Tom Hannigan was a fixture in Manchester for nearly 40 years. He was the pastor of St. Catherine of Siena parish from 1971 until 2007, and he served his Church, his community, and most importantly, his flock well and faithfully for all of that time.
He’d been a priest for over 60 years, having been ordained in 1949. He served all over the state before being assigned to St. Catherine’s, and it was the place he made his home.
He was also someone I knew and a friend to many others in and around Manchester. I first met him in 1999 when I was involved in music ministry for the Diocese of Manchester. My late friend Mary Bagnell, who was the director of music for the Diocese back then, introduced me to him. Over about 4 or 5 years we would occasionally run into each other at various Diocesan functions. We talked about a lot of incidental stuff mostly, but often our conversations would turn toward a mutual friend of ours: my friend Fr. Don Gauthier. As I have considered Don to be a good friend for as long as I have known him, Tom was his mentor. When Don was a relatively young priest he served at St. Catherine’s during Tom’s lengthy tour as the pastor.
One of the things I remember most about Tom is his integrity and his willingness to stand up for those things that were important to both him and to his parishioners. I can recall an incident when my kids were younger that involved a zoning issue of some sort in the area of town where the parish church, rectory, and school are located. I don’t know now what the problem was, but it not only affected the parish property but it also affected many of the neighbors. In that area there are approximately 35 homes, and all of them would have been negatively impacted by this. Tom pretty much stood up single-handedly to the zoning board and made them rescind the proposal. It was a huge save for the neighborhood as well as for the parish he served.
Mostly, though, I fondly remember a really nice individual who happened to be a good priest.
He passed away this past Saturday. He’d been incredibly ill for quite some time, and he has been called home. And it was time for him to go.
Fair winds, Tom.
Monsignor Thomas Hannigan
July 20, 1924 – February 6, 2010
Priest of the Diocese of Manchester
Eternal Rest grant unto him, O Lord
And may Perpetual Light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace. Amen.