Thomas Cornell

Obituary of Thomas Cornell

Thomas C. Cornell "Blessed Are the Peacemakers" Thomas Charles Cornell died on August 1, 2022 at the age of 88 at Vassar Hospital in Poughkeepsie, New York. Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1934 to Thomas Cornell and Ann (née Caruso) Cornell, he attended Fairfield Preparatory School and Fairfield University; he would later be granted an honorary doctorate by his alma mater. He also earned a master's degree in education at the University of Bridgeport. While in college, young Cornell came across The Long Loneliness, the autobiography of Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement. He began to visit their houses of hospitality in 1953, beginning the close relationship with Dorothy Day that marked his formative years. He met Monica Ribar at the New York Catholic Worker and they married in 1964. After starting a family, the couple moved to Newburgh, New York, with their young children. Cornell, who had actively supported the civil rights movement, became deeply involved in the peace movement, leading the first protest against the war in Vietnam. He was a co-founder of the Catholic Peace Fellowship and a liaison at the United Nations for an international interfaith fellowship. He visited more than a dozen countries to promote nonviolence and served as a consultant for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' 1983 pastoral letter on peace. Although he held various positions over the decades, Cornell's life-long calling was anchored in the Catholic Worker. He served for over 11 years as the director of soup kitchens for a local council of churches in Waterbury, Connecticut, where he and his wife ran a house of hospitality. He was ordained a deacon in the Archdiocese of Hartford in 1988. In 1993, Cornell and his wife moved to the Peter Maurin Farm in Marlboro, which forms part of the New York Catholic Worker. The farm offers hospitality and also supplies organic produce for local efforts to end hunger. He returned to The Catholic Worker newspaper's editorial board. In Marlboro, he served as deacon at St. Mary's Church and also attended Mass regularly at Our Lady of Mercy Chapel in Roseton. In addition, Cornell taught as an instructor for the archdiocesan diaconate formation program. Cornell was especially honored to serve on the Advisory Board of the Dorothy Day Guild of the Archdiocese of New York, which in December of last year sent her cause to Rome to be considered for canonization. His survivors include his wife of 58 years, Monica (née Ribar) and son Thomas Christopher (Casandra Beam), both of Marlboro, New York; daughter Deirdre Cornell (Kenney Gould) and grandchildren Rachel, Thomas, Seamus, Rebecca and Rosa Gould, of Highland, New York; sister Ann Marie Tomasiello, of Boynton Beach, Florida; and a niece and two nephews, Laura Lynn, Louis and Joseph Tomasiello. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Catholic Worker, 55 East 3rd Street, New York, New York 10003. Calling hours will be held on Tuesday, August 9 from 2:00 to 6:00 PM at St. Mary's Church 1209 Route 9W Marlboro, NY A Mass of Christian burial will be held on Wednesday, August 10th at 11:00 AM at St. Mary's Church. The Rev. Martin Laird, OSA, of Villanova University, will deliver the homily. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to DiDonato Funeral Service.
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