Deacon Thomas Masaryk
Thomas Masaryk dream of becoming an artist took root at the age of 10 years old when he began apprenticing under his father, who was a Master Painter and Decorator. He later went on to get degrees in Fine Arts from F.I.T. and Queens College. He served apprenticeships under - animal sculptor, Donald Miller, and also Sicilian master wood carver, Frank Licitra.
In 1980, combining both his fine arts and decorative art skills, he established his own artistic painting service specializing in “Trompe L’oeil” – a French term meaning “to fool the eye.” He is distinguished in his field for his murals, faux marble intarsia, wood graining, gold leaf and painted finishes. Masaryk’s work has been featured in individual and group exhibitions, as well as numerous publications in the United States and overseas. Throughout his career he has given professional seminars and demonstrations in the Connecticut, New York, Boston and Philadelphia area. Not limiting his artistry to the residential and commercial sector, his painting and mosaic skills have served to beautify and design numerous sacred spaces.
In 2008 Bishop William Lori ordained Thomas as a Permanent Deacon in the Diocese of Bridgeport. He was assigned to St. James Parish, where he served on various ministries and gave retreats. He has also given Advent retreats, Lenten retreats, and Days of Reflection at the following churches and retreat centers: St. Bridget of Ireland (Stamford, CT), St. Jude (Monroe, CT), Our Lady of Peace (Stratford, CT), St. James (Stratford, CT), St. Mark (Stratford, CT), St. Thomas Seminary / Cursillo Regional Encounter (Hartford, CT), Cursillo Region1 Encounter in Albany, NY, Seton-Neumann Center (Danbury, CT), and at The Shrine of St. Margaret (Bridgeport, CT).
Deacon Masaryk is a member of the Diaconate Revision Committee, Diaconate Mentoring Committee, and the Directors Advisory Board. He has been active for over 25 years, in the Cursillo Movement: a lay evangelizing movement of the Catholic Church that promotes sharing God’s love through the best means – “friendship.” Both as a lay member, and later as clergy, he has served the movement on retreats, giving talks, serving on the Secretariat, the Post Cursillo Committee, the School of Leaders, and was appointed Assistant Spiritual Advisor to the movement in 2013.
In 2015, Bishop Frank Caggiano appointed Deacon Masaryk as Spiritual Director for the English -speaking Cursillo movement in the Diocese of Bridgeport. He is the first deacon in the diocese to be appointed this position.
While serving par diem at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, CT, Deacon Tom took a year sabbatical In 2014 from his artwork, to serve as a full time hospital chaplain. HIs ministry brought hope, care, and compassion to patients and their families from all faith traditions, accompanying them through their struggles, trauma, death, and suffering. The experience impacted him profoundly, motivating him to seek an assignment outside the walls of a parish, and to reevaluate his artwork.
So in May of 2016, Bishop Caggiano granted him a transfer to The Shrine of St. Margaret, the official diocesan shrine of Bridgeport, located in its inner city. The Shrine is close to St. Vincent’s Medical Center where some of the patients, staff, and hospital workers are part of the worshiping community. Catholic immigrants of Italian descent built the Shrine in 1942. While still an Italian community it also serves the Vietnamese, Portuguese, Cuban and Mexican communities.
While active in his diaconal functioning, both liturgically, and in the many outreach ministries at the Shrine, Deacon Tom has been overseeing the renovation/ renewal of the grounds and statues that have fallen into disarray of the years.
As a deacon, artist, and chaplain, Deacon Masaryk brings his combined experience into the challenges that exist today in the sacred arts. He believes that an artist of faith has the opportunity to bring beauty, faith and hope to others. Being able to access our artistic gifts – is a path to deepen one’s spirituality, develop ways to break open the Gospel, and share the love of God with others.
Pope Francis stated in his exhortation The Joy of the Gospel that:
“We must be bold enough to discover new signs and new symbols, new flesh to embody and communicate the word, and different forms of beauty which are valued in different cultural settings, including those unconventional modes of beauty that may mean little to the evangelizers, yet prove particularly attractive for others.”
Deacon Tom believes that connecting our spiritual stories through a visual language is an important outreach to a younger audience, especially those creative people in the arts. He believes that this connection has its own unique part in a “New Evangelization.” Sharing our gift with others can be “a path leading to an encounter with the Lord Jesus.”