by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Of the many things that contribute to a man’s vocation to the priesthood, they all depend on one thing: a foundation of faith.
A priestly vocation cannot be built upon thin air.
For Deacon Thomas Michael Maddock, that foundation was his family — and more specifically, it began with something his late paternal grandmother did.
When he was six weeks old, Deacon Maddock was ill with pyloric stenosis, which prevents food from entering the small intestine. He was severely dehydrated and constantly vomiting. He needed surgery or he would die.
Then Grandmother Mary Patricia Maddock stepped in.
“My baptism was planned for a few weeks later, but I think my grandmother, out of both caution and desire for my salvation . . . baptized me the night before surgery in my parents’ living room,” he said.
Score a big one for the domestic church.
Deacon Maddock was ordained a transitional deacon by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann on May 16, 2020, at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kansas.
He will be ordained a priest by the archbishop at 10 a.m. on May 29 at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Leawood.
Deacon Maddock is the oldest of the five children of Michael and Bernadette Maddock, members of Holy Spirit Parish in Overland Park. His father owns a vending company and is a driver’s education instructor, and his mother is a pediatric nurse at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Overland Park.
Thanks to his parents — and grandma — he had a solid Catholic upbringing. He went to the parish school and his parents led their children in prayer at home. They never missed Mass. His father was an usher and his mother sang in the choir — that is, once she got out of the cry room.
“Some of my earliest memories of church are of being in the cry room [where I remained] until I was 12 years old because there was always a baby,” he said.
He became an altar server in the fifth grade.
“I wanted to be [a server] partially because my friends were servers,” he said. “I don’t naturally like being in front of people, so this pushed me a little out of my comfort zone.”
The possibility of becoming a priest didn’t enter his mind until he went to St. James Academy in Lenexa and met Msgr. Ray Burger, the school’s chaplain.
“One of the coolest things about St. James is that they have daily Mass,” said Deacon Maddock. “A friend of mine on the baseball team, Doug Leikam, invited me to come to daily Mass with him.
“At first I was like, ‘Oh, Mass isn’t that great — it’s kind of boring.’ “But I said, ‘OK, I’ll go.’ I noticed the way he prayed, and his faith seemed alive. He seemed a more authentic person because of it and that was inspiring to me.”
Daily Mass became a habit. And then Msgr. Burger invited him to participate in the activities of the Magnificat Society, a vocations club at the school. Deacon Maddock began serving Mass practically every day, and he developed a mentor-mentee relationship with Msgr. Burger.
But the priesthood? He couldn’t make the conceptual leap until . . .
“Eventually, Monsignor [Burger] just opened the Scriptures for me and talked about a verse in the Book of Jeremiah where the Lord says, ‘I am the potter, you are the clay,’” said Deacon Maddock.
“Seminary is that time of formation and God can mold you. It gave me peace that maybe this was the next thing the Lord wants me to do,” he added. “I said I’d go from that day, and then there was a big peace. I had a confidence about it.”
After St. James Academy, he went to Conception Seminary College in Conception, Missouri, and then on to St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver.
Why does he want to be a priest?
“God has called me, and I want to respond to that call generously,” said Deacon Maddock. “I have great faith that the Lord has an amazing plan for my life, and I want to follow that, which gives me the joy and hope of wanting to serve him as a priest.”
Name: Thomas Michael Maddock
Born: Overland Park
Raised: Overland Park
Parents: Bernadette and Michael Maddock
Siblings: David (26), Rosemarie (24), Michelle (21) and Sean (18)
Home parish: Holy Spirit, Overland Park
Education: St. James Academy, 2011; Conception Seminary College, Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, 2015; St. John Vianney Theological School, Bachelor of Sacred Theology and Master of Divinity
The most inspirational Christians I’ve ever met: my parents
Favorite food: Z-man sandwich and fries from Joe’s Kansas City Barbecue
Least favorite food: Papaya
Favorite smell: spring in Overland Park after it rains
Favorite childhood toy: Megazords
What I wanted to be growing up: professional athlete
Worst job I’ve ever had: umpiring Little League baseball
Best job I’ve ever had: CYO volleyball referee
Things I like to do: running and playing sports, meals with friends and family, listening to music
Most important life lesson learned so far: wear sunscreen on cloudy days
The closest I’ve come to death: When I was six weeks old, I suffered from an illness called pyloric stenosis.
If I could do it all over again, I’d: sin less and love more.
Best vocation advice I’ve received: “Commit your life to the Lord, trust in him, and he will act” (Ps 37:5).
Who had the greatest impact on you seeking your vocation: countless holy priests who love the Lord and his people
My advice for vocation discerners: Learn to recognize the Lord’s voice in your heart and follow him.
What is your greatest fear/concern about your first months as a priest?: being mistaken for a high schooler impersonating a priest
What I am looking forward to most as a priest: saying the holy Sacrifice of the Mass.