Fr. Thomas Long, CSV, quietly celebrated his 50th jubilee this summer at
the Provincial Assembly, among the Viatorians associates, brothers and professed in attendance.
He was ordained to the priesthood on May 17, 1969, but it was his seminary years that remain a searing memory. Fr. Long and his classmates were studying at the Viatorian seminary in 1968 in Washington DC, when they were living witnesses to the fires and riots that broke out after Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. “We were firsthand witnesses to the deep divide in our country,” Fr. Long says.
Thus, his lifelong commitment to social justice was born. Fr. Long taught at Bishop McNamara and Alleman high schools, before going into parish work. He was an associate pastor at St. Viator Parish in Chicago and left in 1984 to become the founding pastor of St. Thomas More Catholic Community, located in Henderson, NV.
In 1994, Fr. Long earned his master’s degree in social work and spent the next nine years in California working with members of the HIV/Aids community, with the homeless and administrating a recovery program.
When he returned to the Viatorian Province Center in 2003, Fr. Long became involved in the Viatorians’ communications efforts. He continues to edit both its external and internal newsletters.
But he also serves in nearly one dozen social justice initiatives, mostly dedicated to accompanying immigrants and working toward immigration reform.
His commitment can be seen every month, when he drives 60 miles from Chicago to Kankakee to pray with detained immigrants at the Jerome Combs Detention Center, being deported that day.