University of Wisconsin-River Falls

News Source

Sept. 19, 2003


UW-RF's Weiss to be Ordained Deacon

By Jessica Campbell

UW-RF News Bureau


Thomas Weiss, director of purchasing services and risk manager for the UW-River Falls, will be ordained a permanent deacon, serving the campus and community ministries.

The ordination ceremony is set for Oct. 19, at 2 p.m., at St. Josephs Church in Rice Lake. Bishop Raphael M. Fliss will preside.

Weiss has been employed at UW-RF for 19 years as director of purchasing services and risk manager. As director, Weiss supervises the purchasing of supplies for the entire campus, manages the campus credit card system, the central stores, and the mailroom. As risk manager, Weiss ensures the University is properly protected with the correct insurance and is properly reimbursed in case of an accident. He has also implemented training classes for employees. One such training class taught employees proper lifting techniques, which proved to be successful when the percentage of back-related injures showed a substantial reduction.

Beyond Weiss's duties at North Hall, his main interest on campus is working with college students through the Newman Center and local community outreach programs as Director of Newman Ministries for the St. Thomas More Newman Center. The Newman Center hosts club meetings and social events such as cookouts. There are scriptural communion services held every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons and Bible studies are held Wednesday nights. Weiss prepares for these by focusing on common Sunday mass readings. The readings are similar among many religions, extending to anyone who may be interested in attending.

Weiss welcomes students of any faith to participate in these events, and he is always willing to talk to any student in need. Weiss describes his influence at the Newman Center simply as parenting.

A native of Springfield, Minn., Weiss attended St. Raphael's School in 1962. As a boy, "I always thought I was called to be a priest," says Weiss, and attended St. John's Prep School in Collegeville, Minn. to achieve his dream. However, Weiss's plans changed, and in 1970, he enrolled St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn., receiving a bachelor's degree. He also graduated from UW-RF in 1990 with a master's degree in leadership and supervision.

Weiss's educational background also includes numerous U. S. Army schools, including Command and General Staff College and the United States Army War College. These schools enabled Weiss to serve in the United States Army Reserve for 31 years. Weiss's service in the army ranged from being colonel in the Corps of Engineers, specializing in combat mobility, to a unit commander of a 15,000-person brigade. Weiss's experience in the military have helped him manage his time, organize his priorities, and bring balance between his important roles at UW-RF.

He said he will bring these skills to his new role of Deacon and Director of the Newman Ministry. A deacon is the lowest of the three levels of priesthood. Having a family and a career, Weiss says that this was the most appropriate way to fulfil his desire to provide service to the church. A deacon has the authority to do ritual baptisms, weddings, and funerals. He soon will be to preach in services when he completes a Homiletics course he is now enrolled in.

Weiss will primarily serve as the deacon and director of the Newman Ministry at the University, but will also extend his services to St. Bridget's Parish in River Falls as he is needed.

He is married to the former Mary A. Langer, who for the past 26 years has served as a first grade teacher in the Diocese of Superior Catholic Schools, She teaches at St. Mary's School in New Richmond. Together they have four children: Capt. Thomas Weiss II, Rachel Ann Wachlarowicz, Jeremy J. Weiss, and Joshua M. Weiss. Their extended family includes three grandchildren, Jonathon, Rebecca, and Mark.

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