History is the study of the past with special attention to the written records of humanity over time. History attempts to understand why certain events turned out the way they did. History studies the causal nature of mankind. We live and write our own history everyday. Someday someone will look back on our history and discover who we were, and what was important to us. George Santayana said it best: "Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it." The following is the history of St. Thomas More and the history of the Church named after him.
ST. THOMAS MORE -- OUR PATRON SAINT
Saint Thomas More is the Patron Saint of our parish community. He is also the Patron Saint of Lawyers. Thomas More was born in London in 1478. His family recognized his intellectual ability. Early on he excelled in his studies. His major interests were religion and the classics. Upon completing his degree he entered Oxford University to study law.
He spent most of his early life working on a legal career. Later he was elected to Parliament where he applied his legal expertise to matters of the state. He was married to Jane Colt in 1505. They had four children. Jane died early in their marriage. Thomas More later married Alice Middleton.
He became a most respected lawyer and his circle of friends included other scholars and bishops. His thoughts and writings influenced not only his friends but drew attention to other scholars of the time. His influence continued to grow and he published his most famous book, “Utopia,” in 1516. Soon Thomas More attracted the attention of King Henry VIII.
King Henry enjoyed the company of Thomas More and quickly promoted him to several high positions in the government. Thomas More was appointed Chancellor in 1529. He worked in that position until 1532 when he resigned. He left government at the height of his career because he disagreed with the King over the King’s position regarding divorce and remarriage, as well as, the supremacy of the Pope. Thomas More continued to defend the Church against the influence of the King.
Thomas More spent the remainder of his life writing in defense of the Catholic Church. King Henry had Thomas More and his good friend, John Fisher, arrested in 1534. The King demanded allegiance from both Fisher and More. They both refused to give their allegiance to the King to be the Head of the Church of England. Fisher and More were arrested, put on trial, and found guilty. They were tried as traitors and condemned to death. They were imprisoned in the Tower of London. Thomas More was executed nine days after the execution of John Fisher.
Thomas More told the court that he could not go against his conscience when it came to matters of the Church and the King. He told his judges that, “We may yet, hereafter in heaven, merrily all meet together and enjoy everlasting life.”
He told the crowd of spectators at his execution that he was dying as “the King’s good servant – but God’s first.” He was beheaded on July 6, 1535. We celebrate his feast day on June 22nd.
HISTORY OF OUR CHURCH
St. Thomas More Parish officially came into being June 19, 1963 by the decree of Cardinal John Dearden. Approximately 350 families, assigned to St. Thomas More from Holy Name in Birmingham and St. Hugo of the Hills in Bloomfield Hills, became its first members. Reverend William L. Anderson became the first pastor.
The first Masses were held at Eastover School in Bloomfield Township. The groundbreaking ceremonies for St. Thomas More took place on June 30, 1963 – the first Catholic Church in Troy.
The early structure was called “temporary” because it was intended to be a school. As time went by, the temporary became permanent. In 1978 the renovations got underway to provide a narthex and a community hall. The temporary building began to look more like a Church.
The parish continued to grow into the early eighties. The population grew gradually from 350 families to approximately 650-700 families in the early 80’s. Sunday had three scheduled Masses and life was good.
Father Anderson was tragically killed in an automobile accident on August 28, 1984. His funeral was on September 1st. The parish community mourned their pastor and leader. He started the parish with very few families. Father Anderson instilled in the people a sense of family and a sense of community. He championed education for both adults and children. Father Anderson stressed that everyone had something to offer in praise of God.
Father Edward Belczak was appointed pastor in October of that year. He was installed as pastor on November 3, 1984. Life would never be the same. The end of the recession and the building surge in Troy propelled the number of families joining St. Thomas More.
It soon became apparent that the parish needed new facilities. Consultation with the various committees and advice from the Archdiocese helped to foster recognition that an expansion was necessary. In 1990 a 25,000 square foot expansion was added. This addition included offices, classrooms, and a social hall. By 1990 the total parish population swelled to 1900 families. An extra Mass was added on Sunday to alleviate the crowded conditions.
The community continued to grow as people settled into what was once vacant land in Troy. Homes were built everywhere and the population surged. The Church was closed in 1997 for a two and a half year renovation of our worship space. We reopened the Church in November of 1999. The renovation addressed three major issues: lack of light, poor sound, and needed space.
The Life, Passion, Death, and Resurrection became the theme of the newly renovated worship space. Many artists and selected materials from all over the world helped to enhance a beautiful worship area. The painful waiting was over and the joyful celebration had just begun. St. Thomas More now had 2550 families.
Several more enhancements have been added to St. Thomas More over the years. We now have a bell tower and a canopy on the west side of the Church. The social hall, classrooms, and office space has recently been renovated. Everything is new, bright, and beautiful. Everything has been paid for and we are debt free. The most amazing part of all of this is that it was done without a fund raiser. How? Stewardship is the answer!
Monsignor John Zenz was appointed the temporary Parish Administrator of St. Thomas More in January of 2013, awaiting the appointing of a new pastor. The search was finally over in November of 2015, and with much joy and anticipation, Monsignor Thomas Rice was installed as St. Thomas More’s third pastor on February 28, 2015. Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron officiated over the ceremony and a gala reception was enjoyed by all.