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Father Tom Award recipient: Tom Griffin '62


 Tom Griffin speaks to the Scecina Community gathered at the Father Tom Mass as he gratefully accepted the Father Tom Award.   

Tom Griffin ’62 says his answer will always be “yes” when he is called upon to serve the Scecina Community. 

As a Scecina graduate and U.S. military veteran, every year he attends the annual Father Tom Mass. This year, he was the honoree, as he was awarded the prestigious Father Tom Award at the annual celebration on Oct. 24. The award is given to a person who as given a little extra to Scecina.

Griffin was born on Oct. 26, 1944, just two days after Father Tom died at sea during World War II. In 1963, the lifelong parishioner at Little Flower Parish  enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in Germany from 1964 to 1967, serving the nation in security and law enforcement. 

Scecina President Joe Therber noted how Griffin has dedicated much of his life to serving Scecina. 

Just a few examples of Tom’s involvement in the Scecina Community, in the words of those who nominated him for this award, are the countless hours he has spent reviewing yearbooks to update the school’s database, being a key member of the Scecina Veterans Committee, giving his insights and encouragement for the bronze bust of Father Tom in the rotunda, sharing his time and hospitality for his 50-year class reunion, and attending numerous Scecina sporting events to support our students and families. 

“Tom is one of the most likeable people you could ever hope to meet,” said President Therber. “I know that I have grown as a person by knowing Tom and am grateful to call him a friend. “ 

Here are Griffin’s remarks at the Father Tom Mass: 

To the Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School family and friends, 

Mere words cannot adequately express how honored I feel in receiving this prestigious award. 

Sometimes we come to a point where we try to do just enough to get by. I don’t think Father Tom was ever tempted by that or if he was he quickly dismissed it. 

He originally decided he was called to serve God by becoming a parish priest – a worthy and necessary calling – but he decided to “do that little extra” and received permission to join the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps. He was assigned to the Philippines where his parishioners were the American and Filipino soldiers as well as Filipino civilians. 

After the surrender of the Philippines to the Japanese, he survived the infamous Bataan Death March. He continued to do that little extra a couple of years later by volunteering to accompany his fellow prisoners who were being transferred to Japan on the Arisan Maru. Let me stress again - he didn’t have to be on that ship, the Japanese did not require him to be on it, he volunteered so that he could continue to minister and offer spiritual guidance to his fellow prisoners - his parishioners. Through this gallant, selfless act, he gave his life providing a general absolution and hearing confessions on the sinking ship. 

Last year Father Tom was inducted into the Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame. His certificate of Induction as well the medals he was awarded are displayed in the main hall along with the bronze bust presented to his school by the veterans committee. These are to remind all who view them of what giving that little extra truly means. 

I pledge to continue trying to do that little extra to help Scecina Memorial where needed so as to honor Father Tom as well as past recipients of this award , named for him, who continue to bring glory to Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School. 

In conclusion I’ll see everyone at Lucas Oil Stadium the Saturday after Thanksgiving when the Crusaders will give that little extra to bring a State Championship trophy to add to the trophy case!

 

3 comments (Add your own)

1. wrote:
Congratulations old neighbor on your award. The Babcock’s.

Thu, November 9, 2017 @ 9:31 PM

2. McGraths wrote:
Thanks for all your work and dedication!

Fri, November 10, 2017 @ 8:17 PM

3. Jan Schmidt Burkhart '62 wrote:
I worked on the 55th reunion committee with Tom, and observed a small portion of Tom's involvement in Scecina's mission. I was pleased to read about Tom's award. He certainly deserved the recognition!

Sat, November 11, 2017 @ 8:48 AM

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