FLOWER, Rev. Thomas
Father Thomas A. Flower, pastor of St. Bernard's Catholic Parish in Tariffville, CT, died peacefully on Wednesday, (July 14, 2010). The cause of death – as he would say – was "shortness of breath". Thomas Flower was born in Hartford on January 12, 1938, the son of Andrew and Mary (Quinlan) Flower, now both deceased. He attended public schools in Hartford beginning with Moylan-Wilson (McDonough) Elementary Schools and finishing at Bulkeley High School. He played several sports and was very active in his parish CYO. At the beginning of his senior year in high school he was elected president of St. Lawrence O'Toole's CYO. This was followed up by his election to the presidency of the Hartford Deanery CYP Council and finally he was elected president of the Catholic Youth Organization Council of the entire Archdiocese of Hartford. It was through these leadership roles in the Church that young Tom began to think about the Catholic priesthood. Thus it happened that in September of 1956, Tom Flower went off to St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield to "give it a try" and to see "what God has to say." After three years of study at St. Thomas, Tom was appointed to Christ the King Major Seminary at St. Bonaventure, NY. During his last year of studies he was appointed a Prefect of Discipline as a Deacon back at St. Thomas Seminary. On May 27, 1965, Thomas A. Flower was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Henry J. O'Brien D.D., and offered his first public Mass on Sunday, May 30, in his home church of St. Lawrence O'Toole in Hartford. After a short summer assignment in '65, at Sacred Heart in Southbury, Father Flower was assigned as an assistant at St. Christopher in East Hartford to study and work for two years in the Father Henry J. Murphy "school of hard knocks." This was followed by a seven year assignment as assistant pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Plainville. It was during these years that Father Flower was able to get back into his involvement in the CYO. Under his priestly guidance his parish group grew to over 300 young people. In 1968 Father was appointed to a six-year term as the Bristol Deanery CYO Director. In 1974 Father Flower applied and was appointed to the position as Catholic Chaplain at Yale-New Haven Hospital joining a team of two other priests – a position he remained in for 13 years. During these years he was additionally appointed to serve as the Coordinator of Catholic Chaplains for the Archdiocese of Hartford for a double term totaling six years. In 1987, Father realized the fact that his first love was as a parish priest and it was time to return to that beloved role. Thus he accepted the position as Assistant Pastor at St. Margaret's Church in Madison. In May of 1989 Father Flower was appointed the pastor at St. Bernard's Parish in Tariffville. He would often say that for him it was a "dream come true." Father joyfully served there for 21 years. Father Flower was very proud to be the chaplain of the Knights of Columbus Bishop Nilan Council of greater Simsbury for over 20 years. He also enjoyed his membership in the Elks Club for a quarter of a century. Besides his beloved parishioners, Father Flower leaves his special sister Janet F. Martin of Ludlow, MA, his nieces and nephews and their beautiful spouses; Bob Martin and his wife Brenda, Ken Martin and his wife Donna, Kevin Martin, Gary Martin and his wife Susan, Joan and her husband Steve Haney, Laurie and her husband Chris Smith, and 13 amazing great nieces and nephews and a great great niece and nephew, and family friend Ken Carrignant. He was predeceased by his favorite brother-in-law, Roger Martin. His family will receive friends TODAY, Sunday, July 18, from 4-7 p.m. at St. Bernard's Church, 7 Maple St., Tariffville followed by a Parish Mass at 7:30 p.m. "A Funeral Mass of the Resurrection of our Lord" will be held on Monday, July 19, at 10:30 a.m. with Most Reverend Henry J. Mansell Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Hartford, as the principal celebrant. Burial will be in Mount St. Benedict Cemetery, Cottage Grove Rd., Bloomfield. Carmon Funeral Homes in Granby and Windsor is assisting the family and St. Bernard's Parish with funeral arrangements. Memorial donations may be made to Rev. Thomas A. Flower Memorial Fund, care of St. Bernard Church, 7 Maple St., Tariffville, CT 06081. For online condolences please visit www.carmonfuneralhome.com.