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Father Tom Geelan dies Sept. 26

RUTHVEN – Father Thomas E. Geelan, 78, of Ruthven died Sept. 26, at the Palo Alto County Hospital, Emmetsburg.

Services were Sept. 30 at Sacred Heart Church, Ruthven, with Bishop Walker Nickless as celebrant and Father Clem Currans as concelebrant. Burial was in Calvary Cemetery, Ruthven, under the direction of Martin-Mattice Funeral Home, Ruthven.

Thomas E. Geelan, son of Francis P. and Mary Ellen (Doyle) Geelan, was born March 18, 1936, near Ruthven. He grew up on the family farm and attended Silver Lake High School in Ayrshire, graduating in 1954. Following graduation, Father Geelan continued his education at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in philosophy in 1958. He then entered Mount Saint Bernard Seminary in Dubuque, where he studied theology. Father Geelan was ordained a Catholic priest on May 26, 1962, at the Cathedral of the Epiphany, Sioux City.

Father Geelan also earned a Master of Science degree in 1961, majoring in educational administration from Creighton University in Omaha. Other universities he attended were the University of San Francisco, Loyola University in Chicago, Ill., University of Dayton (Ohio) and Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind. while on a C.C.F.M. sabbatical. During his educational career, Father Geelan was certified as an Iowa Permanent Professional Educator with endorsements as a teacher, principal and superintendent. He held approvals for Latin and psychology.

Father Geelan’s assignments included: assistant pastor, Cherokee Immaculate Conception and faculty Cherokee Immaculate Conception High School, 1962-68; faculty/administration Algona Garrigan High School, 1968-71; assistant pastor, Wesley St. Joseph, 1968-70; administrator St. Benedict Parish, 1970-71; assistant pastor Bancroft St. John, 1971-75; faculty/administration Bancroft St. John High School, 1971-75; superintendent Le Mars Gehlen High School, 1975-80; superintendent Carroll Kuemper High School, 1981-89; pastor Varina St. Columbkille and faculty Storm Lake St. Mary, 1990; pastor Boone Sacred Heart, 1990-96; pastor Sioux City Blessed Sacrament, 1996-2002; and pastor Graettinger Immaculate Conception, from 2002 to 2007 when he retired.

Father Geelan served on numerous diocesan boards and committees, as well as many service organizations. He was a licensed pilot and active member of the Priests’ Pilots Association, having traveled all over the United States to annual meetings.

Survivors include a brother, Leo Geelan of Ruthven; a nephew, Marty Geelan and his wife, Jess of Ruthven; two nieces, Beth Alesch and her husband, Mike of LaCrosse, Wis., and Amy Schaben and her husband, Eric of Omaha; as well as many other relatives.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Francis and Mary Geelan and sister-in-law, Kathy Geelan.

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