|Deacon Bob True retired from active ministry in early January. He spent his ministry at Christ the King Church, where he helped lead the RCIA program. Photo by Rick Musacchio|
After 28 years at Christ the King Church, the last 17 as a deacon, Bob True retired from full-time ministry in early January.
“I have been invited into the highs and lows, the yin and the yang, the passions, deaths and resurrections of peoples’ lives,” said Deacon True, who was ordained in May 1999. “It’s been quite an honor and a blessing.”
To show their appreciation, Christ the King parishioners held a special retirement event for Deacon True in November.
Deacon True’s spiritual journey gained steam after he and his wife, Shirley, moved their family to Nashville from his hometown of New Orleans in 1967. At the time, Father Charley Giacosa was at St. Henry Church, and Father Vince Kaufman was at Christ the King. “The two of them brought Cursillo to Nashville from Memphis,” recalled Deacon True. “Father Charley made very sure that I made that first Nashville Cursillo in 1967. That’s really what launched my spiritual journey, or at least kicked it into high gear.”
The Trues served on several Cursillo teams as the movement took off in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Deacon True’s spiritual journey would continue in earnest. He signed on for a four-year lay ministry course, led by Irene Boyd of the Nashville Diocese. Nearing its completion, Deacon True was asked to put his training into action. “When you get commissioned a lay minister, you were supposed to commit to a specific ministry,” explained Deacon True. “Father (James) Mallett, my spiritual director, asked if Shirley and I would help Father (David) Perkin head up the RCIA process at Christ the King” preparing people to enter the Catholic Church.
In preparation for that assignment, Father Perkin and the Trues attended several week-long workshops to learn about RCIA ministry. “It was such a great experience being part of getting RCIA started at Christ the King,” Deacon True said. “And it’s still going strong today.”
Deacon True’s spiritual journey reached its full flower when he was ordained a permanent deacon in 1999 and took on more roles and ministries at Christ the King.
When he retired from his business career in 2005, he was ready to fully immerse himself in his Christ the King duties. Father Mallett, then Christ the King’s pastor, requested that he develop a new marriage preparation program. The idea was that every engaged couple would go through an identical preparation process, no matter who was officiating their ceremony.
It was a natural fit, given the Trues’ previous experience counseling couples. “Shirley and I were on marriage retreat teams 35-40 years ago, when we’d be cloistered in a motel or a retreat center,” said Deacon True. “We got to know 25 couples at each of the gatherings we were responsible for.”
Assuming the new marriage preparation program became possible when Joceline Lemaire stepped into Deacon True’s RCIA leadership role. Since then, the Trues have led 60 engaged couples a year through the process. This will be one of the responsibilities he’ll hand over in January as he retires from full-time ministry.
Deacon True grew up in Louisiana, his family dividing its time between New Orleans and the Mississippi Coast. He attended the University of Mississippi – “Ole Miss” – on a Navy scholarship. “When you graduate, you can take your commission in the Navy or the Marine Corps,” said Deacon True. “I was getting married, and I liked the idea of being with my wife rather than being at sea.”
Deacon True gave up his regular career commission in the Marines after three years, but remained in the “ready reserves” until 1973.
He met his wife in high school; Shirley was a freshman when he was a senior. Although they were separated when Deacon True left for college, they met up again when she picked the same university, and they’ve been together ever since.
He began working at Sun Financial in 1961, and in 1967 moved to Nashville for the company, which had changed its name to SunLife of Canada. He left corporate management in 1975, turning to freelancing in the financial industry for his remaining working years.
Except for a two-year stint in Boston from 1972-74, the Trues made Nashville their geographic and faith home base.
Deacon True has loved and will miss ministry, which he considers the highlight of his career. He would still like to serve as a deacon and officiate a marriage “now and then.” A factor in his decision to retire is a recently developed peripheral neuropathy, which has contributed to balance issues. “I don’t want to be a distraction of any kind,” said Deacon True.
“I also have a wife who’s been the wind beneath my wings,” he said. “I want to spend more time with her, and our 14 grandchildren. Eleven of them live in this area. We are very thankful for that.”.