Monsignor Joseph Tash: 1935-2012
Amarillo - Monsignor Joseph Tash, the founding pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Church, passed away May 21 after a brief illness. He was 77 years old.
Rosary will be said at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, May 24 at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated May 25 at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, Bishop Patrick J. Zurek, presiding, with priests of the Diocese of Amarillo concelebrating. Interment will be in Llano Cemetery. Arrangements are by Schooler Funeral Home, 4100 S. Georgia.
Joseph Tash was born March 2, 1935 in Barre, Vt., the fourth of five children born to Edward T. and Anna Corey Tash. "My dad worked in the granite industry as a 'lumper,' someone who puts the glass finish to granite," Monsignor Tash said in a 2002 interview in the Amarillo Globe News. "My mom was a stay-at-home mom, who worked in the granite industry when there were strikes."
After his graduation from Spaulding High School, Tash attended St. Michael's College in Burlington, Vt. for two years and St. John's Seminary in Brighton, Mass., where he received a degree in Philosophy. He also attended Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Mich., where he did post graduate work in Theology.
At the age of 27, Joseph Tash was ordained to the priesthood on May 25, 1962 at St. Monica's Church in Barre by Bishop Robert F. Joyce. The newly-ordained Father Tash celebrated his first Mass the following day at St. Mary's Church, also in Barre. So how did a priest with ties to Vermont wind up in the Diocese of Amarillo?
"You study for the diocese where you live geographically," Monsignor Tash said in a 2002 interview in the Amarillo Globe News. "I would have stayed in Vermont, except at the time the bishop made a statement that it looked like he was going to have too many priests and he didn't know what to do with them all. At that point in time, I, together with my spiritual director, decided that I should maybe look at missionary areas." The missionary areas were St. Augustine, Fla.; Monterey-Fresno, Calif.; and, Amarillo. Amarillo responded first.
Father Tash served as assistant pastor at St. Mary's Church (now St. Mary's Cathedral), Amarillo, from June 1962 to July 1967.
Responding to a request of Maronite Rite leaders who were in desperate need for priests of Lebanese origin to assist in providing spiritual services for Catholics of the Maronite Rite, Father Tash left the Diocese of Amarillo on Aug. 2, 1967 to serve as assistant pastor of the Church of St. Louis Gonzaga in Utica, NY. The stay in New York was short-lived as Father Tash returned to the Diocese of Amarillo in 1968 and on Aug. 16, was assigned by then-Bishop Lawrence M. DeFalco to St. Anthony's Hospital as a chaplain, Director of Pastoral Care and Director of Mission and Ministry.
In 1980, Father Tash moved into senior management, when he was placed in charge of planning and development. He would also serve as Co-Chairman of the Medical Ethics Committee, serve on the Administrative Council and serve as Director of Community Relations until his resignation from the hospital on Nov. 17, 1993. During his stint at St. Anthony's Hospital, Father Tash was also in charge of the St. Anthony's Foundation. His fundraising efforts netted more than $1 million for the hospital. He was also instrumental in fundraising efforts for the establishment of St. Anthony's Hospice.
On Jan. 6, 1980, Father Tash celebrated the first Mass in the Fellowship Hall of St. Stephen's United Methodist Church at 4600 South Western for the Catholic Community known at that time as "St. Joseph's West." On July 3, 1980, St. Thomas the Apostle Church was established and on June 1, 1981, ground was broken for the new church at 4100 South Coulter. The new church was dedicated on May 7, 1982.
In 1986, Father Tash became Monsignor Tash, as he was named a Prelate of Honor with the title of Monsignor by Pope (now Blessed) John Paul II.
Monsignor Tash was also known for his community service. In the 1970's, he was a member of the ad hoc committee that established Operation Drug Alert for the City of Amarillo. Monsignor Tash also organized Kairos House, a drug rehabilitation center and headed the speakers bureau for the implementation of Operation Drug Alert. During a three-year period, he traveled throughout the Texas Panhandle to speak at schools and churches on the danger of drugs in our society.
Monsignor Tash also served as chairman of the March of Dimes and also held board memberships in St. Anthony's Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, Catholic Family Service, United Way and Amarillo Symphony. He served twice as campaign chairman of the United Way in 1993 and 1994. He also served on the Board of the Mended Hearts Association and the Amarillo Kidney Foundation.
In the 1980's, Monsignor Tash was also instrumental in establishing the Ronald McDonald House in Amarillo, along with Dr. Winfred Moore and Ron McVean. Monsignor Tash also had several hobbies, including bowling, golf and cooking. In 2000, he taught a course on Lebanese Cooking at Amarillo College. He also cooked two luncheons for the Art Force.
Another of his hobbies was one he started in 1978 that he called "therapeutic.""Needlepoint is something I do instead of watching TV," he said in a Nov. 9, 2003 interview in The West Texas Catholic. "It's something I do usually early in the morning and late at night and when traveling on long flights. Besides, I'd go crazy with nothing to do. "The therapeutic hobby resulted in a different Christmas-themed needlepoint that was the grand prize for the St. Thomas Parish Altar Guild fundraiser for many years.
Monsignor Tash was one of three priests from Barre to serve the Diocese of Amarillo—the others: Monsignor Raymond Crosier and Servants of the Holy Paraclete Father Fern Couture, who passed away Sept. 9, 2003.
Monsignor Tash was preceded in death by his father Edward in 1975 and his mother Anna in 1986.
Survivors include two brothers, Nathan Tash of Pemebroke Pines, Fla. and Francis Tash and his wife Irene Tash of East Montpelier, Vt.; a sister, Barbara Tash Callahan of Manchester, Conn.; four nephews, Michael Callahan, of Killingsworth, Connecticut and Patrick Callahan and his wife Joyce Callahan of Westerly, RI; Edward Tash and Francis "Buddy" Tash; three nieces, Emily Callahan, Donna Tash, Susan Tash; and his faithful congregation, whom he considered to be his flock.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Olivia's Angels c/o BSA Hospice, PO Box 950, Amarillo, TX 79105 or St. Thomas Memorial Fund, 4100 S. Coulter, Amarillo, TX 79121.