Fr. Thomas Willis was born in November 1957 – the eldest son of Samuel and Lillian Willis. Like his father before
him, Fr. Tom was born and raised in St. Augustine. He has one younger sister, Tina, who presently resides with
her family in St. Augustine.
Fr. Tom was educated at Cathedral Parish School and St. Joseph Academy. As a teenager, he worked for his
father at the family’s furniture store along with delivering the local newspaper, the St. Augustine Record. He
graduated salutatorian of his class in 1975 and began formation for the priesthood at St. Meinrad College in St.
Meinrad, Indiana in January 1976. There, he majored in history with a double minor in philosophy and religion.
During summers while in college, he worked as an on-air personality and news gatherer for St. Augustine radio
Following completion of his college degree, the Diocese of St. Augustine sent him to St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in
Boynton Beach, Florida. He completed his Master of Divinity (cum laude) in 1983 and was ordained to the transitional diaconate in May of that year. Following his deacon internship at St. Paul’s Parish in Jacksonville Beach, he returned to the seminary prior to his ordination to the priesthood on May 26, 1984 by Bishop John J. Snyder.
After ordination, Fr. Tom was assigned as associate pastor at St. Matthew’s Parish in Jacksonville. During that time he began summer studies at the University of Notre Dame for a master’s degree in liturgy which he obtained in 1990. He has also served as associate pastor at Holy Spirit Parish (Jacksonville), Holy Family Parish (Jacksonville), Holy Faith Parish (Gainesville) and St. Paul’s Parish (Jacksonville Beach). He became pastor of Most Holy Redeemer Parish on the west side of Jacksonville in October 1996 prior to becoming pastor of the Cathedral Parish in July 2008.
During his years as a priest, Fr. Tom has served as the Chairperson of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission and the Director of Liturgy for the Diocese of St. Augustine. He has also served on the Clergy Personnel Board and Presbyteral Council. He also has chaired the bishop’s Sacramental Guidelines Committee as well as the Steering Committee for the Intentional Presbyterate.