Tom Gilbert Jr. recently retired as the first Editor
of the SOH newsletter, Words of Hope. For five years he faithfully
gathered (and reminded and rewrote) articles and arranged them artfully
and on time, took them to the printer, delivered them to SOH and then
helped to tape and ready them for mailing. He updated our mailing
arrangement with bar codes and labels and in general made it possible
for us to have a newsletter. For the last three years he has also set up
and managed our web site that can potentially reach people all over the
world. In fact we have received contributions from people who have
learned about us on the web site. Donna Cermak thinks that Tom really
evangelized through the web site. "His devotion to SOH and strong
belief in the mission is evidenced by all of his hard work."
During his career in the Air Force, Tom was a B58 and
F4 hot jet pilot. Tom was a manager for the Air Force and the State of
Oklahoma. After he retired as a full colonel he worked as a consultant
and taught at Donnelly College and Kansas City Community College. Tom
and his wife Jean celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary this
year. They have three children: Leslie, Tom III and Doug, they also have
Tom and Jean met Father Dennis, Gary Schumann and Willie Etta
Jennings when they were members of Our Lady and St. Rose Parish in
Kansas City, KS where Tom was a lector. They were in charge of the
Catechumenate program for several years and offered other information
classes. They also regularly attended daily 5:00 Mass and the associated
prayer group and were present at the early planning of SOH and prayer
meetings at St. Mary-St. Anthony Church. Tom helped to write the
original proposal to establish SOH and Jean is still a committed prayer
warrior. Gary described Tom as very organized.
Tom helped Gary to organize his thinking about the data Gary is
assembling for the resource file. Willie Etta said that "Tom
appears to be very stiff but he really isnít when you get to know him.
He is actually jolly with a keen sense of humor. He is capable in
whatever he does. He shows his military background in his demeanor and
the way he carries himself and the way he wants things to be done. He is
a very generous person."
Bernadine also noted Tomís military ways when she
said, "If youíve enjoyed the newsletter as much as I have, you
can thank the ĎGeneral.í He can be difficult to work for, but he
puts out an excellent product. He will be a hard act to follow."
Jeff Seib expressed the great value of Tomís work over the years when
he said, "It will take five people to do what Tom has been doing by
himself." (At present we have two editors of the newsletter and
three people who have volunteered to help Jeff Seib with the web site.)
Marilyn Connolly found Tom was very fair, co-operative and forgiving
except about the newsletter deadline. "He had to get the finished
product to the printer on time and he had good boundaries to enable him
to get this done. He always said that he was only the editor and he
didnít write articles, but sometimes he did write articles and put
someone elseís name on them. And he did all the boxes, wish lists and
was so creative with the back page. I hope that we can be as efficient,
capable and creative."
Father Dennis said that "Tom is a man of deep
faith, generosity and perseverance. His love for his family is very
evident. Besides being careful to cover events in the newsletter and on
the web, Tom kept track of the number of Ďhitsí on the web site. He
was always pleased when he needed to order a larger number of
newsletters. Tom really enjoyed seeing progress at SOH as well as
ministers and people of different faiths together at SOH.
Sometimes Tom pitched in on work day even when he didnít feel well and
was in pain." When Father Dennis noticed Tomís attention to
details, and his faithfulness to attend Pastoral Council meetings, Tom
was asked to be our legal advisor. Tom Schwarzenberger describes Tom as
"always listening, reflecting and giving sound advice."
All of us at Sanctuary of Hope are grateful for
Tomís many efforts. We look forward to spending with him in the future
and ask a blessing on Tom Gilbert Junior and his family. Well done good
and faithful servant!