Brother Thomas Francis Hill, OFM Cap. passed on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 at the age of 83 at St. Paul Elder Home in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. He was born on December 23, 1939, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, to Ronald Charles Hill and Dolores Fitzpatrick.
Br. Tom’s call to service began in the 3rd grade. His mother died when he was 8, and he wanted to offer the same consolation that he had received. At the age of 18, he entered the novitiate for the Capuchin Franciscans. He professed his first vows in 1959.
While never sure where his vocation would lead him, Br. Tom became a strong minister to the family. He made solemn vows in 1962 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1966. In his first ministry, he accepted a position at Brady High School in West St. Paul, MN. He then moved to DeLaSalle High School, serving as a teacher and chaplain to the Brothers. He also became a swimming coach and would later certify Capuchin friars as lifeguards because of his training.
It was during this time that Br. Tom became a part of the Marriage Encounter movement, first at the local level in Minnesota, then at the national level from 1975 to 1979. He continued to work in Catholic education as a campus minister at St. Catherine College in St. Paul, MN.
He shared this joy and wisdom with the Capuchin friars to begin Cap Encounter in Mt. Calvary, WI: a similar type of retreat that was intended to assist families. In 1981, the direction of his vocation changed and Br. Tom moved to Marathon, WI to be a part of the retreat center, bringing his concern for families to a retreat setting. Two years later, he would be part of an initiative to expand the Capuchin Order to North Dakota. He was appointed pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Fargo in 1983.
While he remained at St. Anthony’s for only 3 years, he it was the beginning of his love of parish ministry. In 1986 he filled in for a Capuchin at Mary Queen of World in Newfoundland, Canada. He returned to the US the following year and was appointed pastor of St. Patrick’s in St. Paul, MN. With a mild-mannered disposition, he grew to love parish ministry. In 1997, he was appointed the pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Rosemount, MN. During his time, he helped the parish community to grow in number and in space. Realizing the need for more space, he worked with the parish community as they raised funds and built a new worship center and school. Br. Tom guided the parish in order to grow its community, he accompanied the people during the difficult transition of moving from one worship space to another, and he sought the input and consensus of others. Following the example of St. Francis to “Rebuild my Church,” Fr. Tom used his compassion, his leadership, and his care to enrich the lives of his parish family.
In 2011, Br. Tom retired from ministry and moved to St. Fidelis Friary in Appleton, WI. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and was admitted to the memory care unit at St. Paul Elder Home in Kaukauna, WI. In his ministry, Br. Tom was able to connect with many people in his time of ministry, and he will be fondly remembered.
He is preceded in death by his parents Ronald Charles Hill and Dolores M. Fitzpatrick. He is survived by his brother Ron (Phyllis) Hill, 6 nieces and nephews: William (Sharon) Hill, Suzanne (Robert) Droleskey, Judith (Rodney) Troester, James (Kathy) Hill, Robert (Julie) Hill, Mary (Trevor) Craddock, as well as his many Capuchin brothers with whom he lived, prayed, and ministered for over 60 years.
The funeral liturgy for Br. Tom will be held at 1:00 PM on Thursday, March 2, 2023 at Holy Cross Church, located at 308 Church Street in Mount Calvary, WI. Visitation will begin at the church at 12:00 PM and continue until the time of the liturgy.