Alumni

Tom O'Neill Tributes

The following are tributes to Father Thomas O'Neill, memories of his life and reactions to his death.
 

I remember father Tom for his great sense of humor. He was an AMAZING person and always found the good im people. He taught a lot of my classes and I made sure to make it to each one! Father Tom always seemed to have a gentle heart, but a large one at that. He was by far the best part of my Viterbo experiece. I wanted him to be the priest in my wedding. He will be remember for his ability to make anyone smile and his kind heart and soul. RIP. You will be missed by all.

 Caroline Hamilton '05
Former Student


I attended Viterbo College, University now, and Fr. Tom was one of the first people I met at the college. We shared the bond of being both from Iowa orginally. A great man, great teacher and someone that will be deeply missed around campus. It's a sad day for all Viterbo alumni that got to know this GREAT man. Rest in Peace Fr. Tom, Rest in Peace. Your work here is done.

 Chad Helle '00
Former Student


 

Father Tom was the first person I met on the Viterbo campus. I was all turned around on the "huge" campus trying to find the admissions office when Father Tom came up to me and asked me what I was looking for. I told him I was here for a visit and trying to find the admissions office. Instead of just pointing me in the right direction he proceeded to take me there. From that day forward every time Father Tom saw me he said hello, even if I was on one side of the courtyard and he was on the other. I will miss him so much.

 

 Michael Dreger Jr. '08
Former Student



I will always treasure the memories of Fr. Tom's inspiring Sunday homilies. And at each FSPA funeral, his homily was special because he talked as if he knew each Sister as a personal friend. Among his many gifts, his peaching is one I'll miss a lot.

 Mary Ann Gschwind '65
FSPA


 

Father Tom was an example of Catholic leadership and dedication to his community. I feel privileged to have sat in his classroom and listened to his sermons in the past eight years. All my thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family as we thrive on his memory and legacy at Viterbo University.

 

 Jennifer TeBeest '05
Former Student


 

Father Tom was a great person who will be missed. He has been a family friend since my stepfather was in college at Creighton University. He was a tremendous man who left people wondering how they could make a difference in people's lives just as he had made in ours. He married my husband and I three years ago and baptised my daughter earlier this year. I'm so happy to be able to cherish those memories. RIP...

 

 Nicole Schabow '05
Former student
Friend of the family


 

As a former basketball player at Viterbo, I foundly remember Father Tom announcing our games and supporting us as student-athletes. Father Tom has routinely been at the announcers table to greet the V-Hawk basketball alumni at our annual alumni game with a smile and a friendly glad to see you back. Father Tom left a lasting impression on Viterbo University and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and the Viterbo community.

 

 Becky Arndt '04
Former Student


 

Fr. Tom had only been at Viterbo 3 years before I met him. There were many times, and many instances, where I needed help and he was ready and willing. I remember when he went on the choir trip and left me in charge of the chapel and to facilitate a wedding during that time. I also remember when he left me in charge of an SGA trip to Chicago to watch the Men's soccer team in the playoffs. I always wondered what he saw in me that would lead him to believe I was worthy of such trust. But I know better than to question his astute ability to see the best in all of us. I will miss him greatly.

 

 Juan Jimenez '01, '06
Former Student


 

Truly a great man who left a lasting presence with all he met. Father Tom will truly be missed but the impact he has made on friends, students, and colleagues over the years undoubtedly continues to spread around the globe.

 

 Jason VL '02
Former Student


 

Fr. Tom O'Neill was a valued campus ministry colleague. He was wise, funny, intelligent, compassionate and one of the easiest people with whom to share a meal. Like the Jesus he knew and loved, Tom's presence--at meals in particular--always brought more than sustenance, it brought life and that to the full.

 

 Fr. George R. Szews
Pastor of The Newman Parish, Eau Claire
Colleague


 

Dear Fr. Tom,
How's it going up there? I know you just moved in, but just so you know, your old roommates miss you. I don't know if you know how hard it is for people like us to find a priest they can respect and admire, one that cuts through the crap and tells it like it is. One that can give a mass in 20 minutes. (Now I'm one that can sit in a church for 2 hours without complaint, but 20 minutes is just impressive). So we'll be lost for a while without our shepherd, but I think using the insight you gave us, I think we'll survive. Heck, we have to anyway, and I can imagine you getting upset if we didn't. Do you know that you are responsible for the salvation of so many people? I could never have told you this in person. You would have downplayed it. And probably rightly so, I'm a little dramatic at times. But I looked forward to your emails correcting my grammar, your annual birthday card, and your weekly Homily. You helped me understand life, and its purpose. I can't thank you enough for that. So while I'm sad to see you go. I'm glad you're in a better place. Say Hi to Earl, and God Bless you.

 

 Emily Dawson '02
Former Student
Colleague


 

When my fiance was sick and hospitalized I was unable to attend my classes. Someone had told me when I transfered to Viterbo that if I ever needed anything I could go to Fr. Tom. I emailed him my problem and in about 10 minutes he emailed me back saying he would let all of my professors know the situation and he and the ladies would pray for us. I will never forget that. It didn't matter to him that we aren't Catholic or that he didn't know me at the time, or that my fiance doesn't go to Viterbo. We mattered to him and he cared about us. I will never forget him for that.

 

 Beth Semke, senior
Former Student


 

Father Tom was outstanding person & will be missed by so many. We loved to hear him announce the basketball games, he did such a great job. Our thoughts & prayers are with the O'Neill family. God Bless

 

 Jim & Debbie Buschman Family
Scott Buschman '10


 

I will remember Fr. Tom for his compassion, his willingness to help, his ability to make you laugh and his ability to listen. It is truly a sad day but a day to also remember what a wonderful friend, colleague and man Fr. Tom was. Rest in peace!

 

 Eric Schmidt
Colleague


 

Fr. Tom could also seem hard or off putting at times, but once, long ago, when I wasn't being fair to myself, he was the first to apply compassion and a generosity of profound understanding that I needed in that moment. He also co-officiated our wedding 10 years ago. He was a no nonsense kind of guy who offered a rare gift of highly efficient, succinct, powerful homilies as no other person ever has. He will be missed.

 

Chandra Sherin '96
Former Student


 

Like many students, Father Tom was one of the first staff members I met as I began my time at Viterbo. I was always amazed that he went out of his way to connect with every student, even if it was just a hello in passing. A gifted priest, he always knew just how to talk to us, the college students, during his homilies. He made everyone feel welcome and had a both profound and humorous take on the scriptures and how they apply to our lives. I think he touched us all with his patience, kindness, and respect for human life. Father Tom, you were a bright light in this world, and I am so thankful to have known you! You will be greatly missed!

