Name: Fr. Thomas Parlette
Years ordained: 20
Current assignment: Pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish, Davenport, and St. Peter Parish, Buffalo.
How did you know you were being called to priesthood? When I was in the ninth grade I went to church camp where a missionary talked to us about becoming missionaries. I didn’t want to become a missionary, but that’s when I began to feel the call to ministry. After being ordained as a Baptist minister, I worked in a Baptist church.
Later, I got a job working for the military as a chaplain. One day, the secretary in the office told me she was going to set me up with a date. But the Catholic chaplain heard her and said, “Don’t set Tom up with any girls; he’s going to become a priest.” I had been thinking about that anyway. I had observed how the Catholic chaplains were still in the office after it had closed for the day meeting with couples, families, troops, whoever needed their help. That impressed me.
But before I pursued the priesthood, I served with the military in Germany. I dated a young captain there. We talked about marriage, but I ended up in the priesthood and she went to the convent!
Aside from your ordination Mass, what was your most memorable Mass? When I was in Clinton a police officer was killed in the line of duty. They asked me to do the funeral. I was overwhelmed with the crowd. People were standing everywhere. As I was preparing for the funeral I thought about the passage in John’s Gospel: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” And that’s exactly what he (the police officer) did to protect the people. That’s always stuck with me.
What is most rewarding about being a priest? For me, the thing that’s most rewarding is the love of the people in the parish.
What is most challenging about being a priest? Moving seven times in 20 years; I think that’s challenging. Leaving people behind and starting over again.
What is your favorite Scripture passage? 2 Timothy, 4:7 – “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”
What is your hobby? I love to read. For relaxation I read novels, fiction. To keep up with the task of being a priest, there’s a lot of religious reading that gets done.