WEATHERSFIELD — After 59 years of priestly ministry, 28 of those at Corpus Christi Church in Wethersfield, the Rev. Thomas B. Campion will retire effective, December 31. In a tribute to his unwavering spiritual leadership, Corpus Christi School will dedicate their new gymnasium in his name, calling it Father Campion Court.
As a standout high school athlete and sports enthusiast, Campion is excited about the dedication. He loved playing baseball and could have played professionally in the Major Leagues. Both the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers organizations offered to sign him, but his heart and soul led him to study theology, and in 1948 he entered Saint Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield. The rest as they say is history.
Before arriving at Corpus Christi in 1983, he served at Saint Paul in West Haven, St. Francis in Torrington, and spent nearly half of his career from 1953 to 1980 as a professor and administrator at Saint Thomas Seminary, his alma mater.
“In those years he had a profound impact on young men who were preparing for the priesthood. Many priests in the Archdiocese have been the recipients of his example and encouragement. They are better priests today because of his influence. Likewise, countless numbers of the faithful have been enriched through his priestly ministry and example, and for this I am profoundly grateful,” said Archbishop Mansell.
Under his caring and unfaltering leadership, the Corpus Christi underwent the reinstallation of the Stations of the Cross, improved its handicap accessibility, and renovated the parish hall to expand its functionality. He also oversaw the expansion of Corpus Christi school, which included the addition of an art room, music room, and science library, and served as director of the religious education program.
Campion’s willingness to put others before himself is what makes him such a beloved priest said Natalie Conashevick, who has worked with him in the parish office for almost 25 years.
“He has always been there for me and the other parishioners…Through the death of my mother, husband, and a brother. I didn’t have to ask him for support, he was just there,” said Conashevick.
She says that many times when people move away and start their families, they come back to have Fr. Campion baptize their children, or perform their weddings.
Parishioner Mary Sweeney said that one of the things she’ll miss the most about Fr. Campion is the special greeting that everyone receives before Mass.
“He greets every parishioner at the front entrance before Mass with a big smile. And, when Mass is over, there he is again with a big smile at the side door saying, ‘Good bye,’” said Sweeney. “He is such a wonderful, warm person and has made a community of the parish. The old and young alike gravitate towards him, because they know they will be welcomed.”
Parishioners and students will miss Fr. Campion dearly, but know that at 84 years of age, it’s time for him to slow down.
“He needs to rest; this is all he knows, and all he’s done. It’s time to rest,” said Conashevick.