Thomas Plassmann, OFM
1879 – 1959
Fr. Thomas Plassmann, OFM, was born March 19, 1879 in Avenwedde, Germany. At age 15, he left Germany for America, where he began his studies at Quincy College, Ill. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees before entering the future Holy Name Province in Paterson, N.J., in 1898. He professed temporary vows one year later, made his solemn profession in 1902 and was ordained in 1906, having already obtained his doctorate from The Catholic University, Washington.
Fr. Thomas served on the faculty at St. Bonaventure College, Allegany, N.Y., for more than 45 years and was president for 29 years. He was a brilliant and dedicated Franciscan who placed his many talents and all his energies at the service of Holy Name Province for 60 years, including three years as Provincial Minister from 1949 to 1952. He then assumed the post of rector of Christ the King Seminary, Allegany, N.Y.
His vast erudition reached far beyond the confines of the classroom to impact countless people through his lectures, retreats, articles, books and radio talks. He contributed 15 articles on medieval personalities for the Catholic Encyclopedia. He spoke and read Hebrew, Syriac, Latin, Greek, Ethiopic, German, Italian, Spanish and flawless English. Thomas Merton, in his Seven Story Mountain, referred to Fr. Tom as the “picture of benevolence,” while Cardinal Richard Cushing called him “one of the greatest priests of our generation.”
He died on Feb. 13, 1959 in Olean, N.Y. Fr. Tom was 79 years old, a professed friar for 59 years and a priest for 52 years.