Father Thomas J. Maguire, a beloved priest of the Diocese of Sacramento for more than 53 years, died on Aug. 31. He had resided at the priests’ retirement village in Citrus Heights since 2017. He was 79.
Bishop Jaime Soto will be the celebrant of a funeral Mass at 10 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 26 in St. Robert Church, located at 2243 Irvin Way in Sacramento.
Visitation will be held on Sunday, Sept. 25 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Calvary Cemetery, located at 7101 Verner Ave. in Citrus Heights. The vigil service will be held at 5 p.m.
Father Maguire served as chaplain of Folsom State Prison from June 1997 to August 2008, and of Mule Creek State Prison in Ione from August 1987 to May 1997. He was pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Rio Vista from 1983 to 1987.
He served as assistant pastor of St. Robert Parish in Sacramento from 1981 to 1983; of St. Paul Parish in Sacramento from 1978 to 1981; of St. Joseph Parish in Marysville from 1973 to 1978; of St. Philomene Parish in Sacramento from 1972 to 1973; and of St. Basil Parish in Vallejo from 1969 to 1972.
A native of Cornamon, Glenfarne County in Ireland, he was the fifth child born to the Maguire family. He began his education at Cornamon National School in Glenfarne when he was four. He attended first through fifth grades at the National School from 1947 to 1954. He transferred to Brockagh National School in Glenfarne for his secondary education from 1954 to 1957, then transferred to St. Patrick College in Cavan from 1957 to 1963.
In the fall of 1963, Father Maguire entered All Hallows Cemetery in Dublin, but spent only one year in this seminary because he had difficulty dealing with the Vincentian approach to seminary training. He left the seminary and went to London, where he worked for British Lion Films as a booking agent. At the end of 1964, Father Maguire decided to return to the seminary but to St. John Seminary in Waterford for the next five years.
When Father Maguire was studying at All Hallows, he had decided to serve in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. When he returned to Waterford, he reapplied to the archdiocese but did not receive a response. Evidently, Cardinal James McIntyre was involved in other matters at the time.
After two years in Waterford, in his second year of divinity studies, Father Maguire was preparing for tonsure and did not have a diocese. The rector of the seminary advised Father Maguire that he needed a bishop to accept him for a diocese. The rector suggested that he apply to the Diocese of Sacramento. Father Maguire had no idea where Sacramento was, but wrote a letter to Bishop Alden Bell to see if he would accept him as a student for the diocese.
There were several seminarians studying for Sacramento at St. John Seminary at that time, including Michael O’Hara, Liam macCarthy and Maurice O’Brien. Bishop Bell responded to Father Maguire’s request quickly and the diocese accepted him as a student.
He was ordained to the priesthood in Holy Trinity Cathedral in Waterford on June 7, 1969 by Bishop Michael Russell of the Diocese of Waterford. After his ordination, he spent a couple of months with his family in Glenfarne and then left Ireland in early August for New York City, where he spent 10 days with his sister.
Father Maguire said he appreciated being a prison chaplain in final two decades of priestly ministry, as he got the opportunity to talk individually with prisoners who were on lock down, and he also provided programs on recovery from alcoholism and anger management.
After retiring in 2008, Father Maguire enjoyed traveling around the diocese to assist in parishes. He enjoyed traveling to new places in California and began serving as a chaplain on cruise ships. In retirement, he was also actively involved with paroled inmates who were endeavoring to reconstruct their lives in difficult circumstances.
“I have never had any regrets about ministering in the Sacramento Diocese,” he told Father John Boll, diocesan archivist, who wrote Father Maguire’s biography for the diocesan website (see https://www.scd.org/sites/default/files/2020-04/Vol3-No23-Maguire-Fr-Thomas.pdf). “I feel a deep love for the people and the state, the beauty and diversity of its people, matched and exceeded only by its spectacular vistas.”
Father Maguire was preceded in death by his parents, Denis and Catherine, his brother, Paddy, and sisters Annie and Peggie. He is survived by his brother, Hughie, his sister, Catherine, many nieces, nephews and cousins, as well as his extended family, clergy and friends.