The Very Reverend Father Thomas James Derito Smith, retired priest of the Diocese of Norwich, Connecticut, went to our Lord, on Friday, October 22, 2021. A native of Derry, Pennsylvania, Father Tom was born on August 27,1953 to the late Harry Earl and Sophia Anna (Derito) Smith. He was baptized into the Roman Catholic faith by Father Thomas A. Connors, V.F. He had been a priest for 39 years. His primary and secondary education was received at the Derry Area School District of Western Pennsylvania. Father Tom had his calling to become a priest at a very young age playing “church” with his siblings and cousins in their yard on Second Avenue in Derry. He began his studies for the priesthood at Saint Joseph Hall Minor Seminary, Greensburg, Pennsylvania. In his younger years, he was a member of the Derry Volunteer Fire Department and the Derry VFD Drum and Bugle Corps. Father Tom had a deep, operatic voice that could lead any chorus. He had also participated in the Derry Area High School musicals and was a self-taught organist. Upon graduation, he entered Holy Apostles College Seminary, Cromwell, Connecticut, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy and a minor in Theology in 1976. He completed his studies for the priesthood at Mount Saint Mary Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland, earning a Masters Degree of Divinity in 1982. Father Tom was ordained to the Priesthood in the Cathedral of Saint Patrick, Norwich, Connecticut on Saturday, May 22, 1982, by His Excellency the Most Reverend Daniel Patrick Reilly of Norwich; followed by his first Mass in the Church of Saint Mary, Norwich on Sunday, May 23, 1982. Father Tom returned home for the following weekend to celebrate a First Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving for his family and friends in his hometown of Derry, Pennsylvania in Saint Martin Church, New Derry, Pennsylvania. After ordination, Father Tom was appointed a Parochial Vicar; Chaplain, Teacher and Student Counselor and Temporary Administrator to various parishes, thereafter receiving his first pastorate. Father Tom was named pastor of Saint Ignatius of Loyola Church, Rogers, Saint Joseph Church, Dayville, Saint Mary Star of the Sea Church, New London, and Saint Sebastian Italian National Parish, Middletown all in Connecticut. He served on the Norwich Diocesan Finance Council, the Bishop’s Advisory Board for the Capital Campaign Fund Drive for Parochial Schools, the Diocesan “Response of Faith” Capital Campaign Executive PAC Committee, the Diocesan Schools Committee on Preschool Education, the Diocesan Ad Hoc Committee on Medical Insurance, Budget Finance Committee, Diocesan Moderator of the Stella Maris Chapter of the Catholic Nurses Association. Father Smith was the Dean / Vicar Forane of the New London Deanery and Dean / Vicar Forane of the Middletown Deanery. Father Tom is a 4th Degree member of the Murrysville/Trafford Assembly #2192 of the Knights of Columbus, Murrysville, Pennsylvania. As a Knight, he has been a Faithful Friar and Chaplain to various K of C Assemblies and Councils throughout the Diocese of Norwich. Father Founded the Knights of Columbus Council in Dayville/Rogers Connecticut. He presently is a member of Manordale Valley Council #4226 of Murrysville. Father Tom is a senior member of the Derry Volunteer Fire Department, Past Chaplain of the New London County Sheriff’s Department, member of the Board of Directors of the Shea Fund of New London, and the Covenant Shelter of New London. He is also present and past Chaplain of many various fraternal organizations and church related societies and organizations. Father Tom was a member of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. Father Tom served as a prison chaplain in the Archdiocese of New York for the Department of Corrections for the State of New York at five of its Correctional Facilities until his appointment to the faculty of Mount Saint Mary Seminary Emmitsburg, Maryland on August 15, 2011, in the formation of seminarians where he served as a member of the faculty. He taught homiletics and pastoral theology, Formation Advisor and Assistant Spiritual Director, he also served there for a period of time as spiritual moderator/chaplain of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes and with campus