Interview with Fr. Tom Osborne, O.S.A.


Patrick Murphy: Hello everyone, this is Murphy with the Augustinians. Today I am with Fr. Tom Osborne, who I am speaking with. He's at Our Mother of Good Counsel Parish in Homer Glen, Illinois, in the Diocese of Joliet. Fr. Tom, it's a pleasure to have you with us today.

Fr. Tom Osborne, O.S.A.: Thank you.

Murphy: What I'd like to get started with is a great question that I love asking our friars. What was it that called you to be an Augustinian?

Osborne: I'd say when I was a student at Mendel High School I felt the desire to be a priest, and the Augustinians and their way of life is very attractive. The thought of being a good priest seemed to be the lifestyle I saw the Augustinians living and sharing with each other. I think that was the main thing.

Murphy: Would I be wrong in saying it's that community type of lifestyle that seems intrinsic of the Augustinians?

Osborne: Very much so. The men there were very comfortable, it seemed, with each other. It was a new school and living conditions ... They didn't have the monastery yet, but they seemed to find great joy even in some of the limited situations they had to live with.

Murphy: OK. Great. What would you say the role is today of the Augustinian Order, and do you think that the Augustinians are still relevant in today's society?

Osborne: Yeah, I do think they're still relevant. I think one of the challenges is that our modern world, it seems to be getting lost a lot in materialism and self-indulgence. I think our world truly needs to see the beauty of life of the Christian, and the witness of the Augustinians living a common life together gives such a hope that the Christian life can be lived in our modern society. It has to be a spirit of openness and forgiveness, encouragement and support for each other, and of course prayer has to be central to all of this.

Murphy: Then what I'm hearing is the Augustinians are still relevant, and that the role of the Augustinian order today is to help negate that materialism through prayer, through community, and by promoting that in parishes like Mother of Good Counsel and schools like Mendel, or other schools that are now open, correct?

Osborne: Yes, Pat, but I think the core of what I'm experiencing is that our ministries are very diverse. I think one of the strong values that the Order has is our witness of living that kind of life together. They seek their life being lived out in a very effective and caring way. That's a source of hope that spills over, I think, into our various ministries.

Murphy: OK, OK. One of the core things that I really wanted to talk about as well was the Continuing Our Journey of Faith campaign right now that's going on for our province, and as you know, the campaign hopes to build the Father Ray Ryan Trust for men in formation and vocations, and the Journey of a Lifetime trust for the retired and infirm friars. Why do you think that this campaign is particularly important at this point in time?

Osborne: Well, as we just were discussing, I truly believe the Augustinian way of life has given a strong foundation and get many of our outstanding ministries that the order has overtaken, or, undertaken over the years, we set to our life, must continue for the good of the world through the Church. This means that we need to have more young people to join us in our journey. You see, the full training and background they need, and that would require a big investment. You also must be sensitive to those outstanding and dedicated nuns who worked so hard over so many years for the people of God. These then grow old and infirm, they now need the care and generosity that they gave so freely to others. Such a state is very humbling. It gives others the chance, also, to give witness to their love of God in support of this church.

Murphy: Thank you. That's very well stated. One of the friars that's no longer with us... you knew Father Ray Ryan?

Osborne: Very much; met with him a couple of times.

Murphy: Right. Do you think it's appropriate that the Father Ray Ryan Trust, the trust for vocation, was named after him, and why?

Osborne: Ray spent a lot of time working in seminaries and the even in his role as Provincial, he'd seemed to have great compassion and stimulus to generate common life, and those are things that I think young men are going to find strength in, is the formation among such seminarians, and candidates of the Order, and most of all the excitement that seemed to take off and laughter of living in a community. He always liked a good party, he's the first to organize one.

Murphy: I've heard that from so many people and I've seen the evidence of pictures with birthday cakes and party hats. He had a great spirit.

Osborne: He couldn't let one go without the party having streamers and balloons. He would put the smile on everyone's face.

Murphy: I'd venture to say that that spirit, that joviality, that happiness, would you say that that stemmed from living in an Augustinian community, that lifestyle?

