By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

Msgr. Thomas J. Scanlon, a former pastor of Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Northeast Philadelphia and a former rector of St. Joseph’s-in-the-Hills Malvern Retreat House in Malvern, died Monday, Aug. 30, 2010 at St. Mary Manor in Lansdale, where he had been a retired priest in residence.

He was 79 years old.{{more}}

The fifth of six children of the late William S. and Irene W. (Murphy) Scanlon was born Feb. 12, 1931 in Philadelphia.

“I was always Tom’s little sister,” said Gerri Scanlon Ibberson, 76. “We were the cartoon people,” she quipped referring to the animated cat and mouse, Tom and Jerry. “We used to kid that we were on the cartoons.

“He was a wonderful brother,” she added. “He was always there for all of us. He was very loved and loved people. He will be missed.”

Jesuit Father James F. Goeke, 52, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and a nephew of Msgr. Scanlon, said his priest uncle made time to get to know the nephews and nieces. “Even though we lived a long way away, he was a part of our family who went that extra mile to stay connected. He came to my first vows in Denver, to my diaconate ordination in California, to my priestly ordination in Missouri. His passion for the Church – and for serving the Church – were an inspiration to me.”

Among Father Goeke’s cherished memories of his uncle were his many visits. “He would always be reading a book to deepen his understanding of theology or to stay on top of what was being studied about the Scriptures. He was a man who was continually learning, and continually wanting to learn more and more about his faith.”

He graduated from St. Bartholomew School in 1945 and Northeast Catholic High School for Boys in 1949, then entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.

“He was a devoted friend,” said Msgr. Francis X. Schmidt, pastor emeritus of St. Augustine Parish in Bridgeport ordained two years ahead of Msgr. Scanlon.

Thomas served as Francis’ assistant at the St. Charles Seminary store and, upon Francis’ ordination, succeeded him in running the store.

Among Msgr. Schmidt’s favorite memories of St. Charles Seminary was the time they and three other seminarians got caught in the fog on a car trip in the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. “We stopped at a wayside picnic area and spent the night sleeping on picnic tables. In the morning we discovered we were sleeping in bear territory.”

Msgr. Scanlon was ordained a priest for the Philadelphia Archdiocese on May 7, 1959 at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia by Cardinal John O’Hara. He was named a monsignor by Pope John Paul II on May 29, 1991.

Assignments included parochial vicar, St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Chester Heights; St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Norristown; Nativity B.V.M. Parish, Philadelphia and St. Titus Parish, East Norriton.

He also served on the faculty of Cardinal Dougherty High School in Philadelphia and Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote and taught classes at Holy Family College and La Salle College in Philadelphia.

He was served as pastor of Resurrection of Our Lord Parish from 1989 through 1996.

Secondary assignments included the archdiocesan Committee on School Choice; board and staff member of Villa St. Joseph, Darby; coordinator of Marriage and Catholic Engaged Encounters and chaplain of the Courage Ministry.

An ardent pro-life advocate, Msgr. Scanlon participated in countless demonstrations and worked to impact public policy. He also participated in a local radio call-in show to answer questions listeners posed about the Catholic faith.

Auxiliary Bishop Michael J. Fitzgerald celebrated Msgr. Scanlon’s funeral Mass Friday, Sept. 3 at St. Titus Church in East Norriton. Concelebrants included Father Goeke, who was also the homilist; Msgrs. Thomas A. Murray, Francis X. Schmidt and Daniel J. Sullivan and Father Edward A. Windhaus.

Survivors include two sisters, Mary Goeke and Gerri Ibberson; two brothers-in-law, Edward Murphy and John Ibberson, a sister-in-law, Mary Scanlon; and numerous nieces and nephews.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by two brothers, William and Alfred and a sister, Irene Murphy; a niece, Gerri Sheridan; a great-niece, Tara Scanlon and a brother-in-law, Don Goeke.

Interment was at Calvary Cemetery in West Conshohocken.

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or