Family, pastoral care remained the focus of the missionary's ministry

Father Thomas Griffith SVD, 80, a champion of Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WWME) for three decades, passed away at Techny, Ill., on Jan. 10.
Father Griffith joined the staff of Miramar Retreat Center in Duxbury, Mass., in 2002. Working as a member of the retreat team allowed him to take an active role in Worldwide Marriage Encounter, one of the Catholic Church’s first faith-based marriage enrichment programs.
In 2016, Father Griffith and married couple Peter and Sheila Oprysko were selected to the WWME United States Ecclesial Team. As the national leadership team, the trio led the international program in the United States and oversaw planning for the organization’s 50th-anniversary convention in Chicago in 2018.
During his time on the East Coast, Father Griffith also served as the Divine Word representative to the Archdiocese of Boston Presbyteral Council.
A proud Chicagoan, Father Griffith was born in the city on Christmas Day 1943 to Margaret (nee McKeown) and Vincent Griffith. His parents’ only child, he graduated from St. Rita of Cascia Grade School and entered high school at Divine Word Seminary in East Troy, Wis., in 1957.
He professed his first vows in 1965 and was ordained to the priesthood at Techny in 1969. His first assignment was to the Eastern Province, which later merged with the Northern Province to become the Chicago Province.
In addition to his seminary training, Father Griffith studied business as an undergraduate at DePaul University. In 1974, he received a master’s degree in business administration from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
He served as assistant treasurer for the SVD Eastern Province, based in Washington, D.C., from 1970 to 1974; as dean of students and as a teacher at Divine Word Seminary at Bordentown, N.J., from 1974 to 1983; and as business manager for Divine Word International at Techny from 1983 to 1993. He also served as provincial treasurer for the Chicago Province and the rector of the Divine Word community at Techny.
During his career in administration, he remained active in pastoral care and assisted pastors at St. Norbert in Northbrook, Ill.; St. Ambrose in Old Bridge, N.J.; and Our Lady of the Angels in Woodbridge, Vir.
Due to health reasons, Father Griffith moved back to Techny in 2019.
He is survived by many Divine Word confreres and cousins whom he visited each time he returned to Chicago.
Father Griffith’s wake and funeral will be Thursday, Jan. 18, at 9 a.m. in the Divine Word Residence Chapel. Burial at St. Mary Cemetery at Techny will take place after the 10:30 a.m. funeral Mass.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in the name of Father Thomas Griffith can be made for the care of elderly and infirm missionaries and sent to The Rector, Divine Word Residence, 1901 Waukegan Road, P.O. Box 6000, Techny, IL 60082-6000.
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