 

 Nicole Novak '08
Former Student


 

Fr. Tom was a balancing force in my life during a period in which I personally made effort to sabotage my future. Recognizing that I would not respond to traditional efforts to intervene in my downward spiral, Fr. Tom became a friend and inserted himself into my world so that he could eventually pull me back into the one I share with you all today. I owe my success, my family, and my life to his friendship and mentorship.

 

 Ryan Raymond '98
Former Student


 

I am so sad to hear of this news, but glad to know that Fr. Tom has returned to his home with God and is now at peace. Fr. Tom was a great friend and teacher during my college days, and we have kept up correspondence over the years. The ethics class I took with Fr. Tom was one of my most memorable classes at Viterbo. This is truly a great loss for the Viterbo community, but those of us who knew him were very lucky to have him in our lives.

 

 Stephanie Urban '04
Former Student


 

Father Tom was a great man and was monumental in my being an actively involved Catholic like I am today. He will be sorely missed.

 

 Scott Domine '01
Former Student


 

Father Tom, as far as a homily was concerned you always kept it short and sweet...you always were nice when I had to serve food in the cafeteria...and equally as pleasant sitting with the other "church nerds" in the ministry dept...and when you wanted me to read at church it was so hard to hide and avoid you. Thanks for the time you spent with us all.

 

 Liz Koschoreck '06
Former Student


 

Father Tom will truly be missed!

 

 Mike
Former Student


 

As a child, I was a member of the Viterbo community when Fr. Tom arrived at Viterbo due to my parents being alumni and active members of the parish. He was the first to greet me when I chose to begin my higher learning at Viterbo in the fall of 2003. I took a leave of absence for two years and came back in 2007. Once again he was the first to greet me and reassure me (in his own sarcastic way) that although I went through a low period in my life, I will surely make up for it. He had a way of presenting his messages, both in mass and personal conversation, in a clear and concise manner allowing for an universal connection with others. His dedication to the common good will have an everlasting affect on the Viterbo community as well as the La Crosse community at large.

 

 Ian Libert '09
Former Student


 

Thank you, Fr. T., for always being there/here for us and for the students at Viterbo. I shall miss your wonderful, to-the-point homilies, your quips along the way, and your Irish wit. You have touched many of us in a very special way. I still remember a line from a homily you had many years ago (when I was visitng St. Rose from Zimbabwe and struggling with not feeling prepared to do missionary work). "God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called." Thanks for those words, Tom. They have served me well, especially in my many, varied roles at Viterbo. You have truly been an inspirational friend and mentor. Enjoy the "peace and all good" of God firsthand. Sr. G.

 

 Sr. Georgia Christensen
FSPA
Colleague


 

What a great loss with the passing of Father Tom. I was lucky to be able to gain his friendship and companionship. What a truly remarkable human being. Some people you meet in life are simply not replaceable, and Father Tom is one of those.

 

 John Desmond
Colleague


 

Father Tom was relentlessly selfless, passionately optimistic, and eternally Loving. His dedication to Christ was exemplified in his everyday life, which I experienced on so many levels. Whether sneaking me into a math class that I needed for graduation, consoling me after a disappointing baseball game, or having an hour discussion concerning the development of my faith, he was always there. I will never forget a comment from Father Tom during one of those conversations: "God created me for a purpose, and God sustains me for that purpose." You may no longer be with us, but God is sustaining you through your Love. Thank you for everything; you will forever be remembered.

 

Austin '07
Former Student


 Through the ups and down Father Tom has been there for me through the four great years at Viterbo. I will never forget what he has done for me, as well as for Viterbo University. Thank you Father Tom for guiding me to do who I am today!

 Ryan Fohrman '08
Former Student
Colleague


Father Tom baptized our second son. He was also an avid supporter of athletics at Viterbo. He was always there to greet us after our soccer matches win or lose. What a tremendous loss!

 Eric Zimmerman '99
Former Student


I remember sitting in Fr. Tom's office, requesting a leave of absence from the spring 2008 semester due to my father's own battle with cancer. I had not talked with Fr. Tom previously, but we talked like we had known each other our entire lives. I told him that I wanted to take the time to be with my father, who was given 6 months to live. My father passed away just seven weeks later. After that, Fr. Tom and I became close friends, and he took me out to dinner to talk about life, not death. When I heard of his initial cancer diagnosis, I e-mailed him, telling him that it was my turn to treat him to dinner. He, of course, refused and instead took me out to dinner for my 21st birthday. I wish that I would have been able to say goodbye to such a dear friend, but the rapidity with which cancer works conforms to no one's schedule. I went into my first meeting with Fr. Tom, expecting to fill out some paperwork with a priest, but I left with an enduring friendship. Fr. Tom, please say hello to my father. You both fought a valiant fight.

 Ryan Nelson '10
Former Student


Fr. Tom helped me with my confirmation. He also assisted my husband and I with finding a parish once we relocated after graduation! Thank you Fr. Tom for everything you have done and for the tremendous impact you have made and continue to make in my life!

 Katie Drury '08
Former Student


Father Tom was one of the persons who gave me spiritual guidance during my years at Viterbo. As an international student it was sometimes hard to cope. His sermons and encourage words were my pillow of hope, may his soul rest in peace...

 Shawn Ashman '01 - Jamaica
Former Student


Father Tom was always right there with warm greetings, fun, and support for anyone who needed it. I remember the sympathy he provided when he found out my Grandma and then my Grandpa passed away while I attended Viterbo. I hadn't even told anyone at school about my Grandpa. Father Tom was always on top of life changing events in students' lives and demonstrated Christian presence with the help and support he gave.

 Jess Allen '01
Former Student


Fr. Tom was a great friend and mentor. I would not have been the person I am today. Thanks for everything!

 Jenny Tilleman '98
Former Student


I, too, will miss the short and to the point homilies that Tom gave each Sunday. But what I will miss most of all was the homily for the funeral Mass of each of our Sisters. He always found a unique way to apply the Scripture readings to the Sister's life. He was truly a gifted man, priest, chaplain. Enjoy the fruit of your labors, Fr. Tom.

 Sister Ronalda Hophan '68
FSPA


Father Tom was the V-Hawks softball program's biggest fan! Rain or shine, windy conditions and snow...yes - snow... Father Tom was there with the microphone in hand, announcing our games at the ball field. He took the time to get to know each student-athlete, and would many times drop some fun trivia about the next V-Hawk up to bat. He was a constant presence in the lives of the athletes, a positive and fun-loving sports fan... and a true blessing from God. I will always remember and appreciate the love and support he showed me personally, a green on the vine, young and determined coach. Thanks Father Tom for everything!

 Jaimi Stejskal
Colleague


Going into my freshman year at Viterbo, I was a little nervous when I found out a Catholic priest would be teaching my Scriptures class. When I met Father Tom though, I was excited for the rest of the semester. He was so friendly and inviting, I ended up signing up for another one of his classes that semester when my roommate told me she was taking a philosophy class with him. He was easy to talk to and such a nice guy, my roommate and I kept in touch our remaining years at Viterbo, bringing him cookies every year for Christmas. In passing on campus, he would always say hi and greet us by name, which always amazed me that he remembered! It was an honor to have known Father Tom, and he will be greatly missed!

