[This article first appeared in the Winter issue of the Oracle 2020]
Father Tom Margevičius is an instructor of Liturgical Theology and Homiletics at The Saint Paul Seminary. He is also the Director of Worship for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. And, he is an ornithologist, aka a birdwatcher. It’s this latter role that refreshes him in order to better fulfill the first two.
Born and raised in the inner city of Cleveland, Ohio, birdwatching was an unlikely hobby. To escape life on the streets, the young Tom and his older brother, Tony, spent a lot of time in a nearby city park. He built a bird feeder for his backyard and, when he was 12 years old, used his paper route money to buy his first set of binoculars. A lifelong hobby was born.
In ninth grade, Father Tom entered a high school seminary in Cleveland; within a year it closed and he transferred to another Catholic high school, yet never stopped thinking about the priesthood. The love of birds continued too, and he earned his Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Management at West Virginia University. Yet, even after “Ranger Tom” took a job as an Interpretive Naturalist with the Ohio State Parks, the call of the priesthood lingered.
In 1984, he left his park job for missionary work with NET Ministries in Minnesota. “As much as I liked telling people about birds, I would rather tell them about Jesus Christ,” he reasoned. He then served with St. Paul’s Outreach and joined the Companions of Christ, a fraternity of diocesan priests and seminarians in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. These all eventually led him to The Saint Paul Seminary where he re-discerned God’s ultimate call for him.
Ordained in 1999, Father Tom still finds his avocation to be a perfect complement to his vocation, a place where science and theology cooperate to advance God’s plan. Whether he’s accompanying seminarians in the Holy Land or lay students in Costa Rica, Father Tom always has a pair of binoculars nearby.
Today, the walls of his office at the seminary are lined floor to ceiling with books on theology, Church History, and Sacred Scripture to guide his work with men in formation. Outside his office window are several well-stocked bird feeders where this faithful priest and avid ornithologist watches over his other flock. Fiery Throated Hummingbird. Photo credit: Ronald Majors.