welcome The Rev. Denis O’Pray back to Jamestown for four weeks this summer from July 14th to August 5th. Fr. O’Pray has a long history of service to the Jamestown church and community and is happy to have the opportunity to come back and visit his hometown and serve the church that he loves once again.
“Thomas Wolfe was correct, You Can’t Go Home Again, but you can visit long enough to say thank you.” Says O’Pray. “That is what I am doing. The invitation to preach for a month provides me opportunity to give thanks for my spiritual upbringing at St. Luke’s. Here I learned that the journey in faith is a movement away from sin toward ever greater freedom in Christ, a freedom to serve others and build the kingdom of God here and now.”
The Rev. Denis O’Pray first came to Jamestown in 1951 when his father was Rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown. A graduate of JHS, O’Pray had a typical Jamestown childhood, delivering newspapers for the Jamestown Sun, serving as an acolyte at St. Luke’s and working at the YMCA, Camp Onyahsa and Carlson’s Viking foods, which was owned by his high school sweetheart’s father, J. Henry Carlson. He eventually graduated from Hobart College, married Lynette Carlson and moved to Minnesota where he earned his Master’s in American Studies at the University of Minnesota. He remained there for 10 years as part of the faculty and Director of the Undergraduate program in American Studies.
O’Pray ultimately discovered his calling and came back to Jamestown to serve at St. Luke’s for a short while before he was ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church in 1975. He led congregations in Minneapolis, Pasadena CA, and San Gabriel, CA and finally after what he calls a “failed retirement” in Burnsville, MN. During his tenure as a priest he has been very active in the world-wide Anglican Communion, traveling to 64 nations, and has served as trustee on the Boards of General Seminary and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific.
“Father O’Pray is part of the strong and vibrant history of St. Luke’s.” says the Rev. Luke Fodor, Rector of St. Luke’s. “Any institution is formed by its members and we are fortunate to have relationships with the people who came before us. I feel very blessed to have established this wonderful connection to the past and have considered Denis a mentor during my tenure with St. Luke’s. It is comforting to leave the parish in his capable hands while I am away.”
Father O’Pray is looking forward to reconnecting with friends and family in the area while he is here and also anticipates a return to the area again in September for the 60th reunion of the Jamestown High School Class of 1959.