Click coat of arms for details
Thomas is "Roman" seminary-trained and ordained in the Roman line of Apostolic Succession through the
Right Reverend James R. Judd, Bishop Ordinary of the Heartland Old Catholic Church. Msgr. Thomas was ordained a
deacon in 2001 and a priest in 2002.
In 2002 he was appointed pastor of Immaculate
Heart of Mary Old Catholic Church in Saint Paul,
MN, succeeding the parish's first pastor, Fr. Peter
Harrington. During Msgr. Thomas'
tenure, the young parish had several
milestones. These included its
first First Communion, the launch of its
website, and the introduction of
monastic-style seating during mass.
2005, after four years as pastor of the parish,
Msgr. Thomas founded his ministry of
social justice. In order to do
this and to continue his chaplaincy work
with the Ramsey County (Minnesota)
Sheriff's Department, Monsignor Thomas stepped down as pastor of
the parish. He continues to serve the
parish as Pastor Emeritus and as member
of its board of directors. He
celebrates mass at the parish on
Christmas and Easter and other times
during the year.
can read about Msgr. Thomas' social
justice ministry here.
His work as a sheriff's chaplain, which
earned him an award, is described later
on this page.
Line of Succession of The Right Reverend
James R. Judd.
Monsignor Thomas was ordained to the
priesthood through the Apostolic Line of
Succession of The Right Reverend James
Apostolic Succession is that
line of bishops that stretches back to Our Lord's calling of His
Apostles. It is from the Apostolic
Line of Succession that all
validly-ordained priests (be they Roman
Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, or
Old Catholic) have received their
priesthood and may administer the
sacraments. For most Roman
Catholic and Old Catholic bishops, the
written record of their Line can be
traced back to 1541. It is from this Line
that Msgr. Thomas received his
ordination to the priesthood.
Thomas' bishop is Bishop Judd,
who leads the Heartland Old
Catholic Church (an Old Catholic
community in the Midwest United
States). He ordained Msgr.
Thomas to the priesthood in
web page shows Bishop Judd's
Apostolic Line of Succession.
Thomas giving a homily during a wedding
||Msgr. Thomas is considered a delayed vocation because he comes to ordination later in life, after serving in several public service and private fields.
His history includes time as a law enforcement officer, as well as a civilian investigator in the areas of civil rights, animal welfare enforcement and training, victim advocacy, and paralegal investigations (civil and criminal).
Born in a small county seat in southern Minnesota, he went on to receive his BA from Drake University. He is a Vietnam-era veteran and
studied theology at Sacred Heart School of theology
in Hales Corners, Wisconsin and Washington Theological
Union in the District of Columbia.
Msgr. Thomas believes strongly in volunteerism within the community. His own service includes serving as a chaplain with the Ramsey County Sheriff's office. In this role he responds to police and fire emergencies as needed while on 24-hour on-call duty for a week at a time.
Thomas blesses a sheriff's water rescue
boat before it begins
its search and recovery of a student diver
lost during training, 2005.
The duty of a sheriff's chaplain is first to be a presence to and for the Sheriff's department personnel, both sworn deputies and civilian employees. That presence may include counseling, assisting at marriages, funerals,
and family crises.
In addition, the chaplain assists the public by providing death notifications as a lead member of the Sheriff's team, assisting families and individuals after catastrophic fires, and counseling fire personnel.
of the Year" awarded to Msgr.
Thomas by the Ramsey County (Minnesota)
Sheriff's Department in 2004.
The chaplain is a liaison with the Red Cross and the Salvation Army in major emergencies. Chaplains also stand ready to assist other fire and law enforcement branches in mutual aid or back-up outside Ramsey County, if requested.
Msgr. Bigelow has volunteered to assist
the Pro-Búsqueda program of El Salvador. Learn
Pro-Búsqueda's purpose is to locate
children who were orphaned and dispersed
during the brutal years of dictatorship
in El Salvador. Monsignor is using
his experience as a civilian investigator
to locate and contact such children (now
mostly adults) who were adopted by U.S.
families. If they wish, Monsignor
helps them re-establish ties with their
biological families in El Salvador.
Msgr. Thomas is the former and first Chief Investigator of Minnesota Federated Humane Societies, the statewide society given legislative authority to investigate and assist in animal abuse investigations for the state of Minnesota. For the last several years he has also worked with the Minnesota Fire Fighters Museum as a Fire Motor Operator, driving a 1969 Persch fire engine, designated
"MFD Spare One". He is currently the fire chaplain to
SPAAMFA, the antique fire apparatus society associated with the museum.
Below is Monsignor with his adopted son, Vinh X. Tranh.
In addition to two nephews and two nieces by blood, Msgr. Thomas is
an adopted uncle and great-uncle to thirteen children of his close friends who, according to Vietnamese custom, have adopted him as family. Dearest to his heart, he has been named "Grandpa #3" (another Vietnamese custom).
On March 18th, 2006, Monsignor was raised to
the sublime degree of Master Mason at Anoka
Lodge #30. With me are the Past Grand
Master of Minnesota Grand Lodge, WPM Rod Larson
(center) and Monsignor's fellow classmate, Ty
In the Fall of 2006, Monsignor Thomas attained
the 32nd Degree, Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction.
Congratulating him, right, is Jerry Oliver, Sovereign Grand Inspector, Minnesota Orient, Scottish Rite.
Also shown is the coat of arms of the 32nd
degree, Scottish Rite.
Below: Monsignor's new
best friend, Ella.
Below: A cowboy wedding 2015