Thomas Ferrick, 1929-2013

I am indescribably saddened to learn that Tom died. He was a very kind and thoughtful man, who in a quiet and selfless way did as much to advance humanistic thought and values as any man that I have known.  After leaving the Catholic priesthood, stalwartly supporting gay rights, women's rights, and civil rights, and counseling to uncounted numbers of young people at Harvard over decades—in unwelcoming times--he developed his own intellectual and emotional ('spiritual') understanding of Humanism.  He was the focus for the foundation and growth of Boston Humanists. Tom was a staunch supporter of separation of church and state, and he much opposed the hierarchy's intrusions to obtain public funding for religious objectives.

Tom Ferrick defined the position of Humanist Chaplain.  Every Humanist Chaplain who comes later will be in Tom's footsteps. He will be remembered as bringing Humanism to equality and having a seat at the table with religionists; and in his non-confrontational way, winning respect for non-theistic viewpoints. He will also be remembered for grooming and most excellently selecting Greg Epstein to be his successor as Humanist Chaplain at Harvard. 

I have the utmost admiration for the life that Tom led, for his pioneering, for his courage, and for the legacy that he leaves for us. 


   Ellery Schempp

Read more in this Boston Globe article about Tom Ferrick.


About Ellery

Ellery's picture
Ellery Schempp, a member of the Concord Area Humanists steering committee, protested bible reading and devotional prayers at his high school school, a protest that turned into the landmark Abington v. Schempp decision in 1963 by the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a retired scientist who often speaks about his involvement in the Schempp case, and the importance of keeping religion out of government.


I'm sorry I never got a chance to know him. He sounds like a great human.

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