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Diocese Mourns the passing of Monsignor Edwin Thome


On Thursday, September 24, 2015, the Diocese of Gaylord received the news of the passing into eternal life of Reverend Monsignor Edwin A. Thome at the age of 87. Ordained a Catholic priest in 1954, Monsignor Thome generously served the Lord as a priest for over 61 years, most of them in northern Lower Michigan, and leaves a legacy of building up the kingdom of God. Through his preaching and teaching in parishes and schools, he helped form hearts and minds as he shared the Gospel message. He offered compassionate care to the poor, a listening ear to those who were troubled, and sought to bring the hope of Christ to all those he met.  More than once Monsignor Thome came out of “retirement” to serve where there was a need. He oversaw the building of several churches, served in several diocesan leadership roles and was named a Prelate of Honor by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in 2011. With a warm heart and a quick smile, Monsignor Thome was an icon in the Traverse City community and he will be greatly missed. 

While this is indeed a sad day, it is also one in which we remember, pray, and give great thanks to God for the gift of the life and ministry of Monsignor Edwin Thome.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.


Statement of Bishop Steven J. Raica

September 29, 2015

It is with deep sorrow that I received the news of Msgr Edwin Thome’s passing to eternal life. Since my arrival here a year ago, he has welcomed me and shared the enthusiasm of his pastoral ministry – especially most recently at St Joseph Parish, Mapleton.

I knew him as a man who loved being a priest and being involved in the lives of parishioners. Many of his accomplishments will live on as a tribute to his concern for the Church’s mission to proclaim Christ and to gather people together into vibrant faith communities. He believed in Christ as the way, truth and life. His love of Christ and the Church and the Church’s educational and charitable missions inspired many. In many ways he was a “man for all seasons.”

He was a giant in the presbyterate who befriended many who came to know him. His memory and legacy will live on in the various churches and parish structures he built as a pastor here in the Diocese of Gaylord. I will miss his smile and his words of encouragement. I extend my heartfelt sympathies to his family and friends.

At present I am accompanying a pilgrim group in Italy to prepare for the deacon ordination of Chris Jarvis and thus cannot be physically present for Msgr. Thome’s funeral, yet he remains in my thoughts and prayers. Today, I offered Mass for the repose of Msgr Thome at the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi to express my own personal closeness to those who are mourning Msgr Thome’s passing to eternal life.

Be assured of my prayers in the days ahead for the repose of his soul and consolation of his family and friends.

Most Reverend Steven J Raica
Bishop of Gaylord

Funeral Arrangements for Monsignor Thome

Reverend Monsignor Edwin Anthony Thome entered eternal life on September 24, 2015 at the age of 87. He was born March 2, 1928 in Grand Rapids, Michigan to  Joseph, Sr. and Theresa (Ritzenhein) Thome. He received his Bachelor of Arts from  Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, and also took advanced courses in Spanish  at the University of Mexico and in behavioral psychology at Notre Dame. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 5, 1954 at St. Andrew Cathedral in Grand Rapids by the Most Reverend Allen J. Babcock.

Father Thome began his priestly ministry by serving as Assistant for St. Francis de Sales Parish in Holland and was in charge of the Hispanic Apostolate in the Holland area. On June 23, 1961 he became the Director of Diocesan Missions in the Stanton-Edmore area, and in 1965 became the Pastor for St. Margaret Mary Parish in Edmore with the missions of St. Bernadette of Lourdes in Stanton, and St. Francis de Sales in Lakeview. On July 8, 1969 Father Thome was assigned as Pastor for Immaculate Conception in Traverse City where he served until August 19, 1972 when he was transferred to St. Ann Parish in Cadillac and St. Edward in Harrietta. During his stay in Cadillac he oversaw the construction of the current church on West Thirteenth Street. He was appointed in 1985 to establish a new parish in the Traverse City area and again oversaw the building of the church and the community of Christ the King Parish in Acme, where he remained until retiring to senior priest status on August 13, 2000. During his time there, he was appointed as Vicar General beginning on January 1, 1998 and served in that capacity until September 1, 2001. After retirement he began working with the Father Fred Foundation in Traverse City. From July, 2002 through December, 2014 Msgr. Thome served as Administrator, Sacramental Minister and Pastor for St. Joseph Parish (Mapleton) on Old Mission Peninsula. Other positions he held included Vicar, Director of Priestly Life, Consultor, Director of Priestly Vocations, Superintendent and President of the Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools, and member of the Presbyteral Council, Finance Council and the Priests’ Retirement Fund Board. On December 23, 2011 Father Thome was named a Prelate of Honor of His Holiness bearing the title of Monsignor.  

Monsignor Thome is survived by his brothers Father John, Gerard and Raymond. He was preceded in death by his sister Irene and brothers Richard and Robert.

Visitation will be held at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 12675 Center Rd., Traverse City on Monday, September 28, 2015 from 11:00 am until 8:00 pm. The vigil service, led by Father Robert J. Zuchowski, will be held at 7:00 pm.

On Tuesday, September 29, 2015, the Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 720 Second St., Traverse City at 11:00 am. Monsignor Francis Murphy will serve as celebrant, with Father Dennis Stillwell and Monsignor’s brother, Fr. John Thome, serving as concelebrants.

Monsignor Thome will be interred at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools, Father Fred Foundation, or St. Joseph Parish, all in Traverse City.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home. Please visit their website to sign his online guestbook.


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