Services for Father Thomas E. Hanley, who died Jan. 6, will be held in Dover on Jan. 13.
A visitation will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Holy Cross Church, 631 S. State St., Dover, with Mass of Christian Burial to follow at noon. Interment will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery on North New Street in Dover. Masks are strongly encouraged.
Father Hanley was pastor of Holy Cross for 14 years until he suffered two strokes in 2002. Among his roles in the diocese was secretary in charge of Catholic Charities, where a young counselor at Siena Hall in Wilmington got to know him.
That counselor, Fritz Jones, is now the executive director of Catholic Charities. He recalled that Father Hanley lived in an apartment on the property at Siena Hall, which was located near the Delaware Art Museum. Siena Hall was a group home for youth that closed in 2003. Father Hanley would a frequent visitor at the residence, Jones recalled.
“He was just a magnet to the kids,” Jones said. “He would frequently, pretty much daily, just stop by to say hi.”
Jones said the priest was an avid fan of the Philadelphia 76ers professional basketball team. The pair went to a game at the Spectrum in the early 1980s, and on the way there, Father Hanley told Jones to refer to him as “Tom” once they arrived at the arena.
“He was a very animated spectator. Booing calls from the ref. I figured that’s why he didn’t want to be called ‘Father.’ That was a fun day,” Jones said.
He added that Father Hanley was a gifted homilist whose message got across. Jones said when the priest was pastor at St. Paul Parish in Wilmington, a battery was stolen from a parish van. During a homily that followed, Father Hanley mentioned that the battery should be returned. When the parish office opened that Monday, there were four new batteries outside the door.
“He was really engaging. He would often just come and chat, give guidance. He didn’t need to do that. Just a gentle, good, kind person,” Jones said.
Father Hanley is survived by two sisters and two brothers, Mary Parsons (William), Barbara Hanley, Richard Hanley and James Hanley (Mary). Father is also survived by several nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.
Donations in his name can be made to Holy Cross Parish.