HARTFORD — Father Donald K. Thomas, M.S., 86, a Missionary of Our Lady of La Salette, and a weekend assistant at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Naugatuck, passed away April 24, 2017 at Pointe Nursing and Rehab Center in Webster, Texas. He was born Nov. 5, 1930 in Jermyn, Pa., son of the late Raymond and Clare (Fitzpatrick) Thomas, and was the ninth of ten children.
In 1944, he attended the La Salette Seminary in Hartford and entered the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette Novitiate in Bloomfield on July 1, 1948. He made his First Profession of Vows on July 2, 1949. After completing his studies in the La Salette Seminary in Ipswich, Mass., he was ordained on May 11, 1957 at the former La Salette Shrine Church in Ipswich. Following his ordination, he served as spiritual director and professor at the La Salette Seminary in Jefferson City, Mo. In 1961, he was appointed director of vocations and mission procurator in St. Louis, Mo. For the next six years he served as assistant pastor at Our Lady of La Salette Parish in Berkley, Mich., and in 1968 he began ministering as assistant pastor or pastor of various La Salette parishes in Louisiana and Texas for the next 32 years. In the early 1980s, Father Thomas served one term as councilor to the provincial of the former Mary Queen Province in St. Louis.
Since retiring to Hartford in 2001, he found joy and support from the La Salette community by ministering at various parishes in the Hartford Archdiocese. In addition, Father Thomas continued to travel to assist at Mary Queen Parish in Texas each year and served St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Naugatuck on weekends and special occasions, for the past four years until his death. The driving force in Father Thomas’ life was his great love of being a Missionary of La Salette and of serving the people of God. On the 50th anniversary of his ordination he expressed his sincere thanks for the support that the La Salette community had given him in the form of education, community, encouragement and the opportunities to serve God’s people and the La Salette community in various ministries.
In addition to his La Salette confreres, Father Thomas is survived by one brother, William Paul Thomas and his wife, Johanna, of Pennsylvania and many nieces and nephews and their children and numerous friends. Father was predeceased by eight siblings, four brothers, Raymond, Henry, Francis and John, and four sisters, Romayne, Mariclare, and Eleanor.
Funeral services were held at Mary Queen Parish in Friendswood, Texas on Friday, April 28, 2017. In Hartford, a Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, at the La Salette Chapel of Hartford House. Burial was in Mt. St. Benedict Cemetery in Bloomfield A Memorial Parish Mass will be held on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 6 p.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 318 Church St., Naugatuck. The Alderson-Ford Funeral Home of Naugatuck is assisting with the local arrangements.
Contributions in his memory may be made to: Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette Retirement Fund, 915 Maple Avenue, Hartford, CT 06114-2330.