By Annarae– (Monroe, WI.) On November 11, 2010 Monsignor Thomas Campion was called from this life to rest with our Lord.
Monsignor was a remarkable man in many ways. Over 40 years ago he started the Apostolate to the Handicapped; his dedication to those who had handicaps of one type or another was known far and wide. Each week he would go from Monroe, WI, where he was chaplain of St. Clair hospital, now the Monroe Clinic Hospital, to Madison to offer a Mass for shut-ins, which was televised by a Madison, WI television station.
He had a special gift for remembering people, even if he had not seen them for several years. Many, many people have special stories about Monsignor; remembrances of special events in their lives, the kindnesses he showed to the elderly, the handicapped, those who had one problem or another which they would bring to him, hoping for his advice and prayers.
I, too, have such a remembrance. For many years we took care of my mother, who had suffered the loss of a leg from a diabetic condition. She was in St. Clair hospital for months and then came home to live with us. After some years, she had a stroke and was rushed back to St. Clair. Her condition worsened and we were not able to return her to our home for care, so she was transferred to a local nursing home. As she grew progressively worse, we knew we would not have her with us for much longer. One day when we were visiting her, she was particularly incoherent and thrashed about. The doctor at the nursing home informed us that he felt the end was near. Although my Mom was a practicing Christian, I never knew if she had been baptized or not. It was something we had never discussed so I was very concerned. When we went to the hospital to see if Father Campion was available, we were told he was getting ready to go to Madison. When we told him of our concern, he dropped everything he was doing and rushed with us to the nursing home where he conditionally baptized my Mom. We held her head, since she was unconscious and so restless and was agitated and thrashing about, and her head seemed so heavy in our hands. When he poured the water on her and said the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”, and immediately a sense of peace came over her. Her head, which seemed so heavy, suddenly became almost weightless in our hands. As Father was leaving, he leaned over to Mom’s ear and his parting words to my mother were some I will never forget: “Anna Belle, pray for me”. Less than two hours later, my mom passed on to be with the Lord. Now I ask of Father Campion: Pray for us, Father Campion.
Monsignor said: “…whether you were disabled or abled, rich or poor, young or old, black or white, single, married, widowed, orphaned or part of a colony-sized family, religious or not – everyone belongs. Everyone deserves respect and help. In his eyes, we were all one family and we need to care for one another.” He also said: "Every single one of us is handicapped in some way." We all have disabilities, some more visible than others. You will learn more from spending one day with a person who is ‘disabled’, than you will if you spend a lifetime with someone ‘abled’.”
I include a comment from the Monroe Times, made by some of the many people Father touched in his lifetime. This seems to sum up how most people regarded Monsignor:
“Today, we as a family in Monroe, Green County, southern Wisconsin and the world have lost someone very special. His memory may fade over time, but his legacy and meaning will survive. He was our saint. He was our hero. He was our friend, our grandfather and our brother. He was our Father Tom.”
Rest in Peace, Father Tom.