Saint Thomas More, "the King's good servant, but God's first"
St. Thomas More, the patron of our parish, is among the most outstanding Saints of the Church. He was a lawyer, author, Lord Chancellor of England, social philosopher, and a foremost English Humanist of his day. His counsel to King Henry VIII was so invaluable that in 1521, Henry knighted him. In 1534, Parliament passed "The Act of Supremacy", declaring King Henry the supreme head of the Church of England. Henry had Parliament declare that all public officials must swear and sign an oath, which both recognized him as Supreme Head of the English Church and promised obedience to him in his new role. Thomas was a devout Catholic and he did not approve of Henry's divorce from Catherine of Argon, and his claiming of the title "Supreme Head of the English Church". Thomas felt forced to resign his position as Lord Chancellor and retire to his home in the country far away from the public eye and religious controversy. Unfortunately, he was much too prominent and too respected to be left alone.
Firmly rejecting any compromise with his conscience, Thomas refused to sign the oath of allegiance to King Henry. Upon his refusal, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London where he remained until his trial. He was convicted of high treason and sentenced to death.
Saint Thomas More was beheaded on Tower Hill and his body was buried in the Church of Saint Peter. "I am the King's good servant, but God's first" were the last words spoken by Thomas before his execution. He was canonized in 1935 by Pope Pius XI and in the year 2000, Saint John Paul II proclaimed Saint Thomas More the Patron Saint of Statesmen and Politicians, announcing that the world's politicians now have a patron for their inspiration.
Saint Thomas' life teaches us that the government is above all an exercise of virtue. In this time of social and religious controversy, there is a need for clear political decisions to be made in favor of family, young people, the elderly, and the disadvantaged. All citizens can turn to the example of Saint Thomas More who distinguished himself by his constant fidelity to legitimate authority and institutions with the intention to serve not power, but the supreme ideal of justice.
The Parish Family of Saint Thomas More is proud to have a man of such moral integrity and religious conviction as their name sake.