 Anna '09
Former Student


As a former student of Viterbo University, I attended many of his special services, and he was the Father that made you feel comfortable and welcomed in the Viterbo community. Without him life will not be the same on campus. My heart goes out to all of his family and friends and all that knew him. My Deepest Sympathies.

 Amy Urch-Lange '07
Former Student


F. Tom and I both started at Viterbo in 1994. Having just completed our 15th year together, I've always felt like we were classmates. My respect for him as a colleague and trust in him as a friend will always be cherished. His humor and wit always put a smile on my face. His generosity of his time and talents to our athletics programs and student-athletes will never be forgotten. You'll now be the "Voice of the V-Hawks" in Heaven. Rest in peace, F. Tom.

 Barry Fried
Colleague


Fr. Tom and I first met as colleagues at the "other" University setting in La Crosse. He was an interim priest who jumped in when there was a need and immediately was a hit with the students. Short sermons, humor, a passion for helping young people and a love of sports were a mix of attributes that served him well and those lucky enough to be in his world. We are cheering you on now in celebration of your life, as you have cheered for all of us. Peace.

 Dorothy Lenard
Colleague


We have had the great fortune to Have Fr Tom be a part of our son Neal's life. Neal had the opportunity to do work-study with Fr Tom and be a part of masses with Fr Tom. Neal has also had the privilege of having Fr Tom be a part of his basketball experience at Viterbo. Neal has always said wonderful things about his time with Fr Tom. I am sure Neal will carry his experiences with Fr Tom with him for life. We will miss his announcing at basketball games.

 Wayne and Cindy Zygarlicke
Neal Zygarlicke '11
Former Student


I was a student and baseball player at Viterbo and so Father Tom was one of the first people of authority that I got to know and respect. Father was usually smiling as he walked through the halls saying hi to students and staff along the way. I swear Father knew everyone by their fist name or nickname. After my first couple years I had learned, like most students, that Father Tom was the person to go to when you were having a problem. I always felt comfortable telling him personal things because he made every problem seem like it had an easy fix. I sometimes felt bad for him because there were so many students that abandoned their assigned councilors and used Father Tom. I know I did. There was one time in particular that I remember him really saving my tush. - I had an early math final in my second-to-the-last semester and I slept in past the entire session. I wasn't sure what I would do because I knew that the professor left for break right after the final. So during crisis I did what I normally did and went to Father Tom's office. I explained to him my problem as he calmly listened and when I was finished , nearly in tears, he reached for his facilty contact book and had the professor on the phone in minutes. The professor was willing to schedule a test for me in the Learning Center, I think only because Father was near by:-) I didn't do very well on the test but I scored better than a zero; thanks to Father Tom. This story is only one of many. I can honestly say that I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for Father Tom.

 Rob Tschimperle '08
Former Student


Father Tom was a true pillar of the Viterbo community - a humble role model who always wore a smile. He will certainly be missed but never forgotten.

 Tricia '01
Former Student


From the first time you met Father Tom, he made you feel like you knew him forever. His kindness along with a great sense of humor made it fun to visit with him even, if it was briefly at halftime. It's no wonder my sons are so fond of him. Even though it was too short, it was an honor to know him.

 The Ambrose Family


Fr. Tom was a true blessing and a pleasure to be around.He will be missed greatly. May God bless him and his family. We will keep you in our prayers.

 Rubie Morris '06
Former Student


Thank you for your "All Are Welcome" philosophy and your short, funny and always practical sermons each Sunday. I will truly miss the inspiration you offered every Sunday. I am a better person having known you.

 Linda Wissing


I don't even know where to begin with this....To all that new Fr. Tom, it was no secret that he was definitely an Irishman; he was stubborn, compassionate, loyal, and a friend. I hold many memories in my heart of Fr. Tom, but two of my favorites were the time he suprised our family by traveling to my grandparents hometown to say mass at my grandpa's funeral and the other was when he married my husband and I - even when the first thing he said to me at the ceremony was telling me to spit out my gum! He told me that my chewing gum would not look good in the pictures as he put his hand in front of my mouth directing me to place my gum in his hand in front of all our guests. This was Fr. Tom. :) He was a remarkable man who did so much for so many people. I am so sad at the thought of his passing and so sad that I didn't get to see him just one more time, but I will forever remember him and celebrate his life never forgetting the valuable things he taught me. He will certainly be missed... peace and all good Fr. Tom. "May the road rise to meet you; may the wind be always at your back; may the sun shine warm upon your face; may the rains fall soft upon your fields; and until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand."

 Linsie (Sanger) Clements '08
Former Student


I was only at Viterbo for one semester, and Fr. Tom was one of the first people I met. He made a scared little freshman feel so welcomed and accepted. Though he's not around anymore and we will miss him greatly, he's gone home to Jesus and we should be happy for him.

 Former Student


I am saddened to hear of Fr. Tom's passing, but rejoice in the fact that he is with his heavenly Father! I was at Viterbo for only a short time, but I remember Fr. Tom as being a caring, understanding, and dedicated individual who loved the students, loved being part of the Viterbo family, and loved life. He always brightened the room when he entered and always had a kind word or exuberant greeting! He shall be greatly missed, but he has left a tremendous legacy of life & service to the Viterbo community.

 Rae Baer '97
Former Student


Father Tom was my advisor but he was so much more than that. He gave me a second chance to come back to Viterbo and he helped me grow so much as a person. His office was always open to go in and talk about anything. I can remember many times sitting there talking to him about shows, or family, or Ireland. He helped me become the man I am today and for that I am forever grateful to him. I know he is in heaven watching over us now and praying for us and he will be missed. Thank you Father Tom for everything.

 Andrew Manson '09
Former Student


I went to Italy with Fr. Tom in March of 2008. While overseas, I got sick, but Fr. Tom was one of the adults that made sure I drank gatorade and got electrolites. I really appreciate it now more looking back, that Fr. Tom made sure I was taken care of. He was such a good man and a fabulous speaker and I'm going to miss his sermons. I can't say that I'm sad though, because now he's being taken care of by our almighty Father and I'm just glad he is no longer struggling with the difficult illness of cancer. Fr. Tom will be missed and no one will ever come close to replacing him as the best priest that Viterbo has had. Love going out to those hurting more from this loss.

 Amanda Hennessy '11
Former Student


Fr. Tom - I can still remember my first day at Viterbo. I was so scared and worried about starting that chapter of my life. Thank you for taking the time to sit down and talk with me on that first day and so many other occasions. My life was changed for the better because of having known and worked with you. Rest in peace.

