Mass of Christian burial Tuesday, April 23 in Canton for Fr. Tom Royer

Father Tom Royer

CANTON – A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 23, at St. Mary Church in Canton here for Father Tom Royer, who was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Peoria, and served as a pastor as well as a diocesan director of communications. He was tireless advocate for those in need at home and abroad.

Bishop Louis Tylka will preside at Mass, with Msgr. Doug Hennessy providing the homily.

“Her faith was my catechism.” – Father Tom Royer, on his mother Catherine

Father Royer died on January 4 at Accolade Healthcare in Savoy. A memorial Mass was held on Feb. 24, 2024, at St. Mary Church, Champaign.

Father Tom grew up in Canton, the third youngest of Aloysius and Catherine (King) Royer’s nine children. In a 2020 Catholic Post article, he was quoted as saying of his mother: “Her faith was my catechism.”

He attended St. Paul Seminary in Minnesota and was ordained in 1960.

Father’s Tom’s parish ministry after ordination included serving as parochial vicar at Holy Family in Peoria, St. Paul in Danville, St. Matthew in Champaign, and St. Edward in Chillicothe. He began his long ministry at St. Mary in Champaign in 1973 (a position he held until his retirement in 2010) adding pastoral care for St. Joseph in Ivesdale and St. Boniface in Seymour at various points.

In 1972, Father Tom began working as the director of communications for the Diocese of Peoria while he studied for degrees in Radio/TV (1972) and journalism (1978) at the University of Illinois. Hosting a Sunday-morning show on WCIA in Champaign, Dialogue in Faith, led him to greater study of national and global politics.

This led to his being invited by the Emergency Relief Fund for Bangladesh to accompany journalists and humanitarian workers to Calcutta to report on the refugee crisis. There he met Mother Theresa and filmed her daily work.


In 1989, he visited Maryknoll Father Bill Donnelly’s parish in Guatemala to help him build a radio station. Shortly after that trip he took his first trip to El Salvador, and St. Mary’s parish elected to enter into a sister relationship with parishes in Calavera in El Salvador. Along with small delegations, Father Tom visited the communities twenty-eight times over the following years and raised funds for medical aid, schooling, nutrition programs and other needs.

Toward the end of his life, Father Tom spoke of having two families. His family in Calavera had given him the great gift of faith in humankind by showing him that humans can preserve hope, dignity and kindness despite the ordeals they suffer. Of his family of birth – mother, father and siblings – Father Tom said, “I had the greatest thing any child could have, I knew I was loved.”

He is survived by his sister Margaret (Gerald) Stawick of Indianapolis and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, and seven siblings, Patricia Dorich, Colette McCarey, Rita Swindall, John Royer, William Royer, James Royer and Joseph Royer.

Committal at St. Joseph’s Cemetery will follow Mass, after which there will be a reception at St. Mary’s parish hall in Canton.


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