Father Thomas J. Wopperer entered into eternal peace on August 21, 2023 at Brothers of Mercy Campus in Clarence, NY after a brief illness. He was 85 years old.
Born on February 9, 1938 in Buffalo, N.Y., Father Wopperer was the son of Frank C. and Rose M. (Durshordwe) Wopperer. He attended St. Joseph’s Elementary School and the Diocesan Preparatory Seminary in Buffalo, and then Our Lady of Angels Seminary at Niagara University, completing his studies for the Priesthood at St. John Vianney Seminary in East Aurora. He also took special courses in Scripture and Pastoral Counseling at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.
He was ordained on February 22, 1964 at St. Joseph’s New Cathedral by Bishop James A. McNulty. Except for one summer directing the Religious Vacation Schools of the Diocese of Buffalo, he spent his entire priesthood in parish work, serving at St. Helen’s Parish, Hinsdale, N.Y., Nativity of Our Lord Parish, Orchard Park, N.Y., St. Joseph’s Parish, Buffalo, N.Y., St. John Vianney Parish, Orchard Park, N.Y., St. Christopher’s Parish, Tonawanda, N.Y., St. Gabriel’s Parish, Elma, N.Y., and finally pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Dunkirk, N.Y. for almost 20 years. During his years at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, many innovative programs and ministries were initiated and still continue today. While in Dunkirk, he served for many years at the Chautauqua County Home as Chaplain. In retirement, he served as Temporary Administrator of Blessed Mary Angela and Holy Trinity Parishes.
Father Wopperer held memberships in the Knights of St. John and Knights of Columbus.
He was a member of the Dunkirk Yacht Club and served on the Citizens Advisory Board of Brooks Memorial Hospital. Fr. Wopperer was exonerated of all false legal accusations in 2022 and 2023.
In addition to his priestly work, his interests included working in stained glass, gardening, the art of bonsai, cooking, world travel, fishing, camping and sailing.
He is survived by his brother Raymond Wopperer and sister Mary Ann Jeffery.
He is predeceased by 5 brothers and their spouses: Robert (nee Lorraine Buchner), Frank (nee Jean McMahon), William (nee Olga Simone), Charles (nee Joan Moss), George (nee Jacqueline Shea). He is also predeceased by 2 sisters: Dorothy (nee Edward Ketterer), and Jeanne (nee Norman Brady). Finally, remaining in-law deceased spouses include Dorothy Coleman Wopperer, Helene Busch Wopperer, and John Jeffery. Father Tom also has 51 nieces and nephews and over 160 great-nieces and great-nephews and many great great nieces and nephews surviving him.
Father Wopperer will lie in state at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, 328 Washington Avenue in Dunkirk on Thursday August 24, 2023 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM and on Friday, August 25, 2023 from 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
The Mass of Christian Burial with be held at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Dunkirk on Saturday, August 26, 2023 at 11:00 AM. He will be interred at Assumption Mausoleum at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Dunkirk.
Memorials may be made to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Dunkirk.
Arrangements are by the McGraw-Kowal Funeral Home.