 Karen DuCharme '03
Former Student


Despite a Jesuit background, Fr. Tom was truely a Franciscan. I still remember the Saturday morning that I met him in my office and he asked if it were true that Viterbo was searching for a new campus minister. I knew instinctively that he would fill the position better ministerially than any of the applicants I was reviewing. He came with all of the passion, compassion, wit and hospitality for which he was known for 15 years. He truly has been a gift and a blessing to Viterbo students, faculty and staff. While he will be sadly missed, his spirit will be with those at Viterbo in all their good and compassionate deeds. He is now with the Lord for whom he dedicated his priestly life. Thanks, Tom, for ministering to us day after day. Thanks for celebrating the Eucharist in our lives. May your soul now rest in the Lord.

 Bill Medland
Former Viterbo University President
Colleague


Fr. Tom, your 'presence' in my life has been such a blessing. I wondered sometimes if you were talking directly to me in your homilies...I always wondered how you could possibly know what was going on in my life and tellling me how to fix it with your down to earth-no nonsense homilies. During one mass in particular I was feeling kind of down, and looking for a 'sign' that God still cared for me. It was that day, for the first time ever, you came up to me in the crowd of people in the church and asked me to do the readings....You were God's answer to me that day...yes, he does care. Viterbo was lucky to have you these past 15 years, your legacy will forever live in the walls of Viterbo. The heart and soul of Viterbo is hurting now that we have lost you, as we are still struggling with the loss of Earl, but thank you for teaching us all that we must persevere during our struggles and never give up until we are happy, because you once told me Fr Tom...that "God wants you to be happy."...I miss you already.

 Pam
Colleague


Father Tom was an instructor, an advisor, and more imorptantly, he was my friend....He helped me in so many ways to become the person I am today and if it wasn't for his guidance and direction, I am certain that I wouldn't be where I am today, prepared and awaiting graduation with the completion of a few courses. Thank you so much for your contribution to this university, to many students, and for the impact that you have made on my life as a student and as a person. You will always be rememberd and missed... with love,

 Hunter Scott '10
Friend of the family


I didn't know Fr. Tom personally that well but during my sophomore year at Viterbo my roommates and I went to him for help with one of our other roommates because she was going through a rough time in her life. I will never forget when he came into our apartment in Treacy at about 9 o'clock at night and just sat and chilled in our living room with us talking and poking fun at each and every one of us. It is the one night that I vividly remember from that year. He turned a not-so-good-situation into something a little better for an hour. He will be missed by everyone.

 Alyssa '10
Former Student


I got to know Fr. Tom well throughout my years here at Viterbo. I helped out a lot during Mass whether he would literally give me the book as i walked into church to read or would help out with communion. He would occasionally sit with me at lunch and we would discuss school, life, and my troubles. We always made each other laugh! He'd pick on me and I'd pick on him. There was one time in particular where it was finals week this past year and I was in church. He was in great spirits and asked all the students who were graduating to stand up. (The church was packed.) However, I was not graduating with the '09 graduates (which was my graduating class). Fr. Tom loudly said Abby-aren't you graduating yet? In front of the whole congregation! I said sorry, I am not. "You've been here as long as I have" he said, "We'll get to you sooner or later." Not only was Fr. Tom and I laughing-but the congregation as well. I will really miss him, he was a great person and mentor.

 Abby '10
Former Student


I had Father O'Neill for a Freshman theology class at Creighton. I knew his family but not him. The theology class was a historical view of the Gospels. It initially shattered all that I had learned previously and I thought what kind of priest is this guy? I still have my notes from that class because it created the indestructible foundation for my faith today. God Bless Father Tom and the O'Neill family. His dedication and wit will be missed.

Patricia Sciortino
Former Student
Friend of the family


On the first day of Freshman Orientation we were in the Main Theatre, and Fr. Tom asked all of us who thought they traveled the furthest distance to go to school at Viterbo. I raised my hand and said I was from New Orleans. He answered back quickly and smartly, "I thought you all were still underwater." When I jokingly told him I canoed here, we all shared a good laugh. I then realized Fr. Tom and I had the same sense of humor!

Bryce
Sophomore


Before I even became a member of the Viterbo community, Fr. Tom helped my husband (then fiance) and I prepare critical documentation to be able to be married in Switzerland. He made a potentially complicated step quite quick and simple. We'll never forget that wonderful memory. Thank you, Fr. Tom!

 Anita Wood
Colleague


I have had the pleasure of knowing Fr. Tom. He has done so much for the community, Viterbo University, and me. Let his accomplishments be known, for he will never be forgotten. My prayers go out to his friends and family. RIP FT.

 Ryan Ambrose
Former Student


I'm only 15 years old and I feel like I've know Fr. Tom forever. My nickname that he gave me was "Sparkles" because I always seemed to be wearing something shiny when I came to church. I admire Fr. Tom so much, with all his bravery, passion, and compassion for others. I miss you Fr. Tom and I'm thankful that you were a part of my life.

 Anna
LaCrescent High '12


Father Tom you will be missed dearly. You will always be in my thoughts and the type of individual that was always looking out for my best interest as opposed to yours. Thank you for helping me be the person I am today.

 Scott Buschman
Senior
Former Student


I remember Father Tom as a wonderful educator who has and forever will be a wonderful influence in my life. I feel truly blessed to have known him.

 Shanda Nedland Harrington '03
Former Student


Gratefulness to God and all Life for the opportunities to share with Fr. Tom. In a similar way, thoughts of good luck and laughter to Fr. Tom, on his new adventures.

 Jaime Chavolla "Turtle" '02
Former Student


It wasn't until my second year at Viterbo that I even spoke to Father Tom directly. I had known him from basketball, where he announced each of our games, but I had never taken the time to really get to know him. During the spring of my sophomore year, Father Tom accompanied a group of Honors students to Washington, D.C. where he proceeded to share with us knowledge and experiences of the city from his time living there. The most memorable part of that trip was when he showed us around the Cathedral of St. Matthew's, where President Kennedy's funeral was held. Father Tom's passion and interest really came out in those moments. I also remember having a good conversation with him about his trip to Alaska years ago. Having grown up there, I was glad to have someone to chat with about my home. If I remember correctly, he also managed to sneak in a few sarcastic jokes to this conversation. But that's Father Tom. Missing you already!

 Kyle Jennings '11
Former Student


My husband and I have been members of the San Damiano prayer community for 13 years. Fr. Tom's ministry was a God Send for us as we searched for a truly Christian community in which to grow and deepen our faith. What made Fr. Tom so special in his service was his philosophy he shared with me one day, "I do what I can on earth and let God take care of the rest". You have run the race, fought the good fight, rest in peace, Fr. Tom, and thanks for everything. We miss you.

 Dolly Sandleback


Father Tom was a remarkable person that had and will continue to have a significant impact on the Viterbo community. It was truly a privilege to have him in class and I will never forget all the work and extensive hours he put into planning an incredible pilgrimage last spring. He will be greatly missed, God Bless.

