Reverend Thomas Jean Smith

This article was posted on: October 15, 2018

With hope in the Resurrection, we commend to the Lord


Father Thomas J. Smith, at the age of 84 and a priest for 58 years, died Thursday, October 11, 2018, at the Benedictine Manor in La Crosse, Wisconsin. October 11 is also the 56th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

Thomas Smith was born February 5, 1934, in La Crosse, Wisconsin to William R. and Clarice M. (Newman) Smith.  He was baptized at St. Mary’s Church in La Crosse and received his elementary education at St. Mary School and also Holy Trinity School in La Crosse.  He attended Aquinas High School in La Crosse.  His college studies were at Holy Cross Seminary in La Crosse and his theological education was at Mount Saint Bernard Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.  On May 14, 1960, he was ordained a priest at Christ the King Chapel in Holy Cross Seminary by the Most Reverend John P. Treacy.

Father Smith’s first assignment began six weeks after ordination as an Assistant at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Chippewa Falls.  A year later, he was assigned as the Assistant at St. Mary (Immaculate Conception) Parish in Tomah.  Father Smith was assigned as an Assistant at St. Anthony de Padua in Athens on June 30, 1964.  He served as the Assistant and Chaplain at St. Patrick Parish and St. Mary Hospital, both in Sparta from 1969-1970.  In July 1970, he was appointed as an Assistant at St. Thomas More Parish in La Crosse; two years later he was appointed as the Associate Pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish in La Crosse.  On February 2, 1974, Father Smith was appointed Pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Seneca and, by autumn, was appointed the administrator of St. James Parish in Rising Sun.  He was relieved of his responsibilities at Rising Sun in the summer of 1976, while retaining his duties in Seneca until July 1, 1982, when he was appointed as the Associate Pastor at Holy Ghost in Chippewa Falls and St. Bridget Parish in Springfield.  Father Smith became the Chaplain at Bethany-St. Joseph Home in La Crosse in January 1985, and, in 1987, he was appointed the Chaplain at St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation Center, which later became Benedictine Manor.

Father Smith was an organist since his early seminary days and he played at many diocesan events.  He was dedicated to the Knights of Columbus and served as the Chaplain of councils in Sparta, Colby, Prairie du Chien, Chippewa Falls and the Faithful Friar of the Assembly in La Crosse.  From 1967-1969, Father Smith served as the first Diocesan Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus.  He wrote a column on the Sunday readings for The Times Review and Catholic Times newspapers from 1985-2011.

Father Smith was granted senior priest status on July 1, 2002.  As a senior priest, he lived in La Crosse and played the organ for many events at Holy Cross Diocesan Center; he also remained involved in the Knights of Columbus until 2006.

Father Thomas Smith was preceded in death by his parents, his infant brother Joseph, and his sister Patricia.  He is survived by his brother James, nieces Tamara and Jennifer, and nephew Michael.

The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Christ the King Chapel in Holy Cross Diocesan Center at 11:00 a.m. Monday, October 22, 2018.  The Most Reverend William Patrick Callahan will be the main celebrant and Reverend Eugene J. Wolf will be the homilist.  Entombment will follow at Catholic Cemetery in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Visitation will be held at Christ the King Chapel on Monday, October 22 from 10 o’clock until the time of the funeral Mass.

The Diocese of La Crosse and family are being assisted by Blaschke-Schneider Funeral Home in La Crosse.  Memorials may be made to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse.

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