Thomas Michael Fitzgerald
Tom was born in Ballindereen, Co. Galway, Ireland in 1925, the youngest of 11 children of John (a policeman) and Mary Ann (nee Gallagher). His father died when he was very young so he worked the family farm to support his mother and sister Pauline, his older brothers having left home.
He left Ireland during the second World War to become a Radio Operator in England, and after the war, he emigrated to Canada.
Tom became a Redemptorist Brother, serving for many years as a Bursar and Porter at St. Anns Monastery in Montreal.
Feeling called to serve God in the wider world, Tom left the Redemptorists about 1970 and worked as a volunteer on Missions in New Guinea; Australia and Northern BC (the Frontier Apostolate).
While in Australia he met his wife Patricia, who was also doing volunteer work at a Retreat called Montserrat near Melbourne. They returned to Canada in 1975. While living in the Kootenays, the couple fostered (and later adopted) Wayne, a very fragile native baby who needed a milder climate. Therefore the family moved to the coast and settled on Mayne Island in 1979.
Since there was no Catholic Chapel on the Island, the couple was encouraged by a Redemptorist priest Father Joe Boyle (R.I.P.) to ask the diocese to send a priest.
Tom and friends built the Chapel of St Francis of Assisi on the Fitzgeralds land on Mariners Way. Tom has assisted the Bishop and different Clergy with the care of those Catholics living on Mayne Island or coming as visitors.
Tom also served the Island and supported his family by working as a House Painter, caretaker of the Health Centre and the Dinner Bay Park. He was for many years the dedicated maintenance person for the Village Bay Improvement District.
After a short illness caused by aggressive lymphoma in his brain and back, Tom passed away at the Victoria Hospice on January 1st, 2003.
Patricia and Wayne thank sincerely Dr. Juliana Losier; Caroline Bender; Jane Harvey; the Mayne Island Home Care Workers; all the doctors, nurses, and volunteers at the Cancer Clinic and Victoria Hospice; all who visited Tom in hospital and in Hospice; those friends who relieved Patricia for a few hours or overnight when Tom was very ill; the Hospital Chaplain, Fr Ron Rissling, and volunteers from St. Patricks who ministered to Tom by bringing him regular Holy Communion; those who attended the Celebrations of his life held at St. Andrews Cathedral in Victoria, and at the St. Francis Chapel on Mayne Island.
Special thanks to Father Jules Goulet, OMI; Father D.D. MacDonald, OMI; Denis Marcotte; Gerry Taylor; First Memorial Funeral Services; all the pallbearers and participants in the January 6th Service in Victoria; Wanda Pietrzak for catering the Chapel Family Memorial Service and to Ben Bergman for putting the services on the Internet so Tom and Patricias families in Ireland and Australia could receive them.
Patricia also wishes to thank the Victoria Human Exchange Society Board members and persons in the Houses sponsored by the Society for taking over her volunteer duties and being so genuinely compassionate and supportive during the last three months. On Mayne, special thanks to Audrey Stout and family and to Dawne Cressman, Patricias liaison with the SSI Branch of VHES.
Thanks also go to those who sent donations to the VHES; Victoria Hospice; and other Charities, in Toms memory. A carving, created by Wayne Thomas, the Fitzgeralds adopted son, will be donated to Hospice in memory of Tom, who made himself well-loved during his short stay.
Toms ashes will finally be interred in the Churchyard of St. Mary Magdalene, on Mayne Island. All are invited to attend the Burial Mass/ Memorial Service at that time (March or April date to be announced).
Well, everything went off well----they all did their best-- Tom
Update: May 14, 2003
Tom Fitzgerald, who passed into spirit on January 1st this year, will be buried from St Mary Magdalene Church on Wednesday August 20th at 1.00pm. The Burial Mass will be celebrated by Father Joe Killoran of Comox and Father Jules Goulet OMI of Saltspring Island. Organist: Aideen Lydon of Victoria.
Refreshments afterwards at the Church House.
The time should enable travellers from Vancouver and Victoria to arrive and depart on the same day.
We thank St Mary Magdalene's Church for the use of the facilities. We ask that anyone who would like to contribute to refreshments contact Patricia closer to the date. 539-5310.
May he rest in Peace!
Update: August 25, 2003
The family of Tom Fitzgerald wishes to thank warmly all
those who participated in
the Mass and Interment of ashes at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene on
Wednesday, 20th August 2003.
Very special thanks to the Anglican Church for donating
the plot where Tom is buried
in recognition of all his work at the Church House/ grounds. The Eulogy by Reverend
Rob Willingham was much appreciated as was the help of Janet Guy and Shirley
Heslip in connection with music and hymns. Organist, Aideen Lydon, originally from
Toms County Galway, played beautifully during the Mass.
Two priests traveled long distances to Concelebrate the
Eucharist; we thank you
both, Father Jules OMI (Ganges) who delivered a Homily on the Beatitudes and how
they could be seen in Toms life; and Father DD MacDonald OMI (Agassiz) who
conducted the poignant Graveside Service. John Larsen, close friend and neighbour
of Toms, (who worked with him on construction of the Chapel of St. Francis in 1982)
prepared the grave and will work with Toms son Wayne on the gravestone. Thanks
The Refreshments were catered by Catholic Chapel members
Wanda Pietrzak, Bev
Marcotte, Yvette Buziak and Elizabeth Tewes. Others brought extra food so there was
more than enough, for which we are most grateful. Flower arrangements were
contributed by Wanda Pietrzak and Yvette Buziak.
Thank you to all who took part in the Liturgy--Dennis
Marcotte, who did such a lot of
behind the scenes work and served as Acolyte; Gerry Taylor and Elizabeth Tewes for
Readings; and all those friends of Toms who attended. (Many local people were
unable to attend this farewell to Tom due to a conflicting event at the Ag. Hall.)
There was a table with Memorabilia: photos spanning Toms
life; his beloved
accordion; retirement plaques presented to Tom by MIHCA and VPID; a history of
the Catholic presence on Mayne Island; and Chapel photos. Pat Jamieson and Marnie
Butler from the Island Catholic News in Victoria kindly attended and took photos.
Finally, thanks to Janet Guy for offering taxi service
for Vancouver and Victoria
friends. And special thanks to Elizabeth Hengstler for bringing Father Jules over by
boat. Irene Currie who came with them had developed a great friendship with Tom
over the years because of communications about parish business. Over past months,
Monica Hogg (MonicaWorks) has freely posted Tom's Eulogy and photo on the Mayne
Island Web-site and will predictably add these acknowledgements--thanks Monica.
Christa of Island Tides and Gregg of ALEA must also be warmly thanked for
publishing notices and articles relating to Tom.
We are very appreciative of all the prayers, phone calls,sympathy
donations made in Toms memory to local Churches and other local charities.
Wayne Fitzgerald Thomas
Those who die in Grace are no further from us than God--and God is very near.
John Cardinal Newman
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