Fr Tom talking to a group of boys during summer camp at the Monroe, Michigan mission center.

Fr. Tom talks to a group of boys during a summer camp at our place in Monroe, Michigan.

Fr. Tom a few years before ordination in 1067.

Fr. Tom a few years before ordination in 1967.

Fr Tom Vermiglio smiles broadly holing a flute of champaign to celebrate his 50th ordination anniversary

Fr. Tom Vermiglio smiles while holindg a flute of champagne during his 50th anniversary lunch at the Cincinnati Mission Center. 

After 13 years of schooling, preparation and training, Tom Vermigilio was finally ready for his first mission assignment. That was in 1972, and over the next 50 years Fr. Tom’s work would take him to Canada, the United States, Kenya, and other East African countries.  Now, Fr. Tom lives at the Cincinnati Mission center and helps with various parish ministries around the city.

On Friday, June 3 — the Feast of The Ugandan Martyrs — Fr. Tom celebrated his 50th ordination anniversary with a special Mass and lunch at the Cincinnati Mission Center. 

During his homily Fr. Tom recalled his early mission. He needed to learn Swahili, which was not easy for this young man from Wisconsin.

“I prayed to the Holy Spirit for the gift of tongues. The Holy Spirit said ‘go to school for three months then practice the language for three years and then maybe you’ll begin to learn the language,’” Fr. Tom said, chuckling. One of his earliest memories was teaching religious education class to a group of 4th graders. He said they loved to laugh at his pronunciations. 

Fr. Tom went on to talk about the Holy Spirit since it was the day before Pentecost weekend. Not everyone is called to mission work ‘ad gentes,’ he explained. For some, mission work is at home.

“It truly is the Holy Spirit that inspires us missionaries.”

Fr. Tom Vermiglio was ordained a Comboni Missionary Priest on May 27, 1972. The first five years of his priesthood were spent in East Africa, teaching secondary school and doing parish ministry. For the next 13 years he worked in the United States and Canada serving in vocation and mission promotion. In 1990 he returned to Kenya for three more years of parish ministry, serving in the slums of Nairobi. 

From 1993 until 2006, Fr. Tom did mission promotion and parish work back in the United States and Canada. It was in 2006 that he was assigned to our community in Kitchener, Ontario where Fr. Tom remained until last year. He worked at St. Joseph and St. Ann parishes supporting the diverse congregation.

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