On June 1, Archbishop José H. Gomez will ordain 11 new priests for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

In the days leading up to their ordination, we’ll be introducing a new soon-to-be Father. Los Angeles, meet your new priests!

Age: 29

Hometown: Glendora

Home parish: St. Dorothy, Glendora

Parish assignment: St. Philomena, Carson

There was a lot of quitting involved in Thomas Green’s road to priesthood. 

First he quit college football, then college itself. A few years later, he quit seminary, and eventually quit his job as a football coach and high school teacher only to re-enter the seminary. 

Thankfully, the quitting stopped there. 

Green played in three games as an offensive lineman for the Citrus College Owls before a fateful injury.

Before all those decisions, “Tommy” grew up the youngest of three in a nominally Catholic family. That changed when his mother had a life-changing experience at a Cursillo retreat. As the Greens became more involved in church, Tommy became an altar server, a leader in the confirmation program, and even active in the Divine Mercy prayer group. 

After graduating from Glendora High School, Green got the chance to pursue his dream of playing college football. At 18, he enrolled at nearby Citrus College to play as an offensive lineman, hoping to catch the eye of recruiters and land a big-time scholarship.

It only took three games for that dream to fall apart. Green was blocking on a play when an opposing lineman jumped to tackle the running back — but crashed into the side of Green’s left knee instead. 

“It was like Rice Krispies’ ‘Snap, Crackle, and Pop,’ ” joked Green when asked to describe the impact that tore just about every ligament with initialisms found in his left knee: ACL, MCL, PCL, and meniscus. 

Green remembered crying on the sideline, sensing that his Heisman dreams were over. Later, while laying in bed after the surgery to rebuild his knee, he told God: “OK, maybe there’s something else you have in store for me. Let your will be done in my life.”

As he drew closer to God through adoration and daily Mass during his recovery, the thought of the priesthood appeared. After confiding in an ex-seminarian friend and a few priests, he decided to enter the seminary. 

“Go change the world, man,” he was surprised to hear his football coach say when Green told him why he was quitting the football team. 

Green (right) as a small child with his brother, sister, and parents.

From there Green enrolled at Juan Diego House to finish his college studies. But after a year at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo he began to struggle with his vocational discernment, and concluded God must want something else for him — so he quit. 

Soon after, Green got a job teaching and coaching football — two things he loved doing — at St. Paul’s High School in Santa Fe Springs. He dated a bit as well, but the thought of the priesthood kept coming back. 

One day during a prayer break, he struck up a conversation with a priest in the high school chapel. “The joys outweigh the struggles,” confided a priest to Green about his own vocation. 

The words echoed in Green’s head. Returning to his classroom, he came upon a piece of paper left by a student that read, “Come follow me.”

The message was clear enough to make Green quit — again. He re-entered formation at St. John’s, and hasn’t looked back since: “When you give everything to God, he can never be outdone in generosity,” he said with certainty. 

Green’s biggest discovery has been to find that generosity hiding behind seemingly tragic events in life. 

“Now that I look back at it, when I thought my life was falling apart, it was really kind of falling together,” Green said. 

MVP Tommy Green goes for a basket during the Feb. 17, 2023, Priests vs. Seminarians basketball game. (John McCoy)

As if to prove that point, the imposing ex-lineman with a hearty laugh still enjoyed athletic success while in seminary anyway, winning the game MVP award at two consecutive archdiocesan Priests vs. Seminarians basketball games. 

Today, he credits former spiritual director Father Ricky Viveros — “an incredible influence and incredible friend” — as well as Fathers Jim Anguiano and Ron Clark as invaluable mentors during formation. 

As a priest at the parish level, Green said he looks forward to “finding opportunities to bring people together” to find friendship with God and each other — and is ready to put his cooking skills into practice if needed.

“That’s what Jesus did,” said Green. “He invested in people, in relationships, and it was through those relationships that he changed a lot of lives. He certainly changed mine.”