||Msgr. Thomas A. Campion
MONROE -- In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called his followers to live the Beatitudes in showing mercy and love to others.
“Love must be seen as our motivating force and our reason to reach out in Jesus’ name to help others,” said Bishop William H. Bullock, bishop emeritus of Madison, in his homily at the Mass of Christian Burial for Msgr. Thomas A. Campion on November 27 in the Monroe High School gymnasium.
Example of care
Monsignor Campion lived the Beatitudes in his life, observed Bishop Bullock. “His own clear and shining example of care for the handicapped, along with his weekly Sunday televised Mass for over 40 years, stands on its own,” said Bishop Bullock. “He was generous to the last drop of his energy, to the last day of his earthly life.”
Monsignor Campion, 79, died peacefully at his home in Monroe on November 12. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Madison in 1957. In 1967, Bishop Cletus F. O’Donnell asked him to be director of a new diocesan Apostolate to the Handicapped.
Monsignor Campion served as director of the apostolate until his death. He celebrated the first weekly television Mass on WISC-TV, Channel 3, on December 3, 1967, and continued to celebrate the Mass each week.
“Our hearts mourn in sorrow for the loss we feel for the man, the priest, and faithful servant that Msgr. Thomas Campion was,” said Bishop Bullock. “Yet we gather joyfully to celebrate his life as a disciple of Jesus, a prelate of the Church of which he was most proud, and a staunch protector of life for the handicapped.”
Tradition in Monroe
Bishop Bullock added, “How fitting it is on this Saturday following Thanksgiving that we borrow the location for today’s celebration from the long tradition of the annual Mass and Christmas Party in this very gymnasium at Monroe High School, as we will do one week from today.”
An “army” of volunteers called “Campion’s Champions” helped put on the annual event in Monroe. Some people wore t-shirts at the funeral Mass which said on the back, “Never Forget Monsignor Thomas Campion.”
“Here as we continue our prayers of thanks to God for all that he has done for us in Christ, let us also join in prayer for Monsignor Campion, who showed his thanks to God by his life of selfless and dedicated service,” said Bishop Bullock.
The bishop greeted members of Monsignor Campion’s family, including his sister Theresa Bier and her five children and sister-in-law Helen Campion and her seven children, along with 28 great-nieces and nephews.
Tribute from his nephew
One of his nephews, Tom Campion (named after his uncle), talked about his namesake before the Mass. He quipped, “He liked funerals better than weddings because they’re more permanent.”
His nephew said the three main things Monsignor Campion loved were his family, being a priest, and the community of Monroe.
About his family, Campion said the priest was present at every holiday. “He brought a lot of joy and laughter” with him, he noted.
“He loved being a priest,” he said, pointed to the Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken,” which Monsignor Campion liked to quote. “He took the road less traveled and devoted his life to the handicapped,” he said.
Of the Monroe community he said, “Monroe was not his second family — it tied for first.”
A la David Letterman, Campion gave 10 impacts on the death of Monsignor Campion, including: less business at the Monroe Post Office (the priest sent many cards and letters), an open seat at Monroe High School games (which the priest attended faithfully), Channel 3’s Sunday ratings will fall, and the TC1 license plate will be retired.
“TC1 may be lost, but if all of us here contribute, we can carry on his great spirit and love of those in need,” said his nephew.
There were over 30 priests and over 30 young servers involved in the Mass. The servers were acolytes on the Channel 3 weekly Mass.
Fr. Mike Klarer, pastor of St. Victor Parish in Monroe, was once a volunteer in the Apostolate to the Handicapped.
He also spoke before the Mass, saying, “Like all of you, I lost a close friend and loving brother. He changed my life, your life, and this community.
“Pray for him this day. Thanks be to God we had the gift for 79 years of Thomas Francis Campion.”
Readers at the Mass were Mary Kay Bier, Nick Bowdish, and Mitch Quade.
The Madison Diocesan Choir directed by Dr. Patrick Gorman were ministers of music, along with Randy Gracyalny, Kevin Laufenberg, and Glenn Schuster.