Thomas Williams was born on Shrove Tuesday, 10 February 1948, at 2A Ashfield Gardens (first landing, second house), Silvester Street, off Scotland Road, Liverpool. His father, Richard, was a bargee based in Stanley Dock, and the locks in Lightbody Street, who later advanced to become a Checker in Box 6, based in Gladstone and West Lancashire Docks between 1963 and 1975. His mother, Margaret, was a school cleaner for Ashfield Street Primary and Archbishop Whiteside Schools. Bishop Williams is the eldest of four children, sisters: Margaret and Marie and brother: Richard.
Bishop Williams was an altar server at St Sylvester’s and entered Junior Seminary, to train for the priesthood, at Christleton Hall, Chester, when he was 13 years old in 1961. At the time Archbishop Heenan informed him that he was ‘a bit old!’ After five years of study there under the Headship of Father Tom Hennessy of the Salvatorian Fathers he went to the English College in Lisbon, Portugal, in September 1966 where he studied Philosophy and Theology until the closure of the College in 1971. He completed his studies at St Joseph’s College, Upholland, the then major Seminary for the Archdiocese of Liverpool.
Thomas Williams was ordained Deacon on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 8 December 1971, by Bishop Joseph Gray, then Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool. As Deacon he served for six months in the St Matthew’s area of Skelmersdale before he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop George Andrew Beck on 27 May 1972 in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool.
His first appointment was to St Francis of Assisi, Garston in September 1972. He remembers his work there well and says: ‘I will always look back on that parish as my first home as a priest, and my first love’. A year later he took on the added responsibility of being Chaplain to Bellerive Grammar School, a post which he held for seven ‘happy’ years.
In January 1975 he was appointed to Sacred Heart Parish, Hall Lane, Liverpool where he served with Father Bernard Dickinson and Father Bernard Jackson. The two assistant priests served as Chaplains to the Primary Schools and the Royal Liverpool Hospital or ‘Old Royal’. Bishop Tom says: ‘This was the beginning of nine years as Hospital Chaplain, at the Old Royal for four years and the New Royal for five, and the home of many fond and treasured memories’.
In 1983 Bishop Williams served at Our Lady of Walsingham parish in Netherton and undertook supply work at St Jude’s, Wigan and Holy Spirit, Netherton. In 1984 he was asked by Bishop Kevin O’Connor to take responsibility for Our Lady Immaculate Parish in St Domingo Road. The ancient Chapel (designed by Pugin and the Lady Altar of the original Liverpool Catholic Cathedral planned in the nineteenth century) was condemned as unusable and Father Tom oversaw the conversion of the Parish Centre into a church which was opened by Archbishop Derek Worlock in 1986. In 1989 he was appointed Parish Priest of St Anthony’s in Scotland Road, Liverpool and assumed additional responsibility for Our Lady Immaculate Parish in 1999.
During his ministry Bishop Williams has also been a member of the Archdiocesan Finance Advisory Committee (appointed 1977); Secretary and Treasurer of the Fund for retired and sick clergy (1993); a member of the Liverpool City Centre Ecumenical Team (1996) and a member of the Archdiocesan Building Projects Committee (1986). He has also been a Governor of Our Lady Immaculate Primary School (1984); a Governor of Mother Teresa Primary School (1989) and of Campion High School (1986 to 1999) being their Chair from 1989 to 1999. He has been a member of FLAME for twenty-seven years travelling to Lourdes with children and young people with disabilities and has also worked with the St Anthony’s Lourdes Trust finding funding to train local teenagers to work with young people with disabilities in Lourdes. He has also been Chair of Project Jennifer looking at the re-development of the Scotland Road and Great Homer Street district, since it began in 2002.
He is currently Chair of the Healthcare Reference Group of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
He was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Liverpool on 27 February 2013 following the retirement of Archbishop Patrick Kelly.
His hobbies include a weekly game of golf and he is a member of the Southport and Ainsdale Golf Club. He enjoys horse racing and is a fanatic Evertonian and until the onset of regular Sunday and mid-week fixtures was a season ticket holder for many years. He also says he ‘must’ have one week’s skiing per year!