Jesuit Fr. Tom McCarthy
Jesuit Fr. Tom McCarthy


Jesuit Father Tom McCarthy, a longtime pastor in western Oregon, died Aug. 1 at a hospital near the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, California. He was 89.

A memorial Mass for Father McCarthy is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 8, at St. Francis Church in Sherwood. The Mass will be livestreamed and information on signing up to attend in person will be available on the parish website.

Father McCarthy, who had a devoted following, was pastor of St. Francis Parish in Sherwood for 19 years.

Beth Link, a former parishioner, told the Sentinel in 2012 that she and her husband would pack up the kids and drive from their new home far away just to attend Mass with the amiable priest.

In 2012, Father McCarthy moved from St. Francis and into the Jesuit community in Southeast Portland. He later went to the Jesuit retirement community in Los Gatos.

A North Dakota native, he graduated from Central Catholic High School in Portland and entered the Jesuits in 1949. After teaching at Seattle Prep for years as a seminarian, he was ordained in 1962.

In the 1970s, he taught at Jesuit High in Portland and also at Gonzaga University. For nine years, he served in provincial administration for his religious community, then became a hospital chaplain and pastor in the central Oregon town of La Pine.

In 1993, he was named pastor in Sherwood, which was about to go through a boom as a Portland bedroom community.

In 2004, he and a team of laity led the opening of the first new Catholic school in Oregon in 45 years.

“We have acres of land and acres of kids,” he told the Catholic Sentinel then with typical wit. “What better to do with that? We’re walking where angels fear to tread. Not many angels have started a new school lately.”

He said one of a parish’s most important duties is helping parents teach their children to cope in a materialistic world and live the Gospel.

In 2005, Father McCarthy was leading a pilgrimage in Rome when Pope John Paul died.

“There you are with all these wonderful, devout, reverential people,” he said then. “Being in the crowd was an essential experience. The people were intent on honoring Pope John Paul. You saw him in a new way because of the people who came.”

There can be controversy at parishes. Father McCarthy had a strategy based on Jesuit spirituality.

“It’s all discernment of God’s will and what is to God’s greater glory,” he said in 2012. “All the trouble can be minimized if you keep God’s greater glory foremost. It brings serenity.”

Over the years, he marveled at how lay people serve their families and

their parish and do so much good in the world. For his part as a celibate man, he felt blessed to have time and freedom to share the Gospel.

“As long as my inner motive is to proclaim the Gospel, I can take anything,” he said.

In his last weeks at the parish, he asked the secretary to print lists of all the children he had baptized and all the youngsters who received first Communion from his hand. He kept the bulky documents as sacred mementoes.