| Thomas Francis "Tom" McGovern
(Former priest who became a professor of psychiatry and the director of the Center of Ethics, Humanities, and Spirituality at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock)
|Born|| June 4, 1935 |
|Died|| March 21, 2022 |
|Spouse|| Antonia Reyes "Toni" McGovern|
One daughter, Lexie
Thomas Francis McGovern, known as Dr. Tom McGovern (June 4, 1935 – March 21, 2022), was an Irish-American Roman Catholic priest based in Amarillo, Texas, who left the ministry and became a professor of psychiatry and the director of the Center of Ethics, Humanities, and Spirituality at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock. He held an Ed.D. degree and worked at the medical center for forty years.
According to his obituary, McGovern made a point of speaking with everyone, including the custodians, food preparers, and nurses as well as the physicians. Dr. Sharmila Dissanaike said of McGovern, "No one knew what his job description was. It didn't matter, because his real job was being the beating heart of TTUHSC (& beyond)."
McGovern was the founding editor of The Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, which he oversaw for thirty years. Current co-editors Susan Bergeson and Regina Baronia said of McGovern: "It was with God in his heart that he saw the best in everyone. Over his many years in recovery, he championed the cause of treatment and recovery for people with alcohol and substance use disorders. He had a passion for helping people, especially the marginalized. He made Regina and me better human [beings]. He ultimately saved many lives and will be celebrated and missed by many. We will carry on the work that he did at ATQ," with the assistance of the researchers in addiction and recovery.
For four years, McGovern hosted the radio program, Faith Matters, carried by KTTZ-FM 89.1 in Lubbock. As host, he made each guest feel comfortable behind the microphone. In all of his activities, McGovern made a point of starting every event on time and ending early.
McGovern himself was active for forty-seven years in the substance abuse recovery program and was "comfortable openly sharing his struggles and the gift that his recovery provided him to give back to others who struggled. He had the ability to be with people at their weakest/darkest moments. He loved them unconditionally and accepted whatever they were going through fully."
Death and legacy
He was survived by his wife, Antonia Reyes "Toni" McGovern, daughter Lexie, and three grandchildren. His memorial service was held on March 26, 2022, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, with the Monsignor David Cruz officiating.
Steven Berk, the TTUHSC Executive Vice-President for Clinical Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine, said of McGovern:
He was the most honorable and righteous person I have ever known. Tom saw the good in all of us, had faith in and love for our institution, and in the profession of medicine. He taught us to merge the spiritual world with the world of science. While many of us would gladly help our neighbor, a student, or a patient when asked, Tom was different. He didn’t need to be asked; like a superhero he showed up where he was needed and left a legacy of spiritual healing to a generation of colleagues, students, and patients. To know him was to become a better person. We will so miss the way he could light up a room. We will miss his voice of compassion and humanity, and his hugs of encouragement. His colleagues will step up to fill the void he has left us.