There are many heroes associated with the Chicago Fire Department, and we want you to get to know some of them. Each month we will feature someone new so stop by often to learn about the amazing people who work with us and support us every day!
Reverend Tom Mulcrone - CFD Chaplain
From the Chicago Sun Times
The Rev. Tom Mulcrone, who has been the Chicago Fire Department chaplain for almost 30 years — through five mayors and what he estimates to be 10 fire commissioners — says he’s planning to retire from that job on June 30.
Mulcrone, 65, said he’s the third official chaplain in the history of the Fire Department. An archdiocesan priest, he was appointed to the job by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin in 1987.
He ministers to firefighters and their families during happy and sad times, from line-of-duty deaths to special occasions. He has presided over weddings and baptisms and attended countless wakes. “In any given year I do 80 or 90 funerals,” he said. “I probably do 30 to 40 weddings a year and 30 to 40 baptisms.”
He has seen many improvements in firefighting equipment and technology, as well as modern challenges.
“The newest challenge is the ever-increasing risk of terrorism, domestic terrorism, and the things 30 years ago firefighters never thought about — biological agents, neurological agents,” he said. “Hazardous materials has become the new forefront of firefighting.”
Mulcrone plans to continue in his role as chaplain at St. Mary of Providence, 4200 N. Austin, a facility serving people with developmental disabilities.
He grew up one of eight kids in Resurrection Parish at Jackson and Leamington, attending Quigley South and Loyola University before entering St. Mary of the Lake seminary.
His grandfather and father were Chicago police officers, and his brother Michael served with the Palatine Police Department. Another brother, Jim, is retired from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. His brother Larry, who worked at high-level posts with the Illinois State Police, died in 2015 at 64 from mesothelioma, an illness his doctor attributed to a summer construction job that exposed him to asbestos when he was 20, Mulcrone said at the time.
His brother’s death “definitely factored into my decision,” he said Monday. Ultimately, he wrote on Facebook, he decided to retire while he had his health and to make room for a new chaplain with a fresh perspective and energy.
Mulcrone said he’ll miss the work. “It’s the nature of firefighters and paramedics. They are sui generis. They are one-of-a-kind and it’s a tremendous family to belong to,” he said. “They are much like police officers . . . they’re ready to give their life away for a total stranger.”
Still, he said, “It’ll be so nice going to bed at night knowing nobody’s going to wake me up” for emergencies.
Bill Kugelman said the chaplain helped him survive the 1986 death of his son, John, a state trooper who was run down by a motorist fleeing from police. “He was there for me,” said Kugelman, a retired battalion chief and former president of the Chicago Firefighters Union.
“His strength is getting along with people, being able to communicate with people that come back from a real bad situation, [seeing] kids [who] are bloody and all of this stuff, deaths,” Kugelman said. “He can talk to you one-on-one.”
“He’s an absolute workaholic priest. He’s at wakes, he’s at weddings, he’s at funerals,” Kugelman said. “All you gotta do is call him.”
“There have been moments of incredible joy and satisfaction that have made these years a delight,” Mulcrone wrote on Facebook. “But there have also been those times of tragedy and great sadness, especially when one of our own had fallen. Yet through it all I knew I was loved and supported by so many who stood by my side, always encouraging me.”
Thomas A. Mulcrone was born in 1951 and raised on Chicago’s West Side as one of eight children. His father, Edward, a Chicago Police Officer who rose to the rank of Lieutenant, continued his career as an Associate Professor in the City College system following his retirement. His mother, Mary, initially a homemaker, became an advocate for the deaf community at the Chicago Hearing Society and was a co-founder of the Illinois Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.
Father Mulcrone attended Resurrection Grammar School (Jackson Blvd.), Quigley Seminary (South) High School and Loyola University. He received a B.A. in Political Science and a B.A. in Theology from Loyola in 1973. In 1977 he received his Masters Degree in Divinity (Cum Laude) from the University of St. Mary of the Lake
He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1977 and was assigned to St. Robert Bellarmine Parish on the Northwest Side. While stationed there, in addition to his pastoral duties, Father Mulcrone was responsible for the formation and ongoing direction of a comprehensive youth ministry program, worship commission, and adult education program. He also worked closely with the parish staff in the development of a wide range of other programs that benefited the general parish population.
From 1979 - 1988, Fr. Mulcrone served as the Director of Northwest Divorced Catholics, a peer-driven support group for separated and divorced persons. Under his direction the program grew to become the largest support group of its kind in the Chicago area. As an outgrowth of this program Fr. Mulcrone became associated with the Beginning Experience, an international organization devoted to the pastoral care of separated, divorced and widowed adults and their children. He became a member of their Executive Board and was elected Chairman of the Board. During that same period, he was appointed as an Advocate for the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Chicago. In that capacity he was responsible for preparing the cases of those who applied for Catholic Church Annulments. When the first Court of Appeals was established for all the dioceses in the State of Illinois, he was appointed as Advocate for that court.
One year later, 1980, he was elected the Chairman of the Northwest Cluster of Catholic Parishes. His duties included the coordination of personnel and services for 15 parishes on the Northwest side of the city.
After having served a 7-year term at St. Robert’s, Fr. Mulcrone was assigned as Associate Pastor of St. Tarcissus Parish. While there he transformed a loosely organized ministry program into a cohesive unit of 5 commissions with a systematic program of leadership development for staff, commission leaders and team members.
On November 2, 1987, Fr. Mulcrone was appointed the Chaplain of the Chicago Fire Department – a position he currently holds. As Chaplain he ministers to the 5,000 members of the Department and their families as well as the 2,400 retired members and their families. On call, 24 hours a day, six days a week, he responds to all extra alarm fires, critical incidents, and reports of sick and injured members being transported to hospitals. On a daily basis he visits members or their family in hospitals or recuperating at home, visits firehouses and other C.F.D. installations, does counseling and provides a wide array pastoral and sacramental needs. Among his many pastoral duties Father created the Gold Badge Society, a support group for the families of Department members who have died in the line of duty. He is an ex-officio member of their executive board. Also, he became a member of the International Critical Incident Foundation and began to work with its local chapter, the Northern Illinois Critical Incident Management Team. Fr. Mulcrone has been instrumental in introducing the C.I.S.M. process to the Chicago Fire Department.
Father became a member of the Board of Directors of the Fire Museum of Greater Chicago in 1998. In 2001, he was appointed Chaplain of the International Association of Fire Fighters Fallen Fire Fighters
Memorial located in Colorado Springs, Co. In 2002, he became the Chaplain of the 300,000 member International Association of Fire Fighters – the international union that represents professional firefighters and emergency medical personnel throughout North America. In that capacity he helps coordinate chaplain services for the 3,000 locals that are part of the International.
In 2012, Fr. Mulcrone completed training and was certified in NIMS 100, 200, 400, 700, and 800.
He also works closely with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation on many of their initiatives and is a regular participant at their Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service every October.
Fr. Mulcrone was appointed the Chaplain at St. Mary of Providence Home in 1999. St. Mary’s is a residential facility and day training center for over 150 mentally challenged and developmentally disabled adults. Father Mulcrone currently resides at St. Mary’s while retaining his duties as the Chaplain of the Chicago Fire Department and the Chaplain of the International Association of Fire Fighters.
Fr. Mulcrone will retire June 30, 2017
Reverend Tom Mulcrone, our very special Someone You Should Know!