Dennis Moorman, the oldest of five children, was born on July 20, 1963 to Donald Bernard and Martha Ann (Thole) Moorman at Margaret Mary Community Hospital in Batesville, Indiana. He grew up in the countryside of Decatur County in southeastern Indiana. He was baptized at St. Maurice Catholic Church, which has been merged with a neighboring church in Enochsburg to become St. Catherine of Sienna parish since 2013. He attended Clarksburg Elementary School and went on to graduate from North Decatur High School in 1981. He attended Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana where he graduated in 1985 with a B.S. degree in Agronomy, specializing in Soil and Crop Science.
After graduating from college, Dennis joined the Peace Corps and served as an Agricultural Consultant working with local farmers in Burkina Faso, West Africa from 1985-87. Before beginning his work, Dennis studied French, as well as the tribal language, Gulmancema. While living in the small village of Pièla in Burkina Faso, Dennis also very much enjoyed being a part of the vibrant life of that local parish.
After returning to the U.S. from serving his term as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, Dennis served as a Teaching Assistant at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC from 1988-90 and completed a M.S. Degree in Crop Science, specializing in Plant Physiology. Dennis then moved back to southern Indiana and studied Philosophy and pre-Theology at St. Meinrad School of Theology in preparation to enter Maryknoll.
Dennis entered Maryknoll on August 15, 1991, spending his Orientation year at the Maryknoll Society Center. He studied Theology and visited the men confined to the AIDS unit at Sing Sing Correctional Facility for his pastoral ministry. In the summer of 1992, Dennis moved to Chicago, Illinois to begin intensive theological studies at Catholic Theological Union. On March 19, 1994 Dennis took his First Temporary Oath with Maryknoll and in July began his Overseas Training Program with the Maryknoll Brazil Mission Community (MBMC). The MBMC has a unique character in that members from the Maryknoll Lay Missioners, the Maryknoll Congregation and the Maryknoll Society work together as a collaborative group of equals in their commitment to mission. After a two and a half year pastoral experience in Brazil, Dennis returned to Chicago to finish his studies and obtained his Master of Divinity degree and was ordained a priest on June 13, 1998 – the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua. After ordination Father Moorman was assigned to the Society’s Brazil Unit and joined the João Pessoa pastoral group as a member of the MBMC, which today is a part of the Maryknoll Society Latin America Region. During his early years in João Pessoa, Father Moorman engaged in a four-year study of Somatic Psychotherapy, which takes seriously the integration of body, mind and spirit.
Father Moorman was re-assigned to the United States Region in 2006 where he worked as Vocations Director in the Vocation Ministry Department until 2011. In 2007, Father Moorman was elected as a First Official Delegate from the United States Region to the Twelfth General Chapter held in 2008.
After a sabbatical in southeastern Brazil, Father Moorman was re-assigned to the Latin America Region in 2012 and began to work in São Paulo, Brazil as a member of the São Paulo pastoral group of the MBMC. The following year he was appointed Second Assistant to the Regional Superior of the Latin America Region for a three year term. Since then, he has served continually on the Latin America Regional Council until present, when he was recently, re-elected in 2022 and appointed as Assistant Regional Superior of the Latin America Region for a three-year term. In 2019 he was elected as the Second Official Chapter Delegate from the Latin America Region to the Fourteenth General Chapter held at Maryknoll, New York in 2021.
Father Moorman’s pastoral ministry has always involved traditional sacramental ministry in the local parish. He has especially enjoyed working with small Christian communities and engaging their creativity for celebrating and praying together as well as their commitment to action for the transformation of society. In addition, his pastoral commitment has always had a special focus on working with those who found themselves on the margins of society. In João Pessoa, his ministry included a special pastoral presence with the LGBTQ+ community who commonly experienced violence on a regular basis. He also committed to working with the Afro-Brazilian pastoral outreach to help educate against racism and celebrate the dignity of Afro-Brazilian peoples. This ministry led him into engaging in inter-religious dialogue with the many expressions of Afro-Brazilian religiosity and spirituality.
In São Paulo, Father Moorman’s pastoral ministry has focused primarily on the healing of trauma. While working in Vocation Ministry back in the U.S., he became aware of the vicarious trauma he suffered from working with people living with violence. For his own healing, he sought out therapy to heal from these experiences. This led him to becoming trained as a Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner which is a neurophysiological method for helping people re-negotiate traumatic experiences held in the body. Father Moorman later became trained in Systemic Family Constellations therapy and has integrated this with Somatic Experiencing® to help people recover from issues of transgenerational trauma. For the last twelve years, he has served as a Personal Session Provider and Supervisor with the Somatic Experiencing® Institute (SEI) and the Associação Brasileira do Trauma (ABT) to help students learning to work with trauma. Since 2010 Father Moorman has been working internationally in supporting trauma healing trainings and giving trauma healing workshops in Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Egypt, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Peru, South Korea, Tanzania, Uruguay and the United States. Since the Covid pandemic, his trauma healing work has expanded to include working with people virtually in Belgium, Colombia, Germany, Kenya, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and U.K. Father Moorman sees the expansion of this work as a possible future model for mission outreach, not limited to geographical regions, but focused on particular needs of situational circumstances of marginalization in our increasingly globalized world.
He has found the trauma healing work to be particularly gratifying in having the opportunity to accompany people at key moments in their life and to help facilitate their ongoing transformation. Father Moorman is also a practitioner of Aikido, a Japanese martial art, based on non-violence where he recently was promoted to “Sandan,” third-degree black belt. Aikido, which has a deeply spiritual aspect, has been an important practice for helping him to embody the healing work of integrating body, mind and spirit and becoming more present as a pastoral worker and priest. For Father Moorman, this Incarnational aspect of honoring “the Word become Flesh” has been central and key to his ministry and spiritual growth throughout the years.