 Sam Clements '10
Former Student


Fr. Tom had my brother's funeral service in Feb '09. I had known him briefly through a mutual friend. When I called him to inquire about his services, his respect for my family who he never meet was overwhelming. His compassion was none for words. I explained that my brother was not an active member of the church and to that Fr. Tom jumped in with more enthusiasm. He was truely a breath of fresh air. God took you way before your time. Be at PEACE Fr. Tom. You will never be forgotten.

 Jennie SchmidtSanders '70
Former Student


Father Tom was the advisor for student government for the few years I served at Viterbo. He was always there to guide us in our decisions and support our efforts. His office door was always open and it was so easy to talk to him. After I graduated and was engaged, I wanted him to perform our wedding at the San Damiano Chapel. It was wonderful to have his guidance and blessing again in my life on such an important day. I'll miss him.

 Julie (Rubenzer) Anderson '98, '09
Former Student


One of my favorite memories is when Father Tom came to the nursing home to say Holy Mass and support Sister Grace Beznos,FSPA at her time of illness and how kind and uplifting it was as other residents and staff gathered around her bed to give her that special support and graces to suffer with the Trinity. May he receive his eternal reward for sharing his great love of God with others.

 Delores du Charme '85
FSPA


It strikes me that there really is an alarmingly small number of truly good mentors (defined as a wise and trusted counselor or teacher). Rarer still are mentors like Father Tom who exhibit such a high level of compassion, camaradarie and consistency of character. We've lost one of the "Good Guys". Pax et bonum Father Tom.

 Sheldon Wagner
Colleague


The first time I ever travelled by airplane was in November of 2001, just weeks after the horror of September 11th. I was to fly alone to Denver, Colorado where I would meet up with my sister's family and venture on to Hawaii. I was excited about the trip, but as it approached I became nervous, too. The nightly news was filled with scary images of heavily armed military in our nation's airports even as details about the 9/11 terrorists emerged. Constantly changing rules about what was and was not allowed on planes had me scrambling to reassess and repack. Stories of frustrated travelers pulled from planes by overworked security guards after making ill advised comments had me vowing to stay silent for the entire trip. Finally, the morning of my flight arrived. I hadn't slept much the night before and was awake long before sunrise. I checked my luggage one last time and sat down to wait for my ride to the airport. A movement at my kitchen window triggered the motion sensor light over my back door, startling me. I never told Tom I was nervous about my trip, yet there he stood at 4:30 on that chilly morning, ready to say a blessing for my trip and give me a hug. Before he left he told me, "Don't be scared. You're going to have an amazing adventure." And I did. My friend Tom, world traveler, has embarked on his most amazing adventure ever.

 Susie


He was a dear teacher to me.. I really miss his joy, knowledge, and fun. He promised me to come to Turkey sometime, and I was going to be his tourguide.. I hope he rests in peace.. He will be missed terribly..

 Begum Gunceler '08
Former Student


I will remember Father Tom as a great teacher and mentor. He was an invaluable member of the Viterbo community. I looked forward to seeing Father Tom at mass and he was never too busy to offer a friendly smile and hello. Father Tom facilitated my confirmation, our wedding preparation and in October 2002, he married me and my husband. Rest in peace, Father Tom.

 Hillary Schellinger '01
Former Student


Father Tom was an absolutely wonderful, kind and caring man. He was really truly there for me in any time of need with unconditional support and care. The world lost a wonderful man.

 Donna
Former Student


Fr. Tom was a role model of what it means to be Franciscan. As a confidant, mentor and friend, he was always there for me and my wife and for my children when they attended Viterbo. One of the greatest honors I ever received was when he asked me to serve as chaplain for the volleyball team, because I knew he believed in me. My wife and I felt the same when he asked us to represent Viterbo in the Diocesan Marriage Prep program. We will remember Tom as the servant leader who kept us grounded, enhanced our faithfullness, and constantly tickled our funny bones. If the value of a man's life rests on the impact he has had on those he knew, Tom's journey to God was a true gift of Goodness to us all.

 Jan Janiszewski
Colleague


F. Tom, you were a great gift to Viterbo and the FSPA. We forgave you your Jesuit ways and rejoiced at your Franciscan conversion. Thanks for the effort at Assisi Pilgrimages with the students, for the trips to NYC plays, for the European travels, but most of all for the home base ministry that was personal and sacred. You were a wounded healer among wounded healers. God welcome and reward you. You are missed.

 Sr. Celesta Day
FSPA


Father Tom had an amazing gift of wisdom that is so rare. During our 15 years as colleagues he became an increasingly influential person to me professionally and personally. His example has helped me become a better mentor for our student-athletes, with still a long way to go. Now, instead of walking over to his office for advice, I'll just have to try to figure out what he would say and have faith that he is guiding me from above. Our family looked forward to his homilies each Sunday and I am so thankful that he was happy to confirm me into the Church only recently even though his health was failing him. God Bless Father Tom, there is already a void on our campus.

 Bobbi Vandenberg
Colleague


My condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and the students whose lives he touched. In my years at Viterbo I had the opportunity to have several brief conversations with Father Tom. Sometimes they occurred if we were walking the same route on campus, sometimes it happened to be at a baseball, soccer, or basketball game, and sometimes he might possibly be caught in his office. Regardless, the moments with Father Tom were precious. He didn't need to impart some great wisdom, though he often did; and he didn't need to answer all your questions, though he often could; it was just being with him that made those interactions memorable. Father Tom will be greatly missed.

 Nicole (Brill) Gilbertson '02  
Former Student


May you rest in peace and though your work on earth is done the memories and your contribution to the Viterbo Community will live on...

 Gustavo E. Matus
Former Student


 

He helped us prep and be ready to be married. He performed the ceremony as well. I will never forget all things he did for us to make sure our service ran smoothly. He will always be in my heart and he will never be forgotten.

 

 Melissa Barton
Former Student


 

I was forwarded the sad news about Fr. Tom (or FT as I called him after his nicknaming me ST). I knew he was ill, of course, but this was so very fast. I think he preferred it that way although he expected a bit more time, but it's hard for those of us who are left. We were good buds, FT and I, and we led a number of those New York Theatre trips from Viterbo. He was tough stuff and so funny, I really loved him. Plus we were on Graduation Committee together and used to roll our eyes at each other as some of the conversations went on and on and on ad nauseum. We just wanted to get the graduation "show" on. I even put him in a real show, "No, No, Nanette," in a teeny-weeny part with just one short line. But I made him exit with a "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" step. He was soooo funny...rehearsed that, and rehearsed that, and was just awful but the audience knew him and got a big chuckle out of that moment. I'll remember it always and him. What a pistol he was and what a fine priest too, at least as I observed him from my non-Catholic seat. Now, no more Earl and no more Tom, but always in our memories.

