The Four Prior Brothers Enjoy Reunion in Heaven
Not many families can claim to have four sons as priests. Now, Bayonne Boys as they were known, are reunited in heaven. Fr. Tom Prior was preceded by a few months by his brother Jim.
They had so much in common. All the Prior brothers at some time taught on the Faculty at St. John’s Preparatory High School in Brooklyn. Perhaps most significant in their eyes, they were all rabid Yankee fans. More than on confrere wondered whether the Yankees loss in the playoff was due to the absence of their number one fans.
Fr. Tom served in several ministries, including St. Vincent’s parish mission school in Panama, St. Thomas More High School (Archdiocese of Philadelphia), and St.John’s Preparatory School in Queens, New York. He and his brothers were so loved and appreciated by the school community that students affectionately referred to the school as Priors’ Prep.
Ron King, SJP ’65, writes fondly, “Fr. Tom Prior was my senior year American History teacher. His conservative political philosophy was ever in evidence and I think of him often, … Although I have spent a lifetime ( 40 years) arguing against his point of view both, as labor union advocate and staff director, I never lost my respect for Fr. Thomas Prior as man and priest.
Years later, he became part of the Miraculous Medal Novena Band for 28 years, traveling the eastern United States giving novenas in honor of the Blessed Mother. For the last 14 years of this ministry, he was stationed at St. John’s University in Queens, New York.
Fr. Tom joined the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel parish community about two decades ago, serving as an assistant pastor alongside Fr. Jim. The brothers enjoy living and working harmoniously in their parochial duties. Additionally, they ministered to the sick in six regional hospitals and four nursing homes. When Fr. Tom joined Fr. Jim at Our Lady, fellow priests questioned how well they would get along working together. For them, it was never a problem.
Father Tom believed “there are many factors that attracted us to the Vmcentian ministry, but I think the most important ones are the confrere support in a communal atmosphere, and the many and varied types of ministries we can serve whether it be parish work, global missions, or teaching.”
“Mom went to mass every day of her life;’ says Fr. Tom, son number four. “She would take all five of us with her to church every day, and then walk us across the street to school. From this early start, mass and devotion to religious life became influential aspects of our lives:’
They agree their parents set the stage for he and his brothers becoming priests by cultivating a strong, holy familial environment and strict observance to Catholicism. When asked why they chose to follow a Vincentian vocation, their answer aligns with that of St. Vincent’s mission.
Fr. Steve Grozio, Provincial of the Eastern Province, aptly noted in his homily that three things summed up Fr. Tom – faith, family, and fidelity. Of course, Bishop Schlarb commented before the final blessing that he was also a fanatic baseball fan. he Yankees now have a powerful intercessor!
For more background on his life visit a recent reflection in the semi-annual publication of the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal.