It is with no small blend of sadness mixed with gratitude and joy that the Augustinian Province of St. Augustine in California announces the death of our brother, Rev. Thomas W. Behan O.S.A. After several years of ill health and a series of recent bouts with pneumonia, Fr. Tom died at Sharp Hospital in San Diego on July 3, 2019.
Fr. Tom (or Beanie as he was commonly called by many of his friends) was born in Staten Island, New York on July 30, 1932 to Virginia (Rasmussen) Behan and Thomas W. Behan, Sr. Fr. Tom was predeceased by his parents and one brother (John E. Behan,) and two sisters (Virginia Behan Mills and Barbara Behan Merrell.) The Behan family practiced their faith at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in New Dorp, Staten Island, where Tom attended parochial school. He attended New Dorp High School until his senior year when Tom entered the Augustinian Academy (Staten Island) as a student postulant for the Order of St. Augustine.
In late summer of 1950, Tom entered the Augustinian novitiate in New Hamburg, New York and professed religious vows in 1951. From 1951 to 1955 Tom studied at St. Mary’s Hall at Villanova University, where he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1954 he professed solemn vows as a religious. From 1955-59 he was a theology student in Rome, where he was ordained a deacon in May of 1958. On September 20th of that same year, he was ordained a priest by Archbishop Aloysius Traglia at St. Marcellus Church in Rome.
It is natural that, serving as a faithful priest for sixty years, Fr. Tom would have a number of fruitful ministerial assignments. They include: Msgr. Bonner High School (Philadelphia) and St. Augustine’s Church (Troy, New York.) It was in Troy that he also was named confessor of the Augustinian novices in New Hamburg, New York. In 1968, he changed affiliation from the province in Villanova to the newly established province in California. There his assignments included Our Mother of Good Counsel Church (Los Angeles) for three different periods, St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Ojai, CA (1973-77,) St. Patrick’s in San Diego (1977-85,) Our Lady of Grace in Castro Valley, CA (1990-2003,) and to the St. Augustine monastery community beginning in 2010, where he served as Director of the Augustinian Guild for a number of years.
The last four years of his life, Fr. Tom was blessed to be a resident of Nazareth House in San Diego, where he curried the favor of all staff members and unabashedly played his television and music CD’s so loud they seemed to be heard miles away. Beanie was a lover of music --- especially opera and had professional singing training for over thirty years. This, combined with his excellent talent as a photographer displaying his world travels, and being the number one fan of Dodgers baseball, made him an interesting person to whom countless people gravitated. But anyone who knew him was keenly aware that his greatest gift was that of being a wonderful Augustinian priest who cared about others and was ever-thrilled to serve the Lord.
A mass for Fr. Behan will be celebrated at St. Patrick’s Church in San Diego (3585 30th St.) on Tuesday morning, July 9th at 10:30. This will be preceded by the recitation of the rosary at the same church at 10:00.
Please remember in your prayers Fr. Behan, the Augustinian family, Fr. Tom’s relatives, the Nazareth House staff and residents, as well as all of his friends and former parishioners.