 

 Susan Rush
Ever so retired!!


On June 27, 2009 my fiance Sara E. Boggs '94 (a Viterbo Alumni) and I, contracted matrimony at the San Damiano Chappel. Father O'Neil not only presided the ceremony, but he guided and counseled us throughout the whole process; a process that was lenghly because I was previously married and remarrying required a specific protocol. We, and everyone involved will always be gratefull to Father O' Neil, and blessed with the memory that he was an integral part of our lives at a moment when we needed him the most. As hard as it is to internalize the fact that we have lost a phenomenal and exceptional person, it is also a great consolation to know that he touched so many lives, and particularly ours in a very positive way. His smile has become a permanent part of my memory; a memory that I will always cherish, and his blesing will be upon Sara and I until death due us apart. In a place where the rain is pleasant, the breeze is fresh, the waters are pure and crystalline, and beauty, peace and joy are eternal, we look forward to seeing you again. A-Dios Father Tom.

 Luis Gomez '96 (UW-La Crosse)


 

One of the biggest reasons I took a position at Viterbo University and moved to La Crosse was because of the heartfelt hospitality that I was shown by Father Tom O'Neill. He and Earl Madary (may he also rest in peace) went out of their way to make me feel welcome. Father Tom showed me around the city, had my family over for dinner, introduced me to people, helped me look for housing, and even put out the call to help furnish my apartment. And what is so amazing is that I am not very religious. This did not seem to matter to Tom. I remember debating the issue of personal immortality with him on at least one occasion and the discussion left me invigorated- not because we agreed, because we didn't, but because two people of such different persuasions could have productive conversations on such topics and remain friends. I have always thought that you can best tell someone's integrity not so much from what they believe, but how they react and treat those with whom they disagree. In a world beset by demagogues and ideologues of all stripes, Father Tom stood out like a beacon of sanity, of patience, and of hope. There is so much for all of us to continue to learn from this man of God, who managed to unite tenacity with his own brand of humility, a razor sharp intellect with an even sharper wit. In all my encounters with Tom over the last five years he showed me nothing but respect and did nothing but encourage me in my own philosophical interests. In reflecting on Tom's character and dedication, it seems clear that men of such caliber are in short supply. His resiliency, humor and optimism will be sorely missed.

 

 Jason Howard
Colleague


 

We (John, Mary, Patrick and Patrick's classmate Luke Maher) always looked forward to seeing Father Tom at the basketball games. His uplifting spirit and humor made for fun conversations. He was always looking out for the best interests of Patrick and Luke. We pray that he is still watching over them.

 

 Sullivan Family
Patrick Sullivan '02
Friend of the family


 

Father Tom you were such an amazing Man. I will never forget you and what joy you brought to my life and others. May you Rest in Peace Father Tom. I know now you will be looking down on us smiling and guiding us as we grow. Thank you for the support, laughs, and also just being a friend. God Bless and you will be truly missed by MANY!

 

 Catie Pinger
Former Student


 

Father Tom brought out the best in everyone. His great humor and unselfishness made him one of a kind. He will truly be missed, but never forgotten. Thanks for everything FT.

 

 Eric Ambrose
Senior


 

I had the great opportunity to get to know Father Tom when I was on Student Government my Junior and Senior years at Viterbo. I remember him being one of the most "real" people I've ever met. He was approachable, funny, and down-to-earth. One of my most favorite memories of him was working with him to plan our Senior class party- he truly wanted us to enjoy ourselves and celebrate our achievements, you could tell he was proud. I was honored when he wrote a recommendation letter for me to use after I graduated. I feel lucky to have known him, and am certain his legacy will live on at Viterbo. God bless you Father Tom, as it was a blessing to all of us to have you in our lives.

 

 Amy Jo '98
Former Student


 

Tom was a man of determination and great courage! His homillies were words of lived experiences and deep prayer. He never complained about his cancer and gave us an example of how to "live until you die". I join my colleagues in saddness, but am so grateful for the many gifts that he has shared. We are better people because of his presence, and so many people will miss his compassionate,Franciscan hospitality.

 

 Rochelle Potaracke '64
FSPA
Colleague


 

Father Tom was a wonderful person. He has been there for me in so many ways. He will be Missed but never forgotten. He will always be in my heart and mind.

 

 Roxy Prenatt


Father Tom was a great friend and mentor. I am so glad I got the chance to get to know him. I will always remember him announcing the basketball games and coming up with silly names for introductions. He will be missed by many. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and the Viterbo community. Rest In Peace Father Tom.

Kari Thiel '09
Former Student


 

Fr. Tom was a wise man and a wisecracker! A great combination in my book. He was able to combine encouragement, wisdom and humor in short order. Tom will be greatly missed for years to come. It was a privilege learning from him.

 

 Tom Knothe '86
Colleague


 

I cannot remember a time in my life that I didn't know the O'Neill family. They were and still are a remarkable family and my deepest sympathies go out to Marie, Pat, Nancy, Jim, Tim, Dan, Colleen, Steve, Matt and Kathleen. I remember all of their names (I think in order) because many of my younger siblings matched up in age with the O'Neill kids. My mind has been flooded with such fond memories of Tom when we were in grade school. He was a grade behind me, but I remember his teasing and great wit,and he had a fabulous sense of humor and zeal for life. After reading some of the memories of him, I am so happy that those cherised characteristics stayed with him into his adult years. God Bless Fr. Tom and God Bless the O'Neill clan. Fondly,

 

 Jim and Cecilia (Doyle) O'Laughlin
Friend of the family


 

I can't think of Viterbo and not think about Father Tom. And, I'll never forget getting that little prayer card handed out during freshmen orientation a couple days before classes began: The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. Father Tom reminds me a lot of that little prayer - and I've never forgotten either of them. "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace." Father Tom was that for me, giving wisdom during lunch as he sat with us sharing a meal, during class, during one-on-one conversations with him, and during his remarkably thought-provoking sermons. (I swear he is the ONLY priest that can put such incredibly accurate, practical, nonjudgmental wisdom into a fifteen minute sermon. He was amazing - he would finish and everyone would just stare, silent and think.) At any rate, there were two pivotal moments in my life when his advice in conversations saved me from what could have been great mistakes. One of those times in particular was when he counseled me and a former fiancé during our private pre-marriage class. On the questionnaire was a question about my goals - do I work to achieve them, why had I answered "unsure" or "not all the time." I told him sometimes goals change, or we put them aside. He told me (and I'll never forget it), "That's fine, as long as you're okay with it." I thought about that comment for quite a while. I wasn't "okay with it", and we didn't get married - thanks to Father Tom for allowing God to make him an instrument of his peace. I'm not sure if Father Tom knew that he had that kind of influence on others, but hopefully God will fill him in now that he has traveled to the other side. I really like him and have yet to meet a priest I like more. He left some VERY big shoes to fill . . . and will truly be missed.

