Parish Dispatch: Father Tom Lucas S.J., St. Ignatius Loyola Parish, Sacramento, CA

July 14, 2022  •   LPi

Father Tom in front of church

We are so honored to work with vibrant parishes across the United States, each one working to bring the Kingdom of God to their neighborhoods. In the Diocese of Sacramento, Father Tom Lucas serves at St. Ignatius Loyola Parish in Sacramento. Here he answers some questions about his special parish. (Answers have been edited for length).

Q. Describe your parish demographic in 140 characters or less.
A. Suburban, mixed ethnicity but mostly white, well established (1954), well educated, some pockets of poverty.

Q. What makes your community unique?
A. We get people from all over the Sacramento Metro Area and beyond who like the kind of ministry we do, solid preaching, care for our neighbors, positive progressive spirit. Lots of alumni from Jesuit schools around the country as well.

Q. Why do most people visit your city?
A. It’s the state capital, and a good place to raise families. Don’t come in the middle of the summer, it’s an oven. A dry oven, but still an oven.

Q. What do people say when they visit your parish for the first time?
A. They like the warmth and hospitality we try to share.

Q. Where (and what) do you recommend for your best local eats?
A. Don Javi’s Taco Truck, and Falad’s Falafel Truck, both in the parking lot of the thrift store next door to the church. They come to all our parish picnics too. The Waffle House two doors down is also a favorite.

Q. What is the last film you saw that you would recommend to your parishioners?
A. I’m not a big movie goer, but returning to Sacramento where I grew up, I often recommend Lady Bird, a heartfelt coming-of-age film inspired by the girls’ catholic high school (St. Francis) that my sister attended.

Q. What is your most used App?
A. iBreviary and YouTube

Q. What is your most used emoji?
A. I use the gifs found in Messages all the time to lighten things up. Amazing what you can find.

Q. What is an underrated book of the Bible and why?
A. Acts of the Apostles. It shows that the Church has always been in crisis and was/is always helped by the Holy Spirit.

Q. What is an unexpected blessing of your priesthood?
A. Finding that the Spirit can work anywhere, in anyone, even through me.

Q. What’s the coolest thing about your parish?
A. 8 a.m. Mass during the school year (we have a large grammar school), little kids and old folks at mass together.

Q. Who in your community inspires you?
A. Some of our elders who have kept their faith despite great trials and losses, young parents who bring their kids to the sacraments.

Q. What evangelization risk have you taken in the past year that has born great fruit?
A. When I arrived in the midst of the pandemic (July 2020), I decided to revive our dormant St. Vincent de Paul Conference. I wasn’t sure it would work, but it has born huge fruit for our neighbors and for uniting our parish community.

I’d also add that we’ve just wrapped up a detailed parish survey/conversation process that has been very helpful for our ministry planning in the coming-out-of-COVID period. We now have a much clearer idea of what people want, need, and expect, and how they are ready to participate.

Q. What is your most innovative method of communication with your community?
A. We have the usual range of bulletin, website, social media. The most important “method” is to be transparent about what’s going on and what our needs are, and how God is working through the mess of it all.

Q. What is the best piece of ministry advice you have received?
A. Listen, listen, listen. And as St. Ignatius taught, always try to give the other the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are acting out of good will.

Q. What is important to you in a great parish website?
A. Ease of navigation, visually engaging with good (not schlocky) art, and easy to ready fonts. Lots of seniors scolded us until we put larger, clearer fonts in all our publications, print and digital.

Q. How do you personally use social media to communicate with your faithful?
A. Not personally, but my weekly message goes out on the parish media.

Thank you, Father Tom, for sharing your parish with us!

If you have a vibrant parish and would like to be featured in an upcoming Parish Dispatch or know where we can find a great falafel truck in your city, email:

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