Father Thomas Merrill, OFM Conv.
Father Thomas Merrill is the Rector/Pastor of the Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation and is the Guardian of the local Friary.
He is a native of Saint Paul, Minnesota, born there in March, 1950. He was raised, along with one sister a year and a half my junior, in a suburb of Minneapolis, attending Catholic grade and public high schools, celebrating my 50th year of graduation in June.
Fr. Thomas professed Solemn Vows in 1977, and being ordained in 1979, he served in parishes in Louisville, KY, and Milwaukee, WI. Followed by teaching school in New York, Texas and Wisconsin.
From there, he worked in our Franciscan Missions in Costa Rica for three years, and again in Postulant Formation. He also served as Pastor of San Jose Parish in Carlsbad, NM.
After a sabbatical year in Israel, the Vatican, and Ireland he served for many years in Minnesota. After another sabbatical spent in England, India, Rome, Greece and Turkey, he returned to another parish in Minnesota and then at St, Mary’s Parish in New Albany, Indiana, and was very recently assigned to be Pastor of the parish here and Rector of the Shrine as well.
Father John Bamman, OFM Conv.
Father John earned a bachelor’s degree in natural resources, parks and recreation management at the Ohio State University. Then moved west to Washington State, where he studied theology at Seattle University. He then returned to his home town, Sylvania, Ohio where he first met the friars on a Teens Encounter Christ retreat. Since that TEC Retreat he could not shake his call to be a Franciscan priest. Father John is a part-time Associate Pastor and part-time Vocation Director and thrilled to serve at Our Lady of Consolation Basilica & Shrine.
Jack Gerding, Director of Music Ministries
Mr. Jack Gerding serves the Shrine as our Director of Music Ministries. Growing up at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Glandorf, Ohio, he started his vocation in church music at a very young age by singing in the choir and playing for school Masses. After completing his degree in Sacred Music, Mr. Gerding served St. Cyprian Catholic Church in Riverview, Michigan, and St. Patrick of Heatherdowns in Toledo, Ohio and now the Shrine.
Here at Our Lady of Consolation, Mr. Gerding is responsible for coordinating the weekday and weekend music ministers as well as directing the Shrine Chorale, Resurrection Choir, Jubilate Children’s Choir, Cantor Guild, Assumption Choir, and the 100 voice Carey Ecumenical Choir. Mr. Gerding has had the privilege to travel to Italy with his choirs and to sing for Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.