Father Tom's family was of the faith tradition of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, one of the 22 Eastern Catholic churches in full communion with Rome. He became affiliated with the Latin rite during his seminary days. He was taught by the Sisters of the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the school. He enjoyed solid spiritual formation with the influence of many people, including his now-83-year-old mother, who has always had a devoted prayer life and led the family in their daily rosary; an aunt, Sister Cecilia, who planted seeds of priestly vocation; and their family friend, Father Joseph. Two of Father Tom's sisters were also called to religious life. His older sister, Sister Salomy, is a geriatric nurse in Germany, and his youngest sister, Sister Sancy, is an accountant in a hospital in India. His married siblings have blessed him with six nieces and nephews.
In 2002, Father Tom had the opportunity to do his advanced studies in the United States at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, during which time he was also the spiritual formation director at the Saint John Vianney College Seminary. He obtained his doctorate in Organization Development and returned to India to be a college principal. In 2011 Father Tom discerned to come back to the USA and went to the Northwoods of Wisconsin, where he pastored in the Woodruff, Rhinelander, and Grantsburg areas in the Diocese of Superior for five years.
It was while at the University of St. Thomas that Father Tom met and worked with the then-Auxiliary Bishop of St. Paul, our own Bishop Richard Pates; and it was Bishop Pates who invited Father Tom to move to Council Bluffs to pastor Corpus Christi. Father Tom's impressive academic credentials, including his collaboration on a soon-to-be published book on business ethics, "Building Ethical Cultures in the Emerging Markets," as well as his previous pastoral and leadership experience, preeminently prepared him to be a great shepherd of his new flock.
Father Tom has a warm and engaging personality and started his pastoral ministry by the three L's: Listen, Learn, and Love people. He loves to meet and greet people and welcomes them graciously. He believes one builds community by working with the people and engaging their hearts. He loves to get to know people's stories and their needs so that "we can take care of our community together." One way he likes to build relationships is by hosting monthly potlucks, where he brings together eight to ten people for a chance to get to know them, as well as introduce them to some traditional Indian cooking.
Father Tom is a man of many interests. He believes in intense personal prayer and does daily meditation; but he also loves to play Ping-Pong, golf, cricket, volleyball, and also loves to cook. He is looking forward to a Ping-Pong tournament with youth and families this summer. While in Minnesota and Wisconsin, he learned to enjoy cross-country skiing, fishing, jet skiing, and snowshoeing. He jokes that he could hardly believe that Jesus walked on water until he came to the United States!
Father Tom will officially be installed as pastor of Corpus Christi Parish by Bishop Pates during the weekend of June 11th and 12th. Please plan to attend and formally welcome our new shepherd!
Also be sure to sign up for a Pastor's Potluck dinner with Father Tom. You can check out his culinary skills with Indian spices, as well as help him begin cultivating a "garden of life" here at Corpus Christi. To sign up, add your name to the sign-up sheet at the back of any of the worship sites, or leave a message for Peggy McClellan at 712-323-9524 with your name, phone number and the number of guests you'd like to bring.
AUTHOR: SUE DEVETTER
Sue works as a court reporter in Omaha. She has attended Corpus Christi Parish since February 2011. She is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, serves on the Digital Outreach Committee, and loves Bible and book studies. She and her husband, Chuck, live on an acreage near Council Bluffs. They have three grown children and the world’s six most beautiful grandchildren.