Seminary Graduation Year: 1970
Called home by our Lord, Father Thomas J. Jennings, age 78, died peacefully on March 29, 2023, at his home surrounded by his family. He was born on August 12, 1944, in Caledonia, MN to Lloyd and Wilma (Ernster) Jennings. He was baptized and confirmed at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Caledonia. Father Tom graduated from Loretto High School and studied philosophy at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona. He completed his theology degree at the North American College and the Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. On December 19, 1969, Father Tom Jennings was ordained to the priesthood in Rome at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
Father Tom’s assignments as parochial vicar were at St. John in Rochester and the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Winona. As a pastor, he served at St. John in Winona, Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Easton, Mater Dolorosa in Delavan, Queen of Angels in Austin, Our Lady of Loretto in Brownsdale, Sacred Heart in Owatonna, St. Catherine in Luverne, and St. Mary in Ellsworth. Additional assignments include instructor for Lourdes High School in Rochester and Cotter High School in Winona; diocesan director of education of priests; principal and administrator for Cotter High School in Winona; chaplain of Cabrini Home, Knights of Columbus MN State Council, and the Owatonna area Catholic Daughters; member of the Presbyteral Council, Clergy Assignments Committee, and College of Consultors; dean of the Austin/Albert Lea Deanery; faculty of Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona; and rural life co-director for the diocese. On October 8, 2018, Father Tom joined the rank of the senior priest of the diocese.
Father Tom was always a farm boy at heart. He enjoyed all of God’s creations to the fullest. He was frequently seen taking pictures of all kinds. He loved hiking, gardening, photography, reading, and drives in the countryside. He loved holidays and getting together with his family, friends, and his “bible buddies”. He was an active member of the Caledonia Lions Club. Father Tom had a passion for life. His presence will be dearly missed by all.
He will be dearly missed by two brothers and sisters-in-law; nieces and nephews; great nieces and nephews; great-great nephew. Father Tom was preceded in death by his parents, nephews Daniel Jennings and Rick Jennings, great nephew Brandon Jennings.
The family would like to thank Father Matt Wagner, Sister Michaeline, and the staff at Mayo Clinic Health System for all the great care and support.
Mass of Christian burial will be at 11:00 am, Tuesday, April 4, at the Church of St. Mary in Caledonia, MN with the Most Reverend Robert E. Barron, Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester celebrating with the Priests of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester concelebrating. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 pm Monday and 10 to 10:45 am Tuesday at St. Mary’s Holy Family Hall. The funeral will be livestreamed on St. Mary’s Church, Caledonia, Facebook page.
Memorials are preferred to St. Mary’s School, Caledonia, MN. Condolences in memory of Father Thomas Jennings may be sent to 707 North Hokah Street, Caledonia, MN.