Father Tom lives and ministers on Enders Island, where men and women from all walks of life come to experience renewal, healing and inspiration. In 1954, Alys Enders entrusted her arts and crafts mansion to the care of The Society of St. Edmund where hundreds of young men went on to enter the S.S.E. Novitiate on the island. In 2003, stewardship was transferred to St. Edmund’s Retreat under Father Tom’s care. He serves as President and CEO of the nonprofit operation that now focuses on spiritual renewal and addiction recovery. Father Tom attributes the success of St. Edmund’s Retreat to prayer. He calls on his group of “Prayer Warriors” when needed—“always has, and always will. They are a powerful group,” he said.
The mission of St. Edmund’s Retreat is to offer retreats in St. Michael’s Hall (The old Novitiate building), residential recovery opportunities and regular Alcoholic Anonymous meetings, spiritual development, and educational programs. Enders Island is also home to an art institute and Catholic psychotherapy offices.
“I tell you, that man is guided by the Holy Spirit,” Kate said of Father Tom. She met him while trying to get her longtime friend some help with addiction. His graciousness and generosity during the process captured her attention. “He was really something else that day I met him. I thought I was taking my friend to see a nice, sweet priest but what he had to say was just jaw dropping.” Kate jumped on board to help with fundraising efforts soon after. Her friend is celebrating 4 1/2 years of sobriety and volunteers regularly at Enders Island.
“We were called here. I believe that,” Kate said. “There is a beautiful, miraculous intervention that brings people to this place.”
Another success story comes from 32-year-old Danny. He has lived in the recovery residence for three years and is headed to Columbia University in the fall. “It’s patient perseverance that he’s modeling for us,” Danny said. “We often say around here that we are all playing checkers and he’s playing chess.”
Danny said Father Tom showed him how to trust people. “It took a long time, but he got through to me. He has showed me unconditional love. He has been instrumental in my growth as a person.”
Father Tom runs marathons, holds multiple doctorates, and studies law. “He takes a lot of initiative,” John said. “That is why this ministry succeeds. Not only are lives changed here but whole generations of families have been affected because of his dedication to the recovery residence program ministry here.”
John said he is inspired by Father Tom’s work as an Edmundite. “It is to reach beyond the boundaries of church parameters,” he said. “He will never compromise that work as an Edmundite priest. All of us are God’s children in his eyes. What I find beautiful is his constancy in that he is unapologetically going to remain a priest even as he remains my boss. This has been a gift for me. He comes from a place of humanity, not a place of authority.”
David Martins has met with the Edmundites on retreat a number of times. Now he works with the recovery community at Enders Island and is going through the process of Reconciliation and would like to pursue the life of a Brother within the community. It’s the Edmundite charism of “You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household” (Ephesians 2:19) that captured David’s heart. “What Father Tom does here embodies that,” David said. “Particularly to the recovery community. It’s the Edmundite charism that urges us to come home.”
Edmundites answer the call where they are needed most, David said. “Being a part of this Edmundite community is so inviting because they are all in places where they need to be. I am excited by that. The charism and spirit of Saint Edmund is the DNA of this place. It is a real legacy.”
Father Tom said Enders Island is home to a ministry of healing and hope. “We see the fruit of that every single day,” he said. “Whether there is an Edmundite on these grounds or not it will always be an Edmundite charism. We help people scale obstacles and find a personal relationship with God. We are all called to a life of spirituality and holiness. What’s here at Enders Island can’t be replicated. The grandeur of God is all around us and in the staff and retreatants. There is perseverance and respect here. Worthiness happens here.”
To read the full list of Father Tom’s accolades please visit: https://www.endersisland.com/fathertom
For more information about The Society of Saint Edmund, our Edmundites, or choosing your vocation please visit www.SSE.org or call Father Lino Oropeza at (802) 654-2344 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.