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 | By Brittany DeHaan

What's His Story? Father Tom Morgan

September 27, 2023 | In the Catholic world we often encounter women and men who have chosen to live radically different lives. Often it can lead us to ask, “what’s his or her story?” In this series we are honored to share the stories of priests and religious in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Do you think you know what priesthood and religious life is all about? You might just be in for a few surprises. 

Today we learn about Father Tom Morgan, who was ordained on May 19, 1984. He will be installed as Rector at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle on October 1, 2023.

Where did you grow up? Describe your childhood and your family.

I was born in Thibodaux, LA. My dad, Thomas Morgan, Sr. who worked for Freeport Sulphur was transferred to Tampa, FL in 1961. With my mom, Joyce and myself, we moved into our new home in the Wellswood neighborhood. This was within the boundaries St. Lawrence Catholic Church, which was a short walk from Tampa Catholic High School– a place that would have a significant role in my life. We would later move to the neighborhood of Egypt Lake Estates where we remained until we moved to Plant City and St. Clement Catholic Church in 1975.

We were joined by my two uncles Paul and Roy Roundtree who lived with us during their teenage years, and later my sister Geri who was adopted through Catholic Charities of St. Petersburg. In addition, later our family grew when my sister Kelly and my brother Michael were born.

I have often said that growing up in Tampa we could be found either at St. Lawrence Catholic Church or the bowling alley. It was during this time that my vocation to the priesthood was nurtured in the home of my parents and under the influence of Msgr. Laurence Higgins, the other priests of the parish, the Augustinians of the Assumption, the Sisters of St. Clare, St. Lawrence Catholic School, the Adrian Dominican Sisters, and Tampa Catholic High School.

What are your hobbies or personal interests?

I enjoy putting together Christmas puzzles.

What is your favorite movie and why?

My favorite movie is, “The Christmas Carol,” based on the book written by Charles Dickens. It is my favorite because even the hardest of hearts can change. The story is an invitation to live at the deepest level of life.

How long have you been a priest?

I have been a priest for 39 years.

Why did you become a priest? How did you know you were called to be a priest?

The idea of being a priest was present throughout my early life through my first year as a student at Florida State University. On February 12, 1977, I attended Mass at the University of South Florida Catholic Student Center, I prayed a vocation prayer on the back of the missalette. I felt something in my heart saying to me that God wanted me to serve Him as a priest. I shared this with my parents and then I met with Msgr. Higgins who assisted me in discerning the call to serve God as a diocesan priest.

Is there someone who had a big influence on your vocation?

First, I would say that my parents in rooting me deeply in my Catholic Faith. I was also influenced by Msgr. Higgins and the other priests of St. Lawrence Catholic Church, Fr. Paul Goudreau, the Assumptionists, and the Sisters of St. Clare.

What has been your favorite part of being a priest?

My favorite part of being a priest has been the joy of walking with the people of the parishes that I have served at over the past 39 years and served as a priest of the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Also, in recognizing that “all is gift.” What you receive as a gift, give as a gift.

Do you have a favorite Sacrament?

I am especially thankful for the Holy Eucharist. The wonder of realizing that God in His great love, humbly makes Himself so available to us. The example of what the Eucharist teaches us about God calls upon us to live in imitation of what we see.

Who is your favorite saint and why?

St. Gerard Majella is my patron saint. My mother sought his intercession when I was born, and her prayers were answered. I will always be grateful for his prayers.

What would you say to a man who thinks God might be calling him to the priesthood?

God makes His call clear to those He is inviting to the priesthood.  What have you noticed God saying and doing in your life along the way?

What is something about you that people might not know about you?

I have served as a chaplain to a Teams of Our Lady group of married couples for over 20 years.

As the newly installed Rector of St. Jude Cathedral, what are you most looking forward to?

I am looking forward with the parishioners of St. Jude to continue to listen to Jesus speaking to us and leading us as our Good Shepherd.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the diocese?

I am inspired by the many priests that the Lord has sent to us throughout the history of our Diocese. Priests who have come to us from far away lands but have accepted the call to live, serve, and die with us in our and their new home. It means something to me to be able to say that I am a priest of the Diocese of St. Petersburg. I am grateful to our bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and to the people of our Diocese for being home and family and for the gift of making this great journey to the Lord together.