Fr. Shearer reflects on priesthood, retirement
By Sister Eileen Connelly
As a child growing up in our Lady of Mercy Parish in Dayton, the young Tom Shearer had the opportunity to get to know “some really good priests.” Among them was Father George Steinkamp, founding pastor of Our Lady of Mercy, who was a regular dinner guest at the Shearer home.
After graduating from Chaminade High School, Shearer went on to attend college, studying archeology and anthropology. “I was happy,” he said, “but found myself looking for something with more purpose.”
He found the inspiration he was looking for at a vocation presentation at an area parish, ultimately finishing college at St. Gregory’s Seminary, then attending Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. Father Shearer was ordained in 1978.
The priests I came to know growing up and as a young man were good, caring people, and very human,” he explained. “That made a difference and is what made me open to the possibility of this type of ministry.”
Father Shearer’s first assignment was teaching at Fenwick high school, an experience he loved. He went on to serve at St. Anthony Parish in Dayton, where, he said, “the beautiful congregation taught me how to be a pastor. They were tolerant of my mistakes and taught me new and better ways of thinking and doing things. I’m so grateful for them.”
As pastor of St. Henry Parish in Dayton and Our Lady of Good Hope in Miamisburg, Father Shearer led the faith communities as they formed a pastoral region. “The parishes are very different and made up of great people,” he said. “Again, it was a real learning experience for me. You come to a parish with certain gifts, knowledge, and experiences, and by walking together with the parishioners, it really works. I’ve learned something and been given something with every assignment.”
Father Shearer took medical retirement in 2019. After a period of rest and recovery, he currently enjoys ministering to his neighbors and “being present to them and getting to know them at a deeper level,” assisting with Masses and the sacrament of reconciliation at nearby parishes, and pursuing his favorite hobby: painting.
Reflecting on his years in priestly ministry, Father Shearer said hearing confessions has been one of the most rewarding aspects. “It makes you humble, and you get to be with people in times of conflict and reconciliation, to reassure them and to challenge them,” he said. “You get to see God at work putting forgiveness in peoples’ lives. It’s like witnessing creation.”
Father Shearer expressed his gratitude for the CMA’s support of retired priests saying, “It frees us to be healthy and to be helpful, to take some of the pressure off our fellow priests, and give them a vacation.”