Home Obituaries Funeral services set for Father Thomas A. Flowers, 73, retired diocesan priest,...

Funeral services set for Father Thomas A. Flowers, 73, retired diocesan priest, longtime pastor; Mass livestreamed April 26 at noon

Father Thomas A. Flowers

Father Thomas A. Flowers, a priest of the Diocese of Wilmington for more than 46 years, died April 17. He was 73.

Father Flowers was a longtime pastor until his retirement in 2020. He was also the state chaplain for the Columbiettes.

A memorial Mass is scheduled for at St. Jude the Apostle Church, 152 Tulip Drive, Lewes, on April 25 at 6:30 p.m. The Mass of Christian Burial is April 26 at noon St. Elizabeth Church, Cedar and Clayton street, Wilmington, and burial will be in All Saints Cemetery in Wilmington. The funeral Mass will be live-streamed on the Diocese of Wilmington’s YouTube channel.

St. Jude was Father Flowers’ last assignment before he retired. St. Elizabeth was his home parish.

A native of Wilmington, Father Flowers attended St. Elizabeth, Carrie Downey and Richardson Park schools before graduating from St. Elizabeth High School. He was ordained to the priesthood on Oct. 1, 1977, at St. Elizabeth. He was associate pastor at St. Hedwig and St. Catherine of Siena, both in Wilmington; and St. John the Baptist-Holy Angels, Newark.

He was named pastor of St. Hedwig in 1987, and five years later he was appointed to St. Joseph Parish in Middletown. He also was pastor of St. Polycarp Parish, Smyrna, and St. Jude the Apostle, where he served from 2015 until his retirement.

In addition, Father Flowers served as chaplain to the Pulaski Legion and the Americans of Polish Descent Cultural Society. He was the liaison for Charismatic Renewal and a member of the Priests’ Continuing Education Committee, the Catholic Board of Education and the diocesan Pastoral Council.

Father Flowers was pastor at St. Joseph’s in Middletown while the parish was raising money to build its new church, although he left before construction started. During his tenure, which ran from 1992-2002, the parish stopped offering Sunday Mass at the original church because of overcrowding and moved all services to the parish hall.

In addition to his clerical duties and chaplaincies, Father Flowers was once the president of the Old Bohemia Historical Society, the first clergyman to hold the post. He was elected in 1993, a year after his arrival as pastor at St. Joseph. The parish includes Old Bohemia in its 500 square miles.

Father Flowers earned a degree in history from the University of Delaware. He was a member of the National World War II Memorial Society and the Normandy Memorial Project. He was a life member of the Republican National Committee.

Several former parishioners and friends left messages online after his death.

“Father Flowers was an inspiration to me, and I thank him for his ability to speak the truth and provide hope when so many others did not seem to have his courage and wisdom,” Patrice Pikulsky.

“He was the most altruistic person that I have known,” wrote Sue Comorat. “He visited my mother, gave her last rites and did her funeral Mass. My family was and always will be grateful to Father Tom. His words to her and his kindness gave my mother peace.”

He was proud of his Polish heritage. His mother was the former Emily Kowalski, and his father’s name originally was Anthony Kwiatkowski. The family changed its name to “Flowers” when the priest was a youngster; “kwiat” is Polish for flower.

He visited Poland several times, including in the early 1980s when the formerly Communist country was struggling with food shortages and other strife. Father Flowers raised money for the Polish people through various fundraisers.

At St. Polycarp, Father Flowers oversaw the completion of the Family Life Center and the renovation of Mother Drexel Hall and the rectory. The parish opened a preschool and kindergarten during his time there.

He was an honorary fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus and served as chaplain of the Brother Vincent Council. He was also a member of Priests for Life.

He is survived by an uncle, Stanley Kay, and a nephew Thomas Barnhart, as well as several cousins.