11.12.2010

Beloved Monsignor Thomas F. Campion Passes Away

Grieving Community Reflects on 53 Years of Exemplary Service

Monsignor Thomas Francis Campion passed away in his sleep on Thursday night, according to Madison diocese officials. Campion, 79, was well known in the Monroe and Madison area for his work helping the disabled, young and elderly—and for his weekly mass aired on WISC-TV 3. Hundreds of grieving admirers, friends and family are reflecting on his 53 years of dedication.

Since 1967, Campion was the founder and director of the Apostolate for the Handicapped , a ministry devoted to assisting the disabled. Over the last 44 years, Campion broadcast more than 2200 Sunday masses and also worked as a chaplain at Monroe Clinic since 1971.

With his quick smile and wit, Thomas Campion was well known for his passion, unparalleled humor and unconditional love for all. His goal in all endeavors was to touch those of all faiths, especially “those who live on the margins of society – sometimes the unwanted, sometimes the unloved, sometimes the forgotten."

Thousands, both young and old, have been part of his "Campion's Champions" cause. In the church hierarchy, he was officially regarded as Monsignor. But in his community of “Campion’s Champions” he was lovingly called "T.C."

Undoubtedly the biggest fan of youth sports, Monsignor Campion was a dedicated fixture at games and events. Getting young people interested in volunteering was one of his many specialties. With "Campion's Champions" proudly displayed on their T-shirts, there was never a shortage of kids to help set up tables, push wheelchairs or participate in the televised “Apostolate to the Handicapped” mass.

Mike Sanders, CEO of Monroe Clinic, said although Campion is gone, he will never be forgotten. “Like many others, I feel lucky that I had the chance to know him. He made a positive impact on everyone he met. He had an amazing sense of humor and was just plain fun to be around. If you want to point to a truly remarkable life of service, point to his,” said Sanders, adding, “Even when he was very sick, he did not stop doing all he could to care for our community.”

Campion led several events for the disabled, including the Spring Day and Christmas Party in Monroe and the Day in the Dells each August. Many times, attendance at an event has been well over 1,000. Close friend and apostolate coordinator Ellen Marti assures everyone that the December 4th Christmas Program* will still be held this year. She said, “That’s what Father Campion would have wanted.”

 

More service highlights:
  • Presented the “Hometown Hero Award” by the Wisconsin State Assembly for 50 years of service
  • Received the State of Wisconsin Certificate of Commendation presented by Governor Tommy Thompson
  • Twice named Madison Magazine’s “Clergyman of the Year”
  • Named Prelate of Honor (Monsignor) by Pope John Paul II - August 2000
  • Spoke in Rome at the Vatican - Commission on Disabled Persons - October 1992
  • Other assignments included: Diocesan Catholic Youth Organization Director, teacher at Edgewood and Beloit Catholic High Schools, Chaplain at Madison General Hospital. Parish associations with St. Mary’s in Portage; St. Bernard’s and St. James’s in Madison; St. Jude’s in Beloit, and St. Victor’s in Monroe.

*The Annual Apostolate to the Handicapped's Christmas Party is scheduled for Saturday, December 4th, 2010 at Monroe Senior High School. This year’s theme is "Heal our Bruises". Registrations are due by Thursday, November 18th. Call 608-328-8371or email campionschampions@tds.net for information.

Visitation is scheduled for Friday, November 26 from 2 to 8 p.m. at Monroe High School with the Funeral Mass on Saturday, November. 27 at 10 a.m. also at the Monroe High School.