Thomas Bernard Smith, O.P.
Born: Jul. 11, 1929
Professed: Aug. 26, 1952
Ordained: Jun. 5, 1958
Died: Jan. 7, 2007
A native of Springfield, KY, where the first foundation of our Province was established at St. Rose in 1806, Father Thomas Bernard Smith, O.P., received his early education there. After attending Providence College in Providence, RI, he entered the Order of Preachers and received the Dominican habit at St. Stephen Priory in Dover, MA, in 1951. Having completed his philosophical and theological studies at St. Rose in Kentucky, St. Joseph’s in Somerset, OH, and at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC, Father Smith was ordained to the priesthood at St. Dominic Church in Washington in 1958.
The first several years of his priestly ministry were spent in the service of God’s people in the parish of St. Dominic in Detroit, MI, where Father Smith was greatly admired and loved. In 1967, he attained a long-held desire to be a missionary by volunteering to serve in the Province’s Vicariate in the city of Chimbote, Peru. For thirty years Father Smith gave himself in total service to the people of Chimbote who were principally poor fishermen and their families. Having become fluent in Spanish, he worked closely with the children and adults in several parishes in Chimbote, so successfully that in 1976 he was appointed Vicar Provincial and entrusted with the responsibility of guiding the progress of the Dominican Peruvian mission for many years.
Periodically, Father Smith made visits home, not only to renew association with family and friends, but also to make appeals in Dominican parishes within the Province on behalf of his people in Chimbote. These appeals were remarkably successful due in great measure to the dedication and enthusiasm he demonstrated and which prompted his benefactors to be all the more generous in their contributions to the mission in Peru.
In 1997, having spent himself so totally in his missionary role, Father Smith returned to his beloved Kentucky where he was appointed pastor of his native parish of St. Rose in Springfield. While still relatively young, he was stricken with Parkinson’s disease and over the years became more and more limited in his physical ability to function. Finally, in 2003, Father Smith retired to the Nazareth Home in Louisville, KY, where he received extraordinarily professional and loving care from the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth until his death.
Years before, with the permission of his Provincial Superior, Father Smith had willed his body to the University of Louisville Medical School, in a typical act of generosity even to the end, in the hope that more could be learned about the source and treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.
A memorial Mass was concelebrated at St. Rose Church in Springfield on January 11, 2007, with Father Norman Haddad, Prior of St. Louis Bertrand Priory in Louisville and former Provincial, as principal celebrant. A large number of Father Smith’s relatives and friends were in attendance. Once the remains of the body are returned by the Medical School, they will be buried in the Dominican community cemetery at St. Rose, a truly suitable final resting place for this noble and admirable friar, who was known affectionately and fittingly throughout his life as “Preacher” Smith.