Mission Specialist, Prison and Jail Ministries Affinity Group

Dean Bucalos

Rev. Dean Bucalos is a Mission Specialist for the NBA Prison and Jail Ministries Affinity Group. He was ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and has served as the pastor of congregations in Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana. He is the founding pastor of New Life in Christ Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a congregation he began inside a women’s re-entry facility in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the former executive director of Mission Behind Bars and Beyond, an ecumenical re-entry program that trains small, faith-based groups to work with returning citizens upon their release from prison. He retired from the organization in 2020.

Prior to his ordination, Rev. Bucalos practiced law in Ashland and Lexington, Kentucky. He serves as an adjunct professor at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, where he teaches classes on Christianity and Social Justice. Dean is a trained volunteer facilitator for Restorative Justice Louisville in Jefferson County, Kentucky. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University, The University of Kentucky College of Law, and Lexington Theological Seminary.

He is married to Dr. Anne B. Bucalos, who is the Director of Faculty Development and Professor in the School of Education at Bellarmine University. Dean and Anne have two adult children and four grandchildren, who live in Louisville.

Getting to Know Dean

Why do you feel “called to care” about Disciples health and social service ministry?

Frankly, I think every follower of Jesus should feel called to care for those who are in need–whether they live on the margins of society, have been placed behind bars, or face obstacles that any one of us would have a hard time overcoming. My calling into ministry by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) continues to be, at once, humbling and empowering. So, serving with the NBA seeking justice, caring, loving, and using the gifts God has given me to try to make this world a kinder, better, more just place, is simply one more way I can live out my faith and follow the way of Jesus Christ.

Who is a hero of yours, and why?

Tough question. I have always looked upon Mahatma Gandhi with the greatest admiration.  He used his education, training, gifts, spiritual grounding, compassion, and ingenuity to change the world around him for the better. He worked on the ground with people and believed in non-violent means to reach his goals. He was patient in his pursuit of justice and the cause of freedom. In his own uncompromising way, he was a humble and powerful game-changer. It’s why so many of the successful movements incorporating non-violent, civil disobedience have been modeled after Gandhi’s methods. He is someone I would have loved to have met.

If I tried to find you in a supermarket, what aisle would you be in?

You’d find me looking at produce and then wandering around searching for the aisle where the vegetarian food is hidden and barely stocked.