Jesuit Father James P. Walsh died on April 18, 2015 at Jesuit Hall in St. Louis, following a long illness. Jim was 80 years old, a Jesuit for 61 years and a priest for 48 years.
Born in Denver, Colorado on Nov. 12, 1934, he attended public grammar school before enrolling at Regis Jesuit High, from which he graduated in 1952. He entered the Society at St. Stanislaus Seminary, Florissant, Missouri, on Aug. 17, 1953. After first vows and juniorate studies at Florissant, his philosophy studies were at Fusz Memorial and he earned a B.A. in philosophy and letters and the Ph.L. For his regency, he taught at St. John’s College in Belize. He studied theology at St. Mary’s College in St. Marys, Kansas, and was ordained on June 7, 1966. His tertianship was at Cushing, Oklahoma. He pronounced his final vows on Dec. 8, 1972.
Fr. Walsh’s priestly ministry can be seen as divided between Belize (1968-82) and pastoral ministry, mainly in Colorado (1982-2004). Much of his ministry in Belize was in Corozal, first as associate pastor (1969-77) and then as pastor (1978-82). He then served as associate pastor at parishes in Denver, Pueblo, and Aurora. He was pastor at Annunciation Parish in Springfield, Colorado (1989-96) before moving to Xavier Jesuit Center in Denver. In 2004, he was missioned to Fusz Pavilion.
As a newly ordained priest he went to Lynam Agricultural College in the Stann Creek Valley, a very challenging assignment. Very likely it was there that he developed his love for the hard-working farmers. When he moved to Corozal town, he was a zealous missionary to all of the small rural communities of Mestizos and Maya. He built a number of churches and encouraged the growth of Catholic schools. One of his goals was to help educate the village school teachers as religion teachers. Realizing he needed help, he went to Morelia, Mexico, where he recruited a group of women religious, Madrecitas Guadalupana, to come to Corozal. He took great care of them, and would make regular trips to Morelia to report to their Mother Superior in order to make sure the sisters would keep coming to Belize. They are still a major religious force in northern Belize.
Ministering in Colorado, Fr. Walsh was able to use his fluency in Spanish to preach the word to those who might not have otherwise been able to hear it in their native language, with a special care for those in prisons or detention centers. Perhaps because his own path was not always a smooth one, he had a special concern for those on the margins and could show them great compassion.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Joseph Patrick Walsh and Ruth Madison Walsh and his brother, Jesuit Father J. Patrick Walsh. He is survived by his sister, Mary Louise Day.
Memorial gifts may be made to the USA Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus at 4511 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 or through this website.