 

 Serena (Dolato) Bahe '00
Former Student


 

I had the pleasure of attending St. Francis Xavier grade school with Tom in Council Bluffs, IA. I remember him as a witty, fun personality friend who came from a much loved family. I was a year ahead of him and kind of remember him as a tease, with O'Neill red hair & freckles. He will be a great addition in our Heavenly Father's home. Sincerely,

 

 Nan (Fischer) Dew
Friend of the family


 

We remember all the years Fr. Tom held the pet blessings in the Viterbo courtyard and blessed our dog, and all the other animals. It was so wonderful of him to do that and we looked forward to it every year. We will miss him but would like to think all the pets in heaven now have a special person who cares for them to bless them. Thank you Fr. Tom, from Sam, Liz and "Penny".

 

 Liz and Sam Solverson


 

Father Tom, you will always hold a special place in my families heart as you married my wife and I six years ago and have been a friend of mine now for 14 years. You will be deeply missed.

 

 Joshua Peterson '04
Former Student


 

I was a student at Viterbo when my grandmother died. Professor Reese was my teacher and I had mentioned to him that I did not know what we were going to do as far as a small memorial service. Professor Reese told me I should ask Father Tom for advice. When I emailed Father Tom he immediately was warm and friendly like he had known me for years. When I went and met with him about advice he offered to do a memorial service for my grandmother. He even organized to have one of the Sister's play the harp. It was beautiful and I will be forever grateful. I have never met anyone that was so concerned and caring about a student he had never met. This really showed how caring and compassionate he was for everyone. You will be missed Rest In Peace Father Tom.

 

 Glenda Vian '01
Former Student


 

Father Tom was a real blessing to Viterbo, to the FSPA's and to the whole La Crosse community, even extending his compassionate caring to the county jail. I loved his quick and clever Irish wit. But what always amazed me was his Sunday homilies. Besides being reasonably brief, very meaningful and down to earth, they almost always presented a new and fresh interpretation of the scriptures of that Sunday. My one regret is that I didn't take time to take a class from him. We will miss him so much but I suspect that in his selflessness and great generosity he will be walking among us to help and guide us from his heavenly abode -- wherever that may be.

 

 Sr. Marcella Steffes '60
FSPA


Fr. O'Neill helped out at weekend masses/confessionals at the Cathedral Parish. I got to know him there. Fr. O'Neill had the time to talk to myself when an individual committed suicide in the apartment building I was living in and helped me get through the truama. Fr. O'Neill was very encouraging when I had some ongoing health problems and had many doctor's appointments to go to. Again my sympathy to his mother & family, Viterbo University and the FSPAs. Thank you- Richard Dungar La Crosse, Wisconsin-

 Richard Dungar


 

I only have one fond memory of Fr. Tom. I was passing through the halls of Murphy Center one day and he stopped me by name. I had never talked to him before, didn't really know anything about him. He sure knew a lot about me, and that really hit home. He took the time to get to know people in ways that not many knew. He was a great person and I am sure he will be missed by 1000s. Thanks for the memory, Fr. Tom.

 

 Kayle Finn '04
Former Student


I had the privilege of getting to know Father Tom better over the last 2 years while we sat together at the scorer's table during basketball games. He made me laugh every night with his funny stories and anecdotes. He loved to talk about his family. As I watched him interact with the athletes and other students at the games, it was clear to me how much they looked up to him and respected him. I'll never forget when he asked me to call him "Tom"-he made me feel as if we were more than just colleagues-we were friends. I'll miss you TOM.

 Kim Hendricks '01
Former Student
Colleague


As a non-trad student walking the halls of Viterbo for 4 years, I was always impressed that after meeting Fr. Tom he knew my name. Never once in the four years I was a student did I walk past Fr. Tom where he did not say hello using my name. He was always genuinely interested in everyone. My favorite memory was how caring and open Fr. Tom was. For my senior social work advocacy project I originated a Safe Zone program. While sending out my letters and emblem cards for this project Ft. Tom sought me out and told me he had placed his on his door and if there was anyone who felt it should not be there he would talk to them. Luckily no one had an issue but this impressed me in the fact that although the LGBT community is still not whole heartedly embrassed by all, Fr. Tom opened his heart and mind to the project. He was truely a great man who will be sorely missed by many. Viterbo was truely blessed and benefited from his prescence. Scott C Grosskopf La Crosse County Human Services Social Worker Viterbo University Alum May 2009

 Scott Grosskopf '09
Former Student


 

It was a sad day to hear of Fr. Tom's passing. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word. His legacy is that he touched so many people in a positive and Christian way. I attended Vitebo prior to his coming there but he was my neighbor who lived across the street from me when I resided in the South side of LaCrosse. We would chat whenever we could and after I moved he was always nice enough to go out of his way to greet me at various Vitebo events.

 

 Russ Kube '94
Former Student


 

I am sad that I will not be with others today to to help celebrate his life and final journey, for Fr. Tom definitely deserves a celebration. I am a better person from knowing him. Godspeed, Fr. Tom.

 

 Melanie Johnson '86
Former Student


 

Do not stand at my grave and weep; I am not there. I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on snow. I am the sunlight on ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn rain. When you awaken in the morning's hush I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft stars that shine at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there. I did not die. -Thank you Father Tom for all the work that you put into our pilgrimmage last March. I will be forever grateful for that experience. God bless.

 

 Kaitlyn '11
Former Student


 

An Irish prayer in memory of Father Tom, from one Irishperson to another...I have heard many wonderful things about your contributions to Viterbo over the years...may you now be at peace in your eternal home with God.. Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free! I follow the plan God laid for me. I saw His face, I heard His call, I took His hand and left it all… I could not stay another day, To love, to laugh, to work or play; Tasks left undone must stay that way. And if my parting has left a void, Then fill it with remembered joy. A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss… Ah yes, these things I, too, shall miss. My life's been full, I've savoured much: Good times, good friends, a loved-one's touch. Perhaps my time seemed all too brief- Don't shorten yours with undue grief. Be not burdened with tears of sorrow, Enjoy the sunshine of the morrow.

 

 Katie Dempsey '11


 

Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Father Tom, I have tangibly witnessed the impact he has had of the Viterbo Community. The love and gratitude which numerous people have expressed, starting with Rick Artman and Mary Ann Gschwind, make me realize that he truly was - and will remain - at the heart of Viterbo's vibrant culture.

 

 Leticia Pena
New Member of the Board of Trustees


 

In this sad moment it is very difficult to find the words to express the sorrow we feel of losing someone so dear to our family. Fr. Tom was a GREAT person. Viterbo University will not be the same without Fr. Tom. Rest in Peace, Fr. Tom.

