PHILADELPHIA – Thomas Ennis, OFM, 85, a professed Franciscan friar for 54 years, died on Feb. 29 at St. Ignatius Nursing Home where he had lived since last year.
A Memorial Mass was celebrated at 10:30 a.m. on March 5 at St. Anthony Church in Butler, New Jersey. Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, presided and Patrick Sieber, OFM, preached.
Thomas was born on July 6, 1934, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, to Harvey and Bernette (née Lesher). He attended Williamsport High School and then, after working at both a baked goods company and a men’s clothing store, spent several years in the United States Navy, stationed in Cuba, Florida, and South Carolina.
In 1964, Thomas was received into the Order of Friars Minor in Lafayette, New Jersey. He professed his first vows as a Franciscan on July 15, 1965, at the novitiate in Lafayette and his final vows on July 5, 1969, in Williamsport before David Hyman, OFM.
Thomas spent much of his religious life caring for those in need. After his profession, he was assigned to Holy Name College in Washington, D.C., where he worked in the refectory, the friars’ dining room. After spending a year at St. Francis College in Rye Beach, New Hampshire, he was assigned to St. Bonaventure University in Western New York from 1968 to 1979 as assistant infirmarian at the Provincial infirmary. From 1979 to 1980, he lived in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he helped care for the elderly at St. Anthony Friary.
Thomas moved to Philadelphia in 1980 and worked at the Province’s St. Francis Inn soup kitchen until his retirement. In 2006, he was assigned to Holy Name Friary, the Province’s skilled nursing facility in Ringwood, New Jersey, and in early 2019, when the Province closed Holy Name Friary, he was transferred to St. Ignatius Nursing Home.
He had been a member of the Knights of Columbus and was a devotee of Padre Pio. Thomas is survived by a sister-in-law, Dorothy Ennis, and a niece, Theresa, of Wysox, Pennsylvania.
Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars – Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001-3202.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.
- “Thomas Ennis Marks 50 Years as a Friar” – Feb. 27, 2015, HNP Today
- “After 30 Years of Operation, Ringwood Skilled Nursing Facility Will Close” – Jan. 9, 2019, HNP Today