Father Thomas F. Foley, MM

Born: September 26, 1920
Ordained: June 12, 1948
Died: July 26, 2006

Father Thomas Foley died at St. Teresa’s Residence on July 26, 2006. He was 85 years old and a Maryknoll priest for 58 years.

Thomas Francis Foley was born in Waltham, Massachusetts to Thomas and Lucy Meagher Foley on September 26, 1920. He attended Joseph Kendell Elementary School and Belmont Junior and Senior High Schools, graduating in June 1939. During his senior year in high school he was named captain of the football team. His priesthood calling was encouraged by a friend’s copy of Maryknoll Magazine, which stimulated his interest to write to Maryknoll for additional information, and he entered Maryknoll Junior Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania in September 1939. Father Foley was ordained a priest on June 12, 1948 at Maryknoll, New York.

After ordination Father Foley was assigned to Bolivia. His parish ministry, upon completing language school, was first in Cochabamba, and then in Santa Cruz. After four years Father Foley, together with Father Donald Aubry, was assigned to work in other parishes in what is now called the Altiplano of Bolivia. He studied the language of the Aymara Indians for several months before opening an abandoned parish called Pas Penas on May 1, 1953. Unfortunately, Father Foley could not cope with the high altitude (12,000 feet), and he returned to the Santa Cruz area, where he began and continued work on credit union and rice-producing cooperatives. In October of 1956 he was briefly assigned to the Maryknoll House in Brookline, Massachusetts. He returned to Bolivia in 1957 to continue work with the cooperatives.

In April 1963 Father Foley was assigned to the Society Center at Maryknoll, New York to serve in the Promotion Department, and in September 1964 he was transferred to the Denver Promotion House.

Upon completion of his assignment to Promotion he was assigned to the Latin America Region and to Chile in 1965. After a little more than a year serving at St. Thomas Parish in Temuco, Chile, Father Foley was reassigned to the Central America Region and Guatemala.

In 1969 Father Foley was again assigned to the U.S. Region, where he did parish work and studied Clinical Pastoral Education. Upon completion of his studies he had attained the status of Assistant Supervisor, and for the next stage of his missionary life he was engaged in clinical hospital work, an area that he enjoyed very much. He worked at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center in Denver, Colorado, and then at St. Vincent’s Infirmary, a cancer research center in Little Rock, Arkansas. He also worked at M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute in Houston, Texas.

Father Foley was assigned to the Special Society Unit on September 1, 1988, taking up residence at Los Altos, California where he continued to work in parishes, hospitals, mental rehabilitation centers and various social service, educational and economic endeavors. In July 2004, he moved to St. Teresa’s Residence, Maryknoll, New York.

He recently wrote: “I don’t know how many miles I’ll go before I sleep, but I do know that I would never have been able if it had not been for family, friends, Maryknollers, Maryknoll, God’s graces and Mary’s protection.”

Wake services were held at 4:30 p.m. on July 31, 2006 at St. Teresa’s, with Father Paul Belliveau officiating, and at 7:30 p.m. in Queen of Apostles Chapel at Maryknoll Center where  Father James Manning officiated and Brother Martin Shea read the biography. Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated in Queen of Apostles Chapel on August 1, 2006 at 11:00 a.m. Father Joseph La Mar was Principal Celebrant, and Father Edward Walck, homilist. Burial followed in Maryknoll Society Cemetery with Father John Sivalon conducting the graveside service.