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home : faith : word of faith

3/13/2014 10:03:00 AM
Rev. Thomas Powers, 78

A funeral Mass was offered March 10 at St. Vincent de Paul Church, Albany, for Rev. Thomas Powers, who died March 5. He was 78 and had been a priest for 51 years.

A native of Albany, he was ordained in 1962 and earned a doctorate in theology in 1983, having studied in Rome, Italy. Upon his return to the Albany Diocese, he served as associate pastor at St. John the Baptist parish in Greenville, Sacred Heart in Cohoes, Sacred Heart of Mary in Watervliet and St. Patrick's in Athens, while teaching at St. Patrick's Central Catholic High School in Catskill, Keveny High in Cohoes and Catholic Central High in Troy. He was chaplain at Albany Medical Center for three years, then pastor of St. Agnes/St. Patrick's parish in Cohoes from 1975-79 and, briefly, chaplain at St. Mary's Hospital in Troy.

In the 1980s, he spent seven years in Rome, directing the graduate school (Casa Santa Maria) at the North American College and the U.S. Visitors to the Vatican Office. He then served in the Albany Diocese as director of the Office of Clergy Education, chair of the board for the Ministry of Priests program and moderator of St. Luke's Guild. He taught at Siena College in Loudonville and St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry in Albany and was chaplain for the Academy of the Holy Names in Albany and for Catholic students at Albany Medical College.

He served as pastor of St. John the Baptist parish in Valatie from 1993-98, then as pastor of St. Teresa of Avila parish in Albany. He retired in 2005.

Known for his intelligence and humor, Father Powers told The Evangelist many stories about his time in Rome. At the U.S. Visitors to the Vatican Office, he sometimes got unusual requests from tourists wanting to attend papal audiences - including one letter stating that "Smidget, the Trick Horse" would like to perform for the pope. Father Powers called a member of the papal household and presented the request as if he were seriously considering it, leaving the papal assistant aghast.

It's notable, as friends and family mourn him, that many of Father Powers' musings were on the subject of loss. After the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., he reflected, "I have read the Beatitudes over and over again, recalling Jesus' words of blessing for those who are mourning the loss of life, the need for consolation....My prayer is that, in the Beatitudes, we will find the courage and hope we need to meet the coming days as true disciples of Christ."

A book review he did in 1998 of spiritual author Rev. Raymond Brown's last book seems especially prophetic: "The last page will occasion our wishing for just one more character, one more story, one more inside bit of news. Death has taken [him] from us, so there will not be 'one page more,' but what a true gift he has left us."

Interment was in Calvary Cemetery, Glenmont.

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