Tom Vais was born in Winnipeg in January 1961 to The Rev. Dr. George and Faith Vais. From infancy, he was nurtured in Christian faith within the home of his loving family, and in the congregations served by his father.
Upon graduation with a Master of Divinity degree from Knox College, Toronto, Tom served from 1990 to 2007 as Minister of Caledonia Presbyterian Church in the Presbytery of Hamilton. In 2007, he and his wife, The Rev. Dr. Heather Vais, formed a vital team ministry at Thornhill Presbyterian Church in the Presbytery of Oak Ridges.
Tom was often called upon to serve the Boards and Committees of the National Church where his talents for fair hearing and careful speaking were put to good use. He sat, most notably, on the Assembly Council, the Canada Ministries Advisory Council, and as the Convenor of the Committee on Education and Reception. In 2011, he was appointed to the Board of The Presbyterian Church Building Corporation. He became its chair in 2019. He was the Moderator of the Presbytery of Hamilton in 2005 and the Presbytery of Oak Ridges in 2012. Whenever Tom served as ‘Dean’ at gatherings of Canada Youth, young people and fellow team mates alike responded to his good nature. They respected his deep sensibility. All who knew Tom quickly came to value his calm demeanour and dependability.
From his earliest years, Tom acquired a love for outdoor life. He spent many summers at his family’s home in Vankoughnet, Ontario, working at his uncle’s sawmill in his youth, and returning every year to be in the company of his extended family. Tom treasured nature’s tranquility and beauty. He loved to view the lake from his dock at the cottage. He spent many happy days there with his beloved wife, Heather, and his children Brett and Elizabeth. He gathered often, too, with a group of dear friends he’d known since his years as a student at Knox College, Toronto. Tom read avidly, and his appetite for recorded and live music was just as insatiable. He was active at the gym, on a mountain bike, and exercising at home.
Tom’s younger brother, Chris – “my best friend,” Tom maintained – had entered the ministry of The Presbyterian Church in Canada a few years before Tom. In 2002, Chris died from the afflictions of A.L.S. (‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease’). Tom displayed his strong allegiance to Chris and his wife, Susan, and their daughter, Clare, through every stage of that illness, walking with them in faith and devotion. Tom was an eminently fair man. He treated everyone with grace and equal respect. He was a devoted father and loving husband.
Tom loved being a Minister of the Church of Jesus Christ. He was attentive to his parishioners, faithful to his calling, and loyal to his friends. In the pulpit he was a clear and compelling preacher, whose words were always marked by the grace, mercy, and peace of his Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Tom was predeceased by his dear brother and best friend, The Rev. Dr. Christopher Vais, and by his mother Faith Vais. He will be deeply missed by his beloved wife The Rev. Dr. Heather Vais; his children Brett and Elizabeth; his father, The Rev. Dr. George Vais; his sisters Nancy (Lyndon Brown) and Michelle; and by his sister-in-law Susan McLeod. He is also missed by his nieces and nephews, Nelson, Jenna, Clare, Hunter and Cassidy. Tom will also be deeply missed by his brothers and sisters-in-law and their children and grand children.
Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)
Visitation will be held on Friday, September 25, 2020 from 2-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. at the R.S. Kane Funeral Home, 6150 Yonge Street, Toronto. Please be aware that number restrictions are in place. A private Funeral Service will be held on Saturday, September 26, 2020 at 4:30pm EST at R.S. Kane Funeral Home. Here’s a link to the Live Stream . Private family interment. If desired, donations to Thornhill Presbyterian Church or ALS Society of Canada.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)