Living the Faith: Thomas and Patricia Jackson

RANDOLPH -- Growing up in Alabama, born into a Baptist family, Thomas “Tommie” Jackson never imagined he would find himself in Randolph, an active parishioner at St. Bernadette Parish.

“It all started because I met this wonderful woman,” he said, referring to his wife of 26 years, Patricia Jackson.

Tommie first met Patricia at her workplace -- he was her boss. The couple married in 1982, and had two children -- a daughter, now 22, and a son, now 18. Both are currently enrolled at Bridgewater State College.

After 10 years of marriage, Tommie felt called to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, so he went through the RCIA program at St. Bernadette’s -- the parish where his family was actively involved.

“I felt very blessed with a wonderful family, and felt called to be in a wonderful Church,” he explained.

Today the couple is still very active in the parish -- she sings in the choir and runs the Protecting God’s Children program; he is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, teaches 8th grade religious education, and was the co-chair for the Promise for Tomorrow campaign.

Speaking in their Randolph home, the Jacksons marveled at “how blessed” they feel and how much they “enjoy participating in the good works at St. Bernadette’s.”

Patricia, 57, a retired Boston public schoolteacher, noted that in the 27 years that she has been a parishioner, the parish has certainly changed.

“Randolph is a town in flux,” she explained, noting that over the years, the suburban town has seen an increase in the number of new immigrants moving into the community.

“For a suburban parish, we are one of the most diverse parishes in the archdiocese,” she said.

According to the Jacksons, over 20 languages are spoken at St. Bernadette’s. Large Vietnamese and Haitian communities make up a substantial part of the parish family.

“We have all the challenges and the blessings of an inner-city parish,” Patricia said.

In part because of the diversity of the parish, “one of the main goals of the parish is that everyone feels like they are an important part of St. Bernadette’s,” Patricia said.

The couple praised their pastor, Father Edward Doughty, as well as their parochial vicar, Father Linh T. Nguyen, for bringing together the entire parish community.

“They are very active and dynamic,” said Tommie, 73, a retired medical assistant who is currently a Randolph public school crossing guard. “They work very hard to have people feel that they belong no matter what.”

They noted that in order to appeal to all the different parishioners, the parish has four choirs -- an adult choir, a Haitian choir, a children’s choir and a Vietnamese choir.

It is this sense of belonging that keeps the Jacksons active at St. Bernadette’s.

“I’ve always had the feeling that there are supporters for me in my parish,” said Patricia. Having been brought up Catholic, being a part of the Catholic Church is a “very grounding force” in her life, she said.

St. Bernadette Parish, Randolph

Year established 1937

Pastor -- Father Edward Doughty

Parochial Vicar -- Father Linh T. Nguyen

Parish ministries include -- Prayer Group, Haitian Prayer Group, Eucharistic Adoration, Adult Choir, Haitian Missionary Choir, Vietnamese Choir, Children’s Choir, Meal-a-month, Shut-in Services, Food Donations, Thrift Shop