Father Thomas. Photo courtesy of Brandon Thomas

Father Thomas. Photo courtesy of Brandon Thomas

A Catholic priest who served parishes in Petersburg and Wrangell died last night (Sunday night), 10 days after suffering a heart attack.

The Rev. Thomas Weise (Pronounced Wice), also known as Father Thomas, was pastor of St. Rose of Lima parish in Wrangell and St. Catherine of Siena parish in Petersburg. He also served at Juneau’s Cathedral of the Nativity.

The 46-year-old was hospitalized Nov. 25 while visiting family in Southern California. He died in San Luis, Obispo Sunday at about 10 p.m. surrounded by his family.

Rita Byrer is the Petersburg parish secretary and had known Weise for about ten years. She said he was loved by the congregation and deeply cared for.

“He was a warm, kind, gentle, very humble, caring person,” Byrer said. “He loved children, he loved people in general. He just always made you feel welcome. He especially loved little children.”

Weise timed flights and ferry trips so he could celebrate mass in both towns on the same Sunday. He was considered an outdoor enthusiast. He had been known to kayak between Petersburg and Wrangell for services.

He was ordained in the diocese in 2002.

Parishioner, Kate Kowalski had also known Weise for about ten years. She said it was a gift to know him and he did great work for the community.

“He did everything 100 percent,” Kowalski said. “He lived his life like that. I mean whether he was kayaking from Wrangell to Petersburg or climbing up Mt. Roberts or doing the insulation in the church in Wrangell or the insulation here he did everything 100 percent and with a lot of great spirit.”

Bishop Edward Burns with the Juneau Diocese is traveling to California. Burns calls Weise a true priest and says he loved living out his vocation.

“And he also had a real joy about being a priest, about being a disciple of Jesus Christ,” Burns said. “And he just lived that. At the same time, he always had this desire to help people, to reach out to them, and to invite them.”

A vigil for Weise will take place in San Luis Obispo on Monday, Dec. 14. His funeral will follow on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Dec. 16, there will be a memorial mass in Wrangell, Petersburg will have a memorial service Thursday Dec. 17, and the final service will be in Juneau Dec. 18.