Friends of Fr. Thomas M. Dore are remembering him as a mentor, a devoted friend, and a priest who lived out his faith and vocation.
“He really enjoyed being a priest, being a servant serving others, spreading the joy of the Gospel,” said Fr. Robert Oldershaw, who knew Dore since their years at the University of St. Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary.
Dore, 86, died on December 17 from complications from COVID-19. At the time of his death he was a retired resident priest at St. Pascal Parish in Chicago. He had served as pastor of St. Giles Parish, Oak Park, and Our Lady of Ransom Parish, Niles, and as assistant pastor at St. Hubert, Hoffman Estates, and St. Priscilla and St. Justin the Martyr Parishes, both in Chicago.
During his retirement at St. Pascal Parish, Dore continued to evangelize through his priestly service and his interaction with others. St. Pascal parishioner Bill Cash looked forward to Dore’s homilies, but said he learned even more about the faith from the priest’s actions. “His greatest influence was by his personal example—in the way he always conducted himself. He was always very kind to people, very generous, very open to people. I saw him reach out to different types of people all the time. He was never afraid to engage anyone in conversation,” he said.
His openness to others encouraged people to seek him out for counsel in their faith and vocation. When St. Pascal’s became Fr. Elliott Dees’ first pastorate, the young priest asked Dore if he could mine the wisdom of his experience. “He was a great mentor,” Dees said, adding, “He was always willing to talk things through with me.”
Deacon Charles Shallcross, who was ordained in 2019, held high regard for Dore’s guidance as Shallcross ministered at St. Pascal’s. The senior priest would suggest reading material and provide pointers to the deacon to strengthen his homilies. “He had so much wisdom and so much heart. He was really an old-school priest in every positive sense. I couldn’t say enough about how he touched people’s lives.”
Dore ministered at St. Pascal’s through his presence at events and in his actions. When St. Vincent de Paul Society members made up bags of sandwiches, the priest put the cheese or salami on the bread. “He didn’t have to be the boss. He would just join in with whatever was going on,” Shallcross said.
Janie Koerner, who typed Dore’s talks for retreats and seminars and assisted with the mailing of his 1,300 Christmas cards to parishioners and friends around the country, marveled at the priest’s connections. “He just kept everyone in his circle. He never lost touch with anyone.”
Though many were stunned by Dore’s death, Koerner said Dore was ready, having given away his possessions, including the nativity sets that he had collected from around the world and donated to St. Pascal’s. “He really lived his vocation. He really did,” she said.
As the spiritual director of the Women’s Club at St. Pascal’s, Dore deepened the members’ spiritual life through prayer connected to the liturgical year and encouraged their apostolic works by prompting them to organize a series of community efforts: a coat drive for the St. Vincent de Paul Society; a hat, scarf, and glove drive for a ministry that caters to the homeless; a personal hygiene-product drive for incarcerated women; and a high school scholarship fund for girls.
“He knew that it was important that the women were spiritually fed,” said member Jackie Cvikota. Aware also of the importance of celebration, Dore was the master chef annually at the barbecue that started off the Women’s Club year. “He celebrated life; he enjoyed life,” she said.
Even though the celebration of Dore’s fifty-ninth anniversary to the priesthood needed to be socially distant, the women’s club found a way to honor him. “He enjoyed being a priest,” Cvikota said. “When we celebrated his ordination in May, he was just beaming. He was truly a shepherd for his flock.”
Dore’s ministry was rooted in prayer, said Fr. Daniel Coughlin, who had been friends with Dore since their last years at Quigley Prep Seminary. “Personal prayer was so important to him,” Coughlin said, adding, “Liturgical prayer is rooted in personal prayer.”
In an interview with the Chicago Catholic, published in January 2009, Dore said that he would make an eight-day silent retreat annually and spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament each morning. “I took a cue from Cardinal Bernardin to spend the first hour of the day with the Lord.”
Fr. Vince Costello, who shared a forty-four-year friendship with Dore, noticed the influence of that prayer life. “He was a very honest man who understood who Jesus was for him and who he was for Jesus,” said Costello, the pastor of Holy Cross Church, Deerfield.
The faith that Dore resonated in his ministry reflected the faith that his parents lived out as lay people in the Church. When in the mid-1960s education was needed regarding the changes in the Mass, Fr. Ted Stone put together materials and looked to Dore’s parents, Tom and Mae Dore, to distribute them. Soon, the Dore home was overflowing with the trifold hymnal that the couple was delivering to the 450 parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
“We had Thanksgiving dinner in the living room because the dining room was full of liturgy, and the basement was full of liturgy, and the porch was full of liturgy, the garage was full of liturgy, and the neighbors’ garage was full of liturgy,” Fr. Dore recalled in a video for Liturgy Training Publications (LTP).
The priest helped his parents distribute the materials to parishes and always took pride in his parents’ roles in the work of Liturgy Training Program (the forerunner of LTP), which was housed in the Dore home from 1964 to 1979.
Through the decades, Dore promoted LTP’s resources to priests and continued a connection with the agency. “He always wanted to make sure that we maintained our link with the history of Liturgy Training Publications, which was around the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and encouraging lay participation in the liturgy, a participation that was not just as the faithful but as active in liturgical roles,” said John A. Thomas, director of LTP from August 2001–2016.
When LTP moved to its present location at 3949 S. Racine Avenue, Tom and Mae Dore were honored with a plaque set into the building. “He was over the moon about the plaque,” Thomas noted.
LTP Director Deanna M. Keefe has appreciated Dore’s support. “I was always grateful for his enthusiasm for the work LTP was doing and his commitment and desire to share the contributions that his parents made to the Church through their work in promoting participation and understanding of the liturgy after Vatican II and the promulgation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy,” she said.
To those who knew the Dore family, it was apparent that love for the liturgy was passed from one generation to the next. “He grew up imbued with the liturgy, imbued with the beauty of the Church’s worship,” said Fr. Oldershaw.