ministry at Mount Saint Mary’s University. Church festivals were one of his favorite pastimes, whether it was organizing great festivals or attending the fun. He loved spending time with the community, having pierogies and listening to polkas. Every Sunday he would put on the polka station or look to attend a polka fest if there wasn’t a Steeler game on television. Father Tom was not only Father of the churches he served but a father figure to his family and friends. He continued friendships from afar though the miles may have kept family and friends physically distant. He loved family gatherings, picnics, holidays, and watching his niece and nephew play baseball and softball. When he couldn’t attend, he was always calling, or checking facebook and instagram to see how his family was doing. You couldn’t find a man more proud of his family. His laughter was contagious. You couldn’t help but smile when you heard his deep bellowing laugh. Father Tom was a very serious man when he needed to be but making one happy was where he found joy. One could always expect to see a funny story or joke in their in-box followed by a prayer from Father Tom. History was a favorite topic of Father Toms. He had a deep respect for our country, the military, our leaders and went to many parades showing his admiration. Father Tom retired to Gables Manor, Latrobe, where he continued to serve daily mass to the residents, staff and joining families. He counseled, listened, gave advice and prayed until his very last moments. Father Tom is survived by his brother: Harry Earl Smith, Jr. of Apollo, Pennsylvania; his sisters: MaryAnn Smith Kelly and her husband, Andrew of The Villages, Florida and Joanne Eleanor Smith Bernabei of Derry, Pennsylvania. Four Nieces and three Nephews survive him: Teresa Ann Kelly Romanchak and her husband Joseph; Tina Marie Kelly Romano Marzolf and her husband Dana; Todd Andrew Kelly and his wife, Jennifer; Harry Earl Smith, III and his wife Tamara; Melissa Marie Smith Krebs and her husband Cory; Nicole Marie Bernabei Doherty and her husband Nathan, and Nathan Michael Bernabei. Father has four Great Nieces and nine Great Nephews that survive him: Kelly Sophia Romano, Emily May Smith, Lauren Marie Krebs and Sophia Elizabeth Doherty, Anthony Michael Romano, Matthew Joseph Romano, Andrew Joseph Romanchak, Austin Michael Romanchak, Lucas Michael Smith, Jack William Krebs, Maximilian Smith Doherty, Mark Douglas Krebs and Brandon Kelly. He is also survived by his extended family and long life friends, Michael J. and Annette Ellenberger Quinlisk and their family formerly of Derry Pennsylvania. He is preceded in death by his parents: Harry Earl Smith Sr. & Sophia Ann Derito, his maternal grandparents and godparents; Silvio & Fernanda Derito, his paternal grandparents Earl & Jennie Bowers, his brother-in-law; Mario J. Bernabei, and his sister-in-law Patricia Ann Prah Smith, his mentor and dearest friend; Reverend Father Method J. Mraz, O.S.B. of Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pennsylvania and formerly pastor of St. Martin Church, New Derry, Pennsylvania, also the best dalmatian and companion, Trent. Father Tom had written a passage in his ordination acknowledgements that remains to carry deep sentiments; “Lastly, I thank the Good Lord of Heaven for giving me the gift of faith, the gift of the Holy Priesthood, and the gift of all of you I pledge to you my prayers, support, love, Masses, good works, sacrifices, and my heart always. Yours in Christ now and always, Father Tom” FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS Family, Relatives and friends are invited to celebrate Father Tom's life at Catholic Funeral Mass, on Saturday, November 27, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. at the St. Louise Chapel, 8200 McKnight Road, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15237. The family would like to thank the staff and residents at Gables Manor in Latrobe for caring for him in his last days. We know he felt they too were his family. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Matthew X. Merlin Funeral Home Inc., 529 N Chestnut St, Derry, PA 15627. Additional services and burial will be in the Family Plot at Saint Joseph Cemetery, Derry, Pennsylvania.
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