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Deacon Thomas Ecker, longtime deacon and Bethany House volunteer, at 79

Jennifer Burke/Catholic Courier    |    01.30.2019
Category: Obituaries


Deacon Thomas Ecker, well-known for his commitment to service, died Jan. 27, 2019 after a long illness. He was 79.

Deacon Ecker and his wife of 38 years, Donna, had been extremely involved at Bethany House, a Catholic Worker House of Hospitality serving homeless women and children. The couple was honored for their 33 years of service last May when Donna retired from her post as Bethany House’s director.

“He was definitely an icon here,” remarked Marie Willis, house manager at Bethany House.

A Rochester native, Deacon Ecker grew up in St. John the Evangelist Parish on Humboldt Street and attended the parish school. He also attended Aquinas Institute and Allendale Columbia School before moving on to Georgetown University, Canisius College and Empire State College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He also served in the United States Army, and last September took part in an Honor Flight mission to Washington, D.C. to visit the nation’s war memorials with other veterans.

Bishop Matthew H. Clark ordained him to the permanent diaconate on June 2, 1990, at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester. In addition to his service at Bethany House, Deacon Ecker also provided diaconal service at St. Joseph Parish in Penfield and St. Jerome Parish in East Rochester.

Deacon Ecker was well-liked at St. Jerome, where he served most recently, according to Father William Leone, pastor of the East Rochester parish. The deacon was known throughout the parish and the community for his commitment to serving the poor, Father Leone added.

“In his preaching he would always reference the poor of our world and our need to reach out to them and serve them. He made a couple trips down to Haiti to help work with the poor people down there. He was a very committed Catholic man,” Father Leone said.

Deacon Ecker is survived by his wife, Donna; children, Michael (Jean), Christopher (Sue), Stephen (Melanie) and Colleen (Paul); grandchildren, Alec, Emily, Christopher, Jonathan, Joshua, Dean, Christine (Bradley) and Paul; sister, Anne VerPlank; and many nieces and nephews.

Calling hours for Deacon Ecker will be Feb. 1, 2019, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Willard H. Scott Funeral Home, 12 South Ave. in Webster. Deacon Ecker will lie in state Feb. 2, 2019, from 9 to 10:45 a.m. at St. Jerome Church, 207 Garfield St. in East Rochester. His funeral liturgy will be celebrated that morning at 11 a.m. Interment will be at Holy Cemetery.

Donations in Deacon Ecker’s memory may be made to Honor Flight Rochester Inc., PO Box 23581, Rochester, NY 14692, or Bethany House, 1111 Joseph Ave., Rochester, NY 14621.

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