From Franciscan to Dominican
Father Thomas Blau OP loves being a shepherd to his Legatus chapter in Columbus . . . .
Fr. Thomas Blau, OP
Father Thomas Blau, OP, is on fire with the faith and loves working with other ardent Catholics. “It’s very uplifting for me, and I look forward to continuing to work with and know better the members of Legatus,” says the 51-year-old Cleveland native. He credits his parents for first encouraging his vocation through their strong Catholic example. Another fruit of their faith is the size of their brood: eight children. Father Blau counts himself blessed to be lucky No. 7. He spoke to Legatus’ editorial assistant Matthew A. Rarey.
Tell us about your call to the priesthood.
My parents were and still are great Catholic witnesses. Then in my undergrad years at the University of Akron, I met strong people of faith who knew the Church was called to mission and evangelization. I went on to live in Honduras and Guatemala with a lay missionary group. As my Spanish improved, the local priest had me preach and give catechesis. I thought, “I could do this forever.” And that’s where my sense of urgency kicked in. I heard that interior voice saying, “If you want the priesthood, you can have it.”
Then I went to Franciscan University at Steubenville and got my Master’s in theology. That’s where I met my first Dominican. I’d had a lot of theology by then, plus practical missionary work and campus ministry work. Well, I pretty much told him I was entering the order. I went to the Dominican House of Studies and was ordained in 1999.
How did you become acquainted with Legatus?
During my third priestly assignment — at St. Patrick’s in Columbus — Legatus members asked me to say Mass and give a talk. I got to know them, and the opening finally came up for me to become their chaplain. I believe the chaplain before me, a diocesan priest, was reassigned to another city last July. I became chaplain in August.
What impact has Legatus had on the diocese?
I think it’s been huge. Some of the most zealous members of our diocese are found at those Legatus meetings. Collectively they’re making a great impact. I think you see it with the work some do with the men’s and women’s Catholic conference held in downtown Columbus. They’ll get 4,000 people for the men’s alone. That’s very impressive. And they’re all involved in their parishes — and they’re bringing their Catholic faith to their work places.
How would you like to see the chapter progress?
About 40-50 seem to be attending monthly chapter events, so I think membership growth is important — as well as continuing in spiritual growth and their depth of learning the faith. I’ll do anything I can do to help them.
How do you approach your role as chaplain?
By being committed to the truth and speaking to it at every homily — and encouraging members to be zealous Catholics, committed to evangelization. I also encourage them to pray for their fellow members, and I pray for them every day in the Divine Office.
You have a vocation, of course. Any avocations?
I do like being around our parishioners. I’m more social than cloistered. The pursuit of the Church and apologetics — and always being ready to give an explanation — is an ongoing passion of mine. I also just finished reading How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization by Thomas Woods. I’d recommend it to everyone.
Can you recommend any particular devotion?
Pray at least a decade of the rosary a day. That helps maintain a solid spiritual life. And whether you can get to daily Mass or not, read the Gospel reading and come up with a reading directed at your own life.