1914 – 2008 (November 25)
Thomas Garrett was born in San Diego, California on November 5, 1914 to Nellie Walsh and Thomas Patrick Garrett. Two years later his sister Mary was born. The Garretts were active members of St. Vincent de Paul parish in the Mission Hills section of San Diego. Tom was educated at Florence and Grant Public Schools from 1919 to 1928. He then attended Saint Augustine High School, San Diego, where he was a good student and participated in the football, basketball, drama, and debating programs. In 1932 he graduated as the Valedictorian of his class. Three months after graduation, he entered the novitiate in New Hamburg, New York, and he professed his religious vows on September 11, 1933. He went on to Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania, as well as graduate school at Augustinian College, Washington DC. He was ordained to the priesthood in San Diego by Bishop Charles Buddy on June 3, 1939.
Father Garrett served as a teacher at Saint Rita High School, Chicago from 1940 to 1944. From 1944 until his death, he was assigned to ministry in California. He was twice at Villanova Prep School in Ojai, from 1944 to 1951, and from 1959 to 1961. In 1951 he ministered at Our Mother of Good Counsel Church in Los Angeles. Father Tom’s greatest love in ministry was found during his two assignments at St. Augustine High School in San Diego, from 1952 to 1959, and from 1961 until he went into limited service many years later.
Towards the end of his school ministry, Father Tom was also the Director of the Augustinian Guild in California. He soon transitioned from schoolteacher to full-time director. In this capacity he became known for being a spiritual director for many tours of Catholic pilgrimage sites throughout Europe, the profits from which supported the costs of education of candidates and the assistance to infirm Augustinians. Father’s spirituality, patience, and gentlemanly manner made him an ideal travel leader.
Father Tom was a prayerful gentleman who never paused to listen to or participate in gossip. He seldom complained; even when confined to his room or wheelchair, he would write in his Christmas letters “thank God that I have been blessed with good health.” If he were stubborn, he was also stubborn in his faith — never flinching from what he knew to be truth. His strong belief in the pro-life movement often had him dividing up his meager allowance among a myriad of organizations dedicated to the right of the unborn.
He passed over to the Lord on November 25, 2008. A wake and Funeral Mass were held at St. Vincent de Paul Church, San Diego on Friday morning, November 28th, after which burial took place at Holy Cross Cemetery.