When Fr. Kevin Tumback (Pastor, All Saints Parish in Lethbridge) speaks about his past, it’s clear that a pivotal figure is his father, Andrew Clement Tumback, known to all as Tiny.
Tiny was the second youngest of twelve children and spent most of his life farming in Eston, SK. He was married to Audrey for 61 years, had seven children (living) and died at the age of 93, having witnessed the ordination of two sons and the arrival of eight grandchildren. Yet these many achievements do not begin to capture the essence of a man who, according to Fr. Kevin, was introverted, reflective and well-read. “My father was liked and respected,” Fr. Kevin said, “his funeral was packed.” Tiny’s influence was perhaps felt most keenly by his children, whom he formed in faith, mostly by setting a good example.
Fr. Kevin shared a seminal incident from his youth which speaks volumes. After an infraction, young Kevin was punished by having to clean out the chicken coop, not the Tumback coop but the neighbour’s. “It was hot and stinky work,” Fr. Kevin recalled. “It was my punishment but Dad was working right there beside me the whole time.” Tiny was instinctively demonstrating the way God the Father never leaves us, even as we face the consequences of our own sins. Though a cradle Catholic, Tiny didn’t take his faith for granted. He had a firm devotion to the Rosary, the Sacred Heart and especially the Eucharist. He was an altar server well into his senior years to demonstrate one’s duty to participate at the Holy Mass. He also helped out neighbouring farmers and delivered eggs and milk from the Tumback animals to needy families.
Tiny Tumback wasn’t a demonstrative person. He practiced what Fr. Kevin refers to as the “ruffled hair” form of affection. “Dad treated each of us differently… but we all understood it. You need to acknowledge (each child’s) strengths and weaknesses and Dad was good for that… One of my father’s nicest compliments, the day after I was ordained was, ‘Well son, if you’d gone straight from high school into the seminary you would have made a really lousy priest. But with your years of experience you’ll make a good priest.’” Tiny was referring to Fr. Kevin having worked 15 years in the corporate sector before joining the seminary.
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers