Published March 19, 2009
Known as Father Tom, the priest’s ministry spanned 64 years with more than half of his time in the Atlanta area.
After the premature deaths of his parents, he spent part of his youth in an orphanage and then, while being raised by relatives, attended Catholic schools in eastern Pennsylvania, graduating in 1935 from Allentown Catholic High School. He took his first vows as a Marist in 1938 and was ordained a priest in 1944 in Washington, D.C. Father Tom particularly enjoyed history, earning a master’s degree in the subject from Catholic University of America in Washington.
He served many years as parish priest and pastor at the Marist parishes of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., as well as at Holy Family Church, Richwood, West Va. In the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Father Tom served as parochial vicar at St. Joseph Church, Marietta, and Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Atlanta.
Father Tom served in many Marist secondary schools for nearly 20 years, including schools in Penndel, Pa., Bedford, Ohio, and Marist High School in Atlanta. A sports fan, he was an avid follower of Notre Dame and Marist athletes. He also coached baseball, basketball and tennis.
In 1994 he retired to the Marist Fathers’ residence at Marist School. A gregarious priest, Father O’Donnell was said to be never happier than when with people and engaged in conversation or instruction.
The funeral Mass was celebrated on Tuesday, March 17, at Our Lady of the Assumption Church. He was buried at Westview Cemetery, Atlanta.
Donations in remembrance of Father Tom may be sent to the Society of Mary, Our Lady of Assumption Church, or Marist School.