It you stroll by St. John’s around 11:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, there is a good chance you’ll see a flock of giggling: children surrounding a slender priest with wavy gray hair— Father Daniel Jackson, the church’s 48-year-old associate pastor.

The children shadow Jackson’s every move, and maneuver to get a hug and a blessing from the man who always takes the lime to stoop down and tell each one how glad he is they came to mass. If Jackson is walking ahead of a family, a child may burst into a run to catch up and tap him playfully from behind. And if for some reason he is missing from the crowd on the church steps, a little one will pull on her mother’s arm and whisper anxiously, “Where is Father Dan?”

But children aren’t the only ones whose eyes light up when they see “Father Dan,” either conducting services at the majestic cathedral on Main Street, or knocking on doors in St. John’s 500-member parish.

“Where do you go when everything is messed up? Probably to Father Dan”, says Sister Beverly Parsons, principal of St. John’s High School. “I have known him for 20 years. During that time I have known that I could call on him for any person in need. He is one in a million when it comes to being there for others.”

Born in 1969, and raised with two brothers and a sister in the house his grandfather built in 1932 on Summer Avenue, Jackson had a childhood that now sounds almost idyllic.

In an interview this past autumn, Jackeson leaned back comfortably in his chair and fondly recalled the days when Denton was a small town, where everyone knew everyone else and nobody locked their doors. Since there were no supermarkets, people did the bulk of their shopping at the corner stores, which functioned like neighbor-hood centers. “If your mom wasn’t home, you just went to Helen’s at the corner store,” Jackson says.

One of Dan Jackson’s favorite activities as a kid was going with his friends to Friday afternoon movies.

“We had the Frederic Theater, and 5th Street had the Movie Theater. But the one we all went to was the Galaxy Theater a first-class movie theater with a balcony where they showed cartoons, coming attractions that left you hanging on your seats, and two family-style movies”, he says.