 

 Dzikov Family
Friend of the family


 

I'll remember Fr. Tom for the times he spent visiting the School of Nursing Office during our coffee breaks that Sister Grace Clare Beznouz had. Time goes by so swiftly and surely Fr. Tom will be truly missed by all that knew him. After my retiring, it was always nice to visit with him at the Pet Blessings he held every year in October We saw him last October and were hoping to see him again this year, but that was not to be. His suffering is now over and he is resting in peace with God. Our prayers go out to the FSPA and Viterbo communities.

 

 Carol & Fred Strigun


 

I did not have the opportunity to meet Fr. Tom, but I do want to express my sympathy for his loss to those who loved and cared about him. I like to think that I always keep ALL of God's children in my prayers; I will keep Fr. Tom in them.

 

 Sally '76
Former Student


 

Father Tom was just a joy to be around with his constant good humor. He was a great man and contributor to this university and to anyone involved with it.

 

 Former Student


 

Fr. Tom came into my life my second year of school, and was always just so quietly nurturing - I think I took for granted his care for all of us at Viterbo. Seeing him every Sunday at Mass from my music stand in the front of church is a touchstone I won't ever forget. And when my husband and I were married, there was only one priest I wanted to have saying the vows. Thank you for all your gifts, Father Tom. You were truly a blessing in my life.

 

 Yvette Geissinger '97
Former Student


 

Like so many before and after me, Father Tom was an incredible source of support as I tried to discern the best path for my life. In the midst of challenging decisions and a whole host of emotions, he offered numerous opportunities to share ideas and questions. I am thankful for his guidance during my time on campus, and I will never forget our the friendship which developed over the past 10 years. May the Lord's light shine upon him and grant him peace.

 

 Brian Konkol '01
Former Student


 

Father Tom was a great friend and mentor in my life. I was truly blessed to have met and known him. He was always present whenever I needed to talk to him during good and difficult times. And, it is through his guidance, honest feedback, and direction, that I have become the person I am today. Thank you for all the you have done for me Father Tom. You will never be forgotten. I will miss you a lot. God bless.

 

 Kartick Patel '08
Former Student


 

Father Tom was an incredible person and teacher. He was a professor that I enjoyed and will truly miss. He has made me who I am today. I recently converted to the catholic religion, when I never thought I would. But the professors at Viterbo gave me an open mind and a better understanding of the religion. Father Tom didn't care who you were, he always made an attempt to say hi.

 

 Stephanie Walter '05
Former Student


 

Fr. Tom was one of the first people I met at Viterbo. I recall leaving the bookstore with my parents and four or five bags of textbooks on that first day and bumping into Fr. Tom. He joked, "did you leave any books in the store?" From that day on, I always felt comfortable talking with and joking around with Fr. Tom. I loved having meals with him in the cafeteria and helping out at mass. Even after my graduation, we still kept in touch. Whenever he'd be in New York, which was at least once or twice a year, he'd let me know and we'd meet for breakfast or a Broadway show. He was more than just a spiritual leader for me, he was a friend. Father Tom was one in a million, and all of us are blessed that he was a part of our lives.

 

 Margaret Elvekrog '04
Former Student


 

This morning I thought I would take 15 minutes and peek at the tributes to Fr. Tom. An hour later I found myself in awe, not surprised, but in awe of the recollections of so many who were fortunate to have crossed paths with him. I am a second cousin to Fr. Tom and am the same age as he. I grew up looking forward to when Tom, his brother Pat, and sister Nancy would visit their grandmother during the summers. He was very much like his grandmother Delia Chambers O'Neill, having that wonderful Irish humor and caring, yet no-nonsense, human nature. I feel so grateful to have seen Fr. Tom in August at our O'Neill cousins reunion. And like everyone in the Viterbo community, we dearly miss him and carry many fond memories.

 

 Trish Deimerly Perry
Friend of the family


 

I never had the privilage to have Fr. Tom as a professor, but he had such an amazing presence on campus that I didn't need to. He was a friendly face that said hello when walking through courtyard on his way to the chapel. He was a confidant to many of my friends. He brought peace (and laughter) to those around him. He will be greatly missed.

 

 Chelsea Immel '09
Former Student


 

Father Tom was a wonderful man that will greatly be missed by many. I will miss hearing him announce the basketball games and eating lunch with him from time to time. It was a honor to know him and will never forget him and his message. Rest in peace Fr. Tom, you'll be forever missed.

 

 Leah Olson
Former Student


 

As a former student who spent a great deal of time working in The Learning Center as a tutor, I always appreciated Father Tom popping in to say hi, and see how students were doing. He didn't have to advertise that he was available to talk or had an open door policy, you knew that from his friendliness, his compassion and his wonderful sense of humor. When my wife and I would stop in at Viterbo over the past few years it was usually during breaks but Father Tom was always there. He was a fixture at Viterbo and his presence, character, and compassion will be missed deeply.

 

 Nic Gilbertson '02
Former Student


 

I've been friends with Fr. Tom for eleven years and he helped me become a priest for the Diocese of La Crosse through his faith and love of the church.

 

 Fr. Greg Bohren
Colleague


 

You meant so much to me and many others. Rest in Peace, you'll will be dearly missed and never forgotten!

 

 Keegan Connor
Former Student


Father Tom was an amazing person. I feel so blessed to have known him. He helped me through some tough times and really brought me back to the church. I have never had a connection with a priest like that before, but Fr. Tom had a way to make me want to be at church with him every Sunday. I will always remember how he would announce when I got to go into the basketball games and he would always say something to me when I checked in that put a smile on my face. You will be greatly missed Fr. Tom. Thank you for be such a wonderful person and touching so many lives! Rest in peace!

 Kassie Koopman '08
Former Student


I am grateful for the ways that Fr. Tom immersed himself in campus life, whether it be as presider for the liturgies, or announcer at the sports events. His succinct but poignant homilies will be missed. He could say so much in a short time, and one could walk away with something to ponder. As a member of the Viterbo Board of Trustees, I want to additionally thank Fr. Tom for his "conversion" from Jesuit to Franciscan, and all that it implies. Fr. Tom, you have done what was yours to do. Rest in peace in tbe arms of a loving God!

 Marie DesJarlais
FSPA
Viterbo University Board of Trustees


Fr. Tom means a lot for our family. He was the one who joined our wedding in the St. Rose Convent Chapel and made it very special. That his picture is with us on that day will always remain a lasting memory of joy. Fr. As you rest in peace we will pray for you as you pray for us. We will remain connected in spirit till our last day when we will all meet in heaven. Rest in Peace Fr. Tom.

 Eukeria and Kongmo Nsameluh '03
Former Student


Tom and I met in 1981 at Creighton. I am so saddened by his death but I am also so grateful for the friendship and counsel that he offered so generously to me and later my spouse and children. My sympathy to the entire Viterbo Community.

 Duane N. Saint Paul, MN
Creighton '84
Former Student