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June 21, 2009

Looking back at 47 full years with gratitude

By Dolores Madlener



Father Thomas Tivy is retiring as pastor at Resurrection Parish.Catholic New World/Karen Callaway

He is: Father Thomas Tivy, pastor of Resurrection Parish; former pastor at Our Lady of Grace, both on Northwest Side. Ordained 1962 at St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. Has canon law licentiate degree from the Lateran in Rome. Recipient of Distinguished Alumnus Award from Quigley Preparatory Seminary in 2005.

Growing up: “I had two brothers. One is a retired priest in the Joliet diocese. My other brother died last year.” They grew up in Our Lady of Mercy Parish on the Northwest Side. “It was before the bungalow era, we lived in a home. We’d occasionally break a window playing ball in the alley. Dad was manager of the Chicago Athletic Club. It used to be at 12 S. Michigan Ave. Mom didn’t work outside. She said we were enough to handle.”

Thoughts of priesthood: My uncle was a priest, my mother’s brother, Father Thomas Meehan. He was sort of an inspiration.” Msgr. Meehan was editor of The New World from 1950-1956. “Tivy is an Irish name, but three of my grandparents were born here.”

Seminary days: “We started with 300 guys at Quigley; 75 went on to St. Mary of the Lake and 25 were ordained with me in 1962. I never had a car until after I was ordained.” The rule was: Not until five years after ordination. “My first pastor bought a car for the parish so I could get around.”

Rome after Vatican II: “For about a year after I was ordained I celebrated Mass in Latin and then they turned the altar around and turned the language around. It was an exciting time because all the changes were coming and there was a great involvement of laypeople. I studied in Rome in 1966 — the council ended in ‘65. The changes were just beginning to settle in. Priests in Italy were beginning to wear suits on the streets instead of cassocks.”

[The Lateran experience] was formative. I made some lifelong friends. Six of us went back to Italy last year for a reunion after 40 years, but we didn’t go near Rome. We stayed up in the North.”

Matrimonial tribunal: “I was there for about 20 years. It was challenging and a very healing ministry working with divorced Catholics. Everyone who came into the office was divorced. Church law was also changing so they could be ministered to in a more pastoral way. I was a judge for a while, before that an advocate, and finally for a short while the chief judge.”

Keeping a spiritual spark: “I have some good priest friends and those who have left the priesthood. They keep me honest or buoy me up. I’ve been in rectories with wonderful people, but it’s getting rarer because rectories are getting smaller and smaller. But I did have the great blessing of living with some wonderful priests and learning from them and working with them at the tribunal and in parishes.”

Typical day off: “I usually get together with my brother, we might go to a movie, go out to dinner or maybe drive to the lilac festival in Lombard … or have dinner with other friends.”

Hobbies: “I like to read. Right now I’m trying to pack up to retire. I like Michael Connelly’s mysteries and things like that for diversion. A favorite author would be Thomas Merton, not that I’m very contemplative, but I like to read about it.”

Retiring June 30, 2009: “My plans remain to be seen. I’ll be able to do some reading and traveling. I’ll probably help out on weekends at a couple parishes, but nothing definite yet. Life is what happens when you’re planning other things. It’s been a rewarding 47 years. I’ve met wonderful people at every parish and every ministry I’ve served in, and felt the Lord’s touch through them as I hope they felt his touch through me.”