Carrying on Father Tom's legacy

My good friend Father Tom Schaefer passed away a few days ago. He was Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs at La Roche University in Pittsburgh. He also was parish priest at both St. John the Baptist and St. John Chrysostom in Pittsburgh.

A true champion of study abroad, Tom loved everything international, but he held a special place in his heart for France and Africa. I had the privilege of spending time with him in Paris, and his cultural knowledge of France and his fluency in French astounded me. On one occasion, we were leading a group of educators around Sorbonne University with the local custodian who spoke no English. Tom simultaneously translated what he said perfectly with no prior preparation. It was beautiful.

Over the years, Tom listened to many children’s folktales from Central Africa in the local language, Sango. He translated them into French and English and published them. I had the pleasure of reading them to my children and their friends at school. They are wonderful, and I would recommend them to anyone. 

Tom was the eternal optimist. We worked on many projects together—some successfully, and others not so much. Together, we tried to lease a disused convent in Paris so that we could offer it as a base for students on study abroad courses. In the end, the French bureaucracy put an end to that dream, but Tom saw it as a lesson not as a failure. 

His big study abroad success was embedding the cost of study abroad in the tuition fee of all students at La Roche University, thereby giving students extra incentive to travel. Together, we have sent hundreds of students abroad, changing their lives in such positive ways. His friend and colleague Nicole Gable plays a huge part in this, and she surely will miss him. Together, we are working on a trip to Greece with LaRoche students, which we will run in his honor. 

Tom was a true scholar, musician, linguist, entrepreneur, gourmet, bon vivant and good friend to many. When I started Hart Travel Partners,Tom was a big inspiration, and over the years, he continued to be my close advisor and friend. We played music together, had lots of wonderful meals, lots of conversations and, of course, lots of travel memories that I will always treasure.

Together, our team will take up the torch and continue your legacy, Tom. Rest in peace, my friend.

Steve Hart
Hart Travel Partners