Deacon Tom was born and raised in St. Louis Missouri and attended parochial grade school (St. Pius X) and high school (Rosary High School, now Trinity High School) in the northern suburbs of St. Louis (Glasgow Village, Spanish Lake, etc.). Tom has three siblings, two sisters and one brother, all older, Tom was the baby. In the secular world, Tom is an engineer and has been practicing engineering in the St. Louis area since 1980. He did his undergraduate studies (Bachelor Science Degree in Civil Engineering) at the University of Missouri – Rolla from 1976 through 1980 and was a member of the only Catholic fraternity on campus (Phi Kappa Theta). He attended night school as a young engineer and earned a Master of Science Degree in Civil Engineering in 1987. In connection with his formation leading to ordination as a Permanent Deacon in the Diocese of Belleville, Tom studied graduate level theology through Saint Meinrad School of Theology.
Deacon Tom and his wife Dawn, originally from the St. Louis area, were married in 1987 and moved to Sts. Peter & Paul Parish in Waterloo, Illinois in 1988. Deacon Tom was ordained a permanent Deacon for the Diocese of Belleville on May 25, 2013 and assigned to his home parish, Sts. Peter & Paul. Deacon Tom and Dawn have sons – Nick, Andrew and Eric. In the mid 1990’s when their children were old enough to start attending Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School (SPPCS), Dawn and Tom became more active in Sts. Peter & Paul Parish. Over the years they participated in and held positons in the parish with many organizations and responsibilities including Holy Name Society, Mary & Martha, SPPCS School Board, Saints Peter & Paul School Strategic Planning Committee, Pastoral Council (member, chairperson and secretary), Liturgy Committee (member and chairperson), Lector (lector, trainer, and scheduler), Apollos Project Chairperson, Communion Service Captain, Soccer coach, Luke 18 Retreat Chairpersons; Guidebook & Directory chairperson; and, Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.
There are many reasons Tom chose to apply to enter into formation to become a permanent Deacon; in his application to the diocese in 2008 he said “The list of reasons includes serve the people, give back to the church, help those in need, and evangelize. Even though I have been actively involved in our parish since about 1995, I have somewhat gotten away from physical work (frying fish, painting, picnic setup, etc.) and drifted towards pastoral work in the parish (worship committee, lector, Extraordinary Minister, Communion Service, etc.). I hadn’t really thought about becoming a deacon until Doug Boyer was assigned to Saints Peter & Paul. Doug’s assignment, coupled with my realization that the needs to minister to the people were so great and the number of lay and ordained ministers was so few, peaked my interest.
When the Lay Ministry Formation training was offered a few years ago, I decided to participate knowing that as a minimum I would pursue some form of lay ministry and that if I decided to pursue the Diaconate, I would have fulfilled that prerequisite. During my Lay Ministry Formation, I learned of the Apollos Project through the Aquinas Institute. I took it upon myself to promote and facilitate participation in the Apollos Project in our parish. This participation culminated in the discernment for, and selection of, a new Pastoral Associate in our parish. Shortly after Lay Formation, I was asked to participate in the training for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest. Each of these activities got me more and more interested and involved in lay ministry and ultimately led to my interest in the Diaconate and an ordained ministry.
The past year has been a period of prayer, discernment, reading and talking. The more I thought about the Diaconate, the closer I came to concluding that:
- I want to do it;
- I want to teach, preach and serve;
- it is the right thing to do; and,
- the needs are great.
I realize that our Church don’t need a savior, we have one, but the church does need help and I have a strong desire to help. When our pastor Msgr. Flach took ill last November with GBS, it really highlighted all of the above thoughts, feelings and activities and was the deciding moment that pushed me over the edge and told me to Just Do It!”