Tom was taken from us unexpectedly in the early hours of Sunday morning. He had posted a new profile picture of himself on Facebook. He did not know that he would meet his Lord so soon, or that the circumstances of his death would prove so brutal and senseless. But such is the way it was, and we are left mourning a good and faithful friend, who witnessed to the values he believed in: faith in God, the Gospel, Truth and universal brotherhood.
Tom came in touch with the Focolare about fifteen years ago and its spirituality based on love of neighbour, became a touchstone in his life. A man of ideas, he liked to debate politics, arts, music and media also allowing the Gospel to imbue his personality and life. He was a real ‘people person’ always available to others with his wit, optimism, insight and creativity. You couldn’t ask for better company
Many tributes have been written to Tom: as a Catholic journalist, from Sarah McDonald from CatholicIreland.net; as a member of the Pro Life Campaign from its chairman Joe McCarroll; and as a fine researcher with the Iona Institute from David Quinn.
In the community of the Focolare, we are grateful to Tom for his great support and enthusiasm for the youth branches of the movement, in particular Youth for a United World (Y4UW). For years Tom worked with young people enjoying the many challenges and obstacles that went along with this. He was practical and expected the most of them.
He had the ability to blend with younger people. He would happily sit and chat away with them for hours. He found common ground – sports or movies, a game of UNO. Then he would begin a discussion on the deeper questions that many young people have inside, but perhaps do not get a chance to talk about.
He was generous with his time, willing to deepen personal relationships with cinema trips and cups of coffee, even though he drank neither tea nor coffee. His wide circle of friends loved his impressions. At a concert at a Focolare event some years ago when Tom was MC, he managed to keep up his famous Yoda from Star Wars impression for the entire show.
He was always generous and thoughtful, remembering the important events in the lives of friends through a Facebook message or text. While in Florence, on a trip to World Unity Week some years ago, as the group strolled around the city eating ice-cream, Tom, a true gentleman, presented each girl with a single rose he had bought from a flower seller.
We are absolutely horrified, shocked and appalled by his killing and its brutal nature. We gather close remembering Tom, his sister Catherine and brother Paul in our prayers. Tom would not want us to stop in the path which he walked so faithfully – towards universal brotherhood. We believe he would want us to double our love to make amends for this terrible act which has deprived us of so good a friend here on earth.
Love does not die, so we believe the love we shared with Tom remains and we are united with him in heaven, perhaps as never before.
We pray too for Tom’s assailant and his family who we know to be deeply shocked and traumatised.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.