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But 13-year Rochester police veteran Lt. Mark Dibelka grew up without religion in his life until he was in high school and started going to sing at area churches in his California hometown as part of his high school's acapella group. Dibelka was a member of the Lutheran Church for several years in his early adulthood but decided it was not a good fit for him. He eventually settled into the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Dibelka, 38, was ordained in January 2008 and is an independent nondenominational minister and an assistant pastor of Our Fellowship and Joining Hands Ministry. He said his experience as a police officer has helped him in his ministry.
"You spend most of your time caring for needs of others and helping them with their problems," Dibelka said, adding that his problem-solving skills come from more than a decade of police work.
Dibelka, who is currently working toward his master of divinity degree at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, recently applied for a chaplain position with the New York Army National Guard.
"I feel the need to provide a guiding light," Dibelka said about helping those who are returning from combat and have suffered different levels of spiritual crisis. "I can help them deal with their needs before they become psychiatric needs."However, Dibelka said he does not plan on leaving the Police Department anytime in the next several years.