Father Pat Tobin is more than a local boy that has done good. He has
lived his life to the fullest everyday.
On this Saturday, March 18,
he and his family will celebrate an 11 am Mass of Thanksgiving for
the Golden Jubilee of his ordination as a Catholic priest. The event
will be held in his church, St. Therese, 7207 NW Highway 9, Kansas
City. It will recognize Fr. Pat’s ordination, which was on St.
Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1956 by Bishop John Patrick Cody at
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Maryville. There will also
be a reception for Fr. Pat after the 4:30 Mass on March 18 and after
the 8 am, 10 am and noon Masses on March 19.
St. Therese Parish, actually
in Parkville, is one of the largest in the diocese with 3,200 families
and noted also as one of the fastest growing churches in the Catholic
During his 50 years of service,
Fr. Pat has ministered in parishes in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Cameron,
Maysville and Grandview.
Fr. Pat was born on June 10,
1930 in St. Francis Hospital, Maryville, to Frank and Nora Kelly Tobin,
who are both deceased. His family members are brothers: John, Maryville;
Kelly, New Market, IA; Maurice, Washington, DC; Fr. Chuck, pastor
of St. Sabina parish in Belton and one sister, Mary Ellen Mahr, Mission,
KS. Two brothers, Kieran and Terrance, are deceased. Fr. Chuck who
was ordained in 1968 served the local parish, St. Gregory’s
Barbarigo Church as well as spent five years in the Hispanic missions
in Bolivia. He now has 500 Hispanic families in his congregation of
1,700 families at St. Sabina.
Fr. Pat is a man on a mission.
His 50 years of ministry has demonstrated his love for the poor and
“It is part of my call
to the ministry. I think Judgment will be devastating in some ways
because we will look back on some of the things we could have done
to affect people’s lives for the good and we failed to do it,”
said Fr. Pat, when commenting on his labor of helping people.
Fr. Pat’s call to help
people in every walk of life has been evident in his many missions
with Mother Teresa. In 1968, Fr. Pat’s pastoral outreach took
an international turn. He was pastor of the Linwood and Benton parish
in Kansas City, an inner city church that later became the Church
of the Risen Christ. Because of the civil unrest around his parish
and the bleak situation the youth of the area was in, he wrote Mother
Teresa a letter requesting a tape-recorded message for the parishioners.
She responded and they met in Chicago.
Soon after that meeting, Mother
Teresa asked Fr. Pat to come to Calcutta, India to give a retreat
for 800 of her Missionaries of Charity. He wired back saying Mother
Teresa must have made a mistake. Her reply was, “No mistake.
Come to Calcutta.” This was the beginning of Fr. Pat giving
eight-day retreats to the sisters in 31 countries, often with Mother
Teresa as co-director. His brother, Maurice, financed the trips that
had the theme of “Let the Jesus in you meet the Jesus in other
Through these travels with
Mother Teresa, Fr. Pat witnessed the worldwide hunger crisis first
Fr. Pat has had many beginnings
in his life, besides his ordination into priesthood. He was one of
the founders of Harvesters, which started in 1979. Harvesters was
one of the first food banks established in the United States and as
you might imagine started out modestly in a loaned space in a downtown
cold storage facility. With Fr. Pat’s help, and many others
through the years, the Harvesters distributed over 25 million pounds
of food in 2005. Over 1,800 volunteers sort food at Harvesters each
Presently his project of water
purification addresses one basic fact of malnutrition, safe drinking
water is missing. Fr. Pat has found a Proctor and Gamble powdered
mix which when mixed with 10 liters of water will purify at a cost
of one penny. He reported that several million of the packets have
been sent to the tsunami victims in Sri Lanka. This alone helped the
victims of that disaster avoid diseases such as dysentery, diarrhea,
cholera and typhoid.
“Two thirds of the world’s
hunger problem is related to impure drinking water,” says Fr.
He is hosting a special program
at his church in Parkville on March 21 to further address the Proctor
and Gamble product and the possibilities it could provide to countries
across the globe. The event is free and will be from 4-6 pm and again
from 6-9 pm.
One of Fr. Pat’s early
missions involved the Neighborhood Youth Corps where he aided in the
placement of 600 street children into foster homes while he served
as associate director of Catholic Charities from 1959-1977. He started
a day care center and a neighborhood housing rehabilitation program
in St. Joseph.
He also served as a prison
chaplain at the Western Correctional Center in Cameron for over 4,000
inmates where he developed a work program for the prisoners to sack
food for the hungry and make educational blocks for children. This
effort allowed the inmates to develop self-worth, while they were
helping the less fortunate. In 1992, Fr. Pat was honored as the Missouri
Corrections Association Volunteer of the Year.
The farm boy at heart, Fr.
Pat also instigated gardens at the Cameron facility where he furnished
2,000 tomato plants and 100 watermelon and cantaloupe vines to begin
a gardening project. Later, flowers and even a greenhouse were added.
The produce that resulted from the gardens was given to the poor.
“We grew a half million
pounds of vegetables in one year. Ninety percent of the vegetables
were eaten the day they were picked,” said Fr. Pat.
While serving as associate
director of Catholic Charities, he also was the Jackson County Juvenile
Court chaplain. Through his efforts, over 100 boys were allowed to
go to Fr. Flanagan Boys Town in Omaha, NE.
“Every 10 days or so
I made the 11 hour trip, long before I-29, to Omaha to take boys to
their new home and to visit the lads there for a progress report,”
said Fr. Pat.
During his 16-year stint with
Catholic Charities, Fr. Pat also brought 120 Cuban families to the
Kansas City/St. Joseph area for relocation. Federal housing programs
gave homes to the families in the housing projects at a cost of $25
per month for six months and the participating parishes furnished
the homes prior to the family’s arrival.
“I was the bus driver
for the twice weekly language classes and the numerous trips to all
the places they needed like groceries, library, to get a drivers license
or to register for school,” said Fr. Pat.
Throughout his life’s
work, Fr. Pat has adopted one of Mother Teresa's thoughts, "Unless
life is lived for others, it is not worthwhile."
Fr. Pat's life stories prove
the worth of his missions.