I write this with a heavy heart because on May 5th, Tom Feagley, beloved director of Bread of Life for over 30 years, left us and entered the eternal realm. Tom began his work with BOL, then the St. Paul's Supper Program, as the doorman in 1984. I had the privilege of journeying with Tom in this work since 1988. Tom was like the brother I never had, a role model to emulate, and a friend I felt I could trust with my life. He was humble, pure-hearted, self-sacrificing and scrupulously honest. A friend recounted how when Tom was a teenager, he was disciplined for refusing to say the "Pledge of Allegiance" in school. It wasn't that he was against America, rather that he truly believed in the ideals of America: "with liberty and justice for all." How could he say those words when he could see that some people weren't free, weren't being treated justly? Tom had no use for lip service. He believed in action. Throughout his life, Tom chose to act on his principles. It didn't matter to him if people thought he was shoveling against the tide to protest against torture, war, nuclear weapons, racism. It's wrong to torture and kill people, to oppress and persecute people, to let people go hungry, to let people be homeless. He stood like a prophet, a witness, a voice in the wilderness, to say "this is not God's way." Tom told me that he had a life-changing encounter with God decades ago, during a very low and despairing time in his life, when he dedicated himself to following Jesus, to living Jesus' way. As I mourn his death and await seeing him in God's kingdom, where peace and liberty and justice will truly be for all, I take up this lesson: let me, let us, commit ourselves, like Tom, to action, and work for peace and liberty and justice for all.
God bless you,
Note: One of Tom's wishes was that instead of a public funeral, a Celebration of Life be held in the form of a community dinner in Malden for anyone to attend. We will be working with Tom's family on that event with the hope of holding it toward the end of May. We will publicize it and invite the public when details are finalized.