Remembering Tom O’Gorman 1974-2014

Tributes were paid this week to Tom O’Gorman

Tributes were paid this week to Tom O’Gorman by those within Catholic life who knew and worked with him over many years.

Following news of Tom’s violent death at his home in Castleknock, Dublin, on January 12, the Pro Life Campaign (PLC), where Tom maintained links, announced a memorial prayer vigil which took place on Tuesday night at St Teresa’s Church in Clarendon Street in Dublin.

Recalling Tom, Cora Sherlock, deputy chairperson of the PLC said:  “I first met Tom at UCD and he remained one of my best friends for 20 years. He had that rare quality – a genuine joie de vivre. Kind and funny, with a razor sharp intellect, he usually carried a doorstop-sized history book to read on the bus. I feel very lucky to have known him and to have such marvellous memories. I will miss him terribly.”

A phenomenon

“Everyone who met him came away with an enhanced sense of their own worth born from the experience of his interest in them as a human being,” she added. “In this, Tom was something of a phenomenon. He was a ‘people person’ par excellence and a kind man who loved meeting people and getting to know them and share their lives.”

Reflecting these sentiments the Pro Life Campaign’s Facebook page was filled with messages of dedication to Tom, with those who knew him expressing both their shock at the manner of his death and paying tributes to “a lovely man” who was “one of the kindest people”.

In a statement, PLC chairperson, Dr Joe McCarroll said: “We all remember only too well how invaluable Tom was as a partner in discussion on human rights questions, a challenging sounding board that answered back, always vigorously and thoughtfully pinpointing practical realities that may not have been taken into account – God’s contrarian, I always think of him.

“I was pleased that initial coverage captured the religious and spiritual dimension of Tom, which was the golden thread of his character and his life. Tom stood out as a good man, a considerate and gentle man, a holy man.”

Dr Patricia Casey, who knew Tom through links to the Iona Institute, recalled Tom as “a very amusing man with a true gift for mimicry”.

Acknowledging that Tom could debate with anyone on matters political, religious and philosophical, he was, at the same time, “always funny to be with,” she said.

Petra Conroy, project co-ordinator with Catholic Comment, described Tom as “the kind of man Pope Francis has challenged us all to be”.

“He was a Christian who lived a life of self-giving service filled with joy and passion – for life, for people and for his faith.”

Far from platitudes, Petra insisted that her image of Tom would “ring true for everyone who knew Tom. He gave himself wholeheartedly, passionately, to the great causes that engaged him so much for most of his life, but equally his genuine care for and personal interest and connection with each person he met is reflected in the outpouring of sadness and love from so many in these last few days.”

A statement from the Focolare movement, of which Tom was a member, issued a statement in which he was fondly remembered.

“Tom had a warm and profound personality and will be greatly missed by us all.”

The man arrested in connection with Tom’s death, Italian Saverio Ballante, was also a member of Focolare.

Expressing shock at events, the movement acknowledged his membership, stating, “we know him as a kind and gentle person”.