Osborne: They say, if you want to find joy in the world and in life, you gotta find that peace at home and at work. And I do think they have been blessed as an Order in that we found joy in many of our monasteries. And I think that carries it over to out work.

Murphy: OK. Since we're talking also a little bit about vocations, I'm hoping that we have some people listening right now that might be discerning a religious vocation, perhaps with the Augustinians, or perhaps with another Order or diocesan priesthood or whatnot. Father Tom, do have any advice for those currently discerning?

Osborne: First of all, I think its really worth the risk to come and start the journey and see whether your vocation can be perhaps religious, or perhaps even an ordained priest saw it. I would encourage our young people not to be careful about coming to experience, to try to live our way of life, but once they begin that journey with us, they will have found that there is an awful lot of demands placed on... and embracing different ministries, and also, that many people are going to want to need to find their time and who they want to be with, and share with and, all of this... and first demand that there be prayer, and private prayer, and common prayer. I think that's essential in finding joy and happiness in our way of life.

Also, I think their experience to share a way of life, that that common life, and they're sharing that life, and their faiths starting with the Augustinians, and on they grow to be a greater source of strength to them. That's kind of what I was saying, you need to be encouraged.

Murphy: That's great advice, Father, and, I'm hopeful that somebody listening out there is really going to take heart to it, and face that... take that leap of faith, I guess you could say.

Osborne: I know when my best buddy, who I used to drive to school with every day, when I was at Mendel, when I told him that I thought I wanted to be a priest, an Augustinian, I saw him falling off his chair he was laughing so hard. Only problem is I didn't think it was funny, so I knew I had to go. In the end, maybe it was funny, but to me, it's what I knew I had to do. I thought I'd give it a try. Soon, I'm going to be ordained fifty years. I think its worth it.

Murphy: While you were at Mendel, were there any particular Augustinians that influenced your decision?

Osborne: They all reached out, and when they saw some of the talents there, they thought might be candidates, they used to invite us some Sundays to the monasteries for Mass and breakfast and they shared points about their life together. I guess some of the men that kind of stand out in that are Fred Taggart and Jim Lyon, in particular, those two in particular in those days. John McNabb, he was a young priest then just doing activities, and they had a sense of laughter and joy about them, so, I can't zero in on one because I think they all influenced me.

Murphy: OK. I want to wrap things up here. I was wondering if we can talk about the campaign again, because it does relate to keeping that Augustinian spirit alive for generations to come, long past me and you. Why should others, in your opinion, go the extra mile to make a special gift for the capital campaign?

Osborne: Years ago, when I was a young priest with a friend and colleague when I was over at St. Clare [Parish] and they put me in charge of raising the money for the bishops' campaign that year. [He] was chairman because he kept patient about how to raise money and he said, "Look, if you believe in what you're doing, you stand up and tell them it's a good cause, tell them you need money, and sit down." I guess I never forgot that. I really think about your question that, I'd say our Augustinian life, and our ministries, touched thousands over the years. It's my hope that this is maybe a lesson to them, and that it helps to shape their life. I would hope then that this means that, not to them, that they wanted to continue for the future. We won't be able to do this without their support.

Murphy: Of course not.

Osborne: We need them as much as they once needed us. In a sense, well its life partnership.

Murphy: That's great. I spoke with Bishop Dan Turley a little bit ago and he said a very similar thing, in that the world needs what the Augustinians provide and that their partnership, that you described, it's really a way to be on that journey of faith, to continue that journey of faith together.

Osborne: I think so. Our way of life isn't just exclusively a contemplative model of monastery and prayer, but it's a very active life, and bringing that contemplative aspect of prayer into the excitement of our lives. I think that's what allows us to be of some use to the people we try to serve.

Murphy: I would agree. I think that there is probably many other people out there that would agree with you, Father. Thank you, once again, for taking the time for this interview. For our listeners, if you want more information, there is plenty more information here about the campaign, at Otherwise you can contact campaign director Michael Gerrity at 773-595-4035. Once again, Father Tom, thank you so much for taking the time out, and I hope you have a blessed day.

Osborne: Thanks, Pat. Good talking to you.

Posted on November 13, 2014 and filed under Tom Osborne O.S.A..