In Memoriam, Very Rev. Thomas A. Baima, 1953–2022
April 22, 2022
With grateful and sorrowful hearts, we regret to share the news of the death of our dear friend and beloved colleague, Very Rev. Thomas A. Baima. We know how much Fr. Tom impacted people personally and in his longtime role as Vicar for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Archdiocese of Chicago. As Vicar he served as expert advisor for the archbishops of Chicago, representing them liturgically, speaking as the public voice of the archdiocese in ecumenical and interreligious settings, and serving in countless behind-the-scenes consultations, preparations, and meetings.
Fr. Tom was a visionary leader. He saw issues and opportunities well beyond the immediate topics and tasks at hand. His strong collaborative nature brought theory and practice together in service to the Gospel, the heart of the Christian faith. He understood that ‘we are all church’ and we bring different gifts to the table. A critic of clericalism, his empowering support of lay leadership in ministry called forth women and men to share their many gifts across many platforms.
Fr. Tom’s extraordinary intellect and profound faith led him to care deeply about each person he encountered and the beliefs that inspired their actions. He knew that disagreement in religious matters does not stop us from truly loving one another and so he lived his ecumenical and interreligious ministry as a path of love, compassion, and kindness. Fr. Tom’s legacy is deeply interwoven in the fabric of this ministry in the archdiocese of Chicago, nationally, and internationally.
Through his warm welcome, openness, and deep knowledge, Fr. Tom was equally at home and effective in official Vatican dialogues, local dialogue meetings, academic conferences, and in personal conversations over coffee. Fr. Tom was a bridge builder who often reminded us that “if you get the relationships right, the issues will work out.”
Always in service to the project, agenda, or focus of a meeting, Fr. Tom’s legendary work ethic was in sync with his sense of humor. Pleasant to be with in any circumstance, Fr. Tom was not rigid in his thinking but always open to new ideas. His precision in thought and generosity in spirit often discerned a creative and brilliant way forward in difficult and complicated situations. Steady, reliable and with a love of music and the arts, he understood ecclesial cultures and systems across religions as few others did. His collaborative way was always at the service of the good of all rooted in the Gospel he deeply loved.
We know how blessed we have been to be among his close colleagues in collaboration and dialogue with our many religious partners. May we continue to live and work with the spirit of his love, compassion, and kindness before us. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
|Dr. Daniel J. Olsen
|Susan M. Pudelek, M.Div.
|Dr. Jon Nilson
Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs
Archdiocese of Chicago