Father Thomas J. Bauer, MM
Born: March 13, 1912
Ordained: June 14, 1938
Died: June 4, 1980
Father Thomas J. Bauer (U.S. – Chicago Chinese Mission) died peacefully at Thorec Hospital in Chicago, at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 4, 1980. He died peacefully in the presence of Father Pete Brien, a Maryknoll Sister and a Chinese secretary from his parish.
Born in Brooklyn on March 13, 1912, Tom was the second of three children of George Bauer and Regina Blatz. The beginning of his mission vocation was out of St. Aloysius parish school under the direction of the Dominican Sisters – many of whom had worked in the Puerto Rico mission. From St. Aloysius he attended Cathedral College, Brooklyn, for six years. During this time, because of the work of Mission Relief in Brooklyn, he was in contact with Maryknoll and visited the Knoll several times. Tom wrote: “œIt was the spirit of the students at the Knoll that struck me; their joy in their work and the pleasure with which they look forward to their ordination and appointments to the mission fields.” After one of these visits Tom approached his father about his desire to join Maryknoll and the mission fields. His father told him the choice was Tom’s and that he should, as his father would, pray to do God’s will. Shortly after that, in September of 1931, Tom entered Maryknoll, where he was an outstanding student and seminarian. His studious, conscientious and scholastic tastes, developed in the seminary, served him well through all of his missionary career.
Ordained on June 14, 1938, Tom was assigned to China where he served for more than thirteen years in parish duties as well as teacher in the minor seminary at Kweilin. In 1939 he began his career in journalism as the editor of the China Missionary Bulletin, a position he held until 1952. He was, at the same time, the China correspondent for the NCWC News Service. Among his many literary accomplishments were an entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia on “Communism and Christian Missionaries” (Supplement II) , as well as a 1954 World Horizon Report entitled “The Systematic Destruction of the Catholic Church in China”.
Because of illness, Tom returned to the U.S. from China in 1952 for treatment at Monrovia, Cal., under the care of the Maryknoll Sisters. When recuperation was complete in 1954, he began his service in the Cultivation Department as an Editorial Assistant. He quickly passed to the role of Assistant Editor of Field Afar, and Editorial Director of the entire Publications Department. In 1963 Tom began another of his diverse assignments as pastor of the Chicago Chinese Mission, where he continued until his death.
Tom was one of the outstanding men in communications within the Society, and yet, he himself tended to be quiet and self-contained. Tom was a fine student with a scholastic bent, yet he was extremely successful as pastor, both in China and in Chicago. He was always forthright in presenting his viewpoints, but gained renown throughout his career for his spirit of cooperation and dedication to the Society. As one Superior expressed: “He wants to do his very best and to be at the call of the Society. He was a good priest, faithful to his work, with a fine spirit.”
There was a Wake Service at St. Therese’s Mission, Chinatown, Chicago, Ill. on June 6th, followed by a Mass at 9 p.m. A second Mass was celebrated there on Saturday, June 7th, at 10 a.m. At the request of Father Tom’s family, a Wake Service was held at the Peter Geis Funeral Home, Ridgewood, N.Y. At Maryknoll, N.Y. a Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated on June 9th, at 11:45 a.m. The principal Celebrant was Father Edward Manning; the Homilist Fr. Francis Daubert; the biography was given by Fr. John Cioppa. Burial in the Maryknoll Cemetery followed the Mass.
Few men within Maryknoll have served such varied positions with such distinction as did Father Tom Bauer. A measure of his life might be seen in the fact of his continuing work at the Chinese Mission while obviously suffering from illness. Tom’s work continued virtually to the end of his life.
“Well done, good and faithful servant!”