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In Memoriam

Fr. James Sheppard died peacefully in the Lord on 3 July at René Goupil House in Pickering. He was in his 87th yearand in his 47th year as a Jesuit. The son of Sydney Sheppard and Clare Balfour, he was born at Burnham Norton, United Kingdom. He studied Classics at Oxford University from 1956 to 1960. Jim moved to Canada and entered the Society at Guelph on August 27, 1977. After pronouncing first vows on August 28, 1979, he spent a year at Regis College, Toronto, for studies and pastoral ministry. Then in 1980 he did a two–year stint as assistant pastor of St. Ignatius Parish, Winnipeg. Theology followed at Regis College for three years. On May 3, 1985 he was ordained at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Toronto.

Jim, expressing an interest in Base Communities, was invited by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to make a tour of several countries ringing the South American continent. So he journeyed in 1985 to Belo Horizonte, Brazil, for two years of study and ministry. He became fluent in Portuguese and for the next twenty years was involved with base communities in both South and North America.

Beginning in 1987 Jim was posted in several places: two years working at the Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice, Toronto; pastoral ministry at St. Andrew’s Parish in Thunder Bay, then in St. Peter’s parish in Nanaimo BC, then residing in Saint Francis Xavier Community in Vancouver beginning in 1998. During all this time, he was Director of the Jesuit Basic Church Community Project, bringing the Latin American experience of base ecclesial communities to a North American context. It was during this time that Bishop Remi DeRoo invited Jim to participate in communal spiritual discernment in the Diocese of Victoria. In 2003 he was appointed Superior of the Jesuit Community on the west coast, where he conducted retreats and engaged in pastoral ministry.

In 2006-2007, he was superior of Cardoner House in Toronto, but experienced ill health. In 2007 Jim returned to Vancouver and served as administrator of St. Ignatius of Antioch Parish. His presence initiated the association between the parish and the Society of Jesus, setting the stage for the Jesuits to accept a pastoral administration in Vancouver. The plan to bring together the two Catholic worshipping communities at the University of British Columbia, St. Mark’s College and St. Ignatius of Antioch Parish, was completed in 2011, and he began to serve the residents and students at UBC and the university hospital system. In 2013 he wrote and published The Word for us – Spirituality and Community.

Moving east, Jim settled in 2017 at La Storta House in Pickering with ministry at Manresa Retreat House. Being fluent in French, he moved in 2020 for two years to Maison Bellarmin in Montreal. But precarious health required a final move to René Goupil House in the summer of 2022. Never of a robust constitution, he nevertheless managed to live a full life, always centred on his vision of the Catholic basic community model, adaptable to every region.

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