Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of Fr. James V. Lewis, SJ, who died on January 14, 2021, at Colombiere Center Jesuit Community in Clarkston, Michigan. He was 85 years old. May he rest in peace.
Jim is survived by his sister, Ellen Rose Zoller, and a large clan of nieces and nephews.
Jim was born in Sewickley, Pennsylvania on December 22, 1935, and he grew up in Cleveland. After two years at Case Institute of Technology (now Case Western University), he entered the former Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus at Milford Novitiate on August 8, 1956. Jim was ordained on May 30, 1969, made tertianship during 1974-1975, and pronounced final vows at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland on March 25, 1976.
Jim entered the former Detroit Province at Milford, Ohio. His juniorate was at Milford (1958-1959) and the newly constructed Colombiere Center (1959-1960). Jim studied philosophy at West Baden College in West Baden Springs, Indiana, and theology at Bellarmine School of Theology, in North Aurora, Illinois.
During regency, Jim taught English and Math at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland (1963-1966). He returned to Saint Ignatius after ordination and taught math and theology for for eight years. In 1978, Jim became the rector of the St. John’s Jesuit community in Toledo, Ohio, and he taught Math and theology in the high school.
After a well earned sabbatical (1984-1985), the 50-year-old Jim decided that high school teaching was for younger people and decided to focus his energies on pastoral and spiritual ministries. He was associate pastor at Gesu Church in Toledo (1985-1989) before working at Jesuit Renewal House in Parma/Cleveland for two years. In 1991, Jim returned to Saint Ignatius where he was a student counselor and faculty chaplain (1991-2002). While at Saint Ignatius, he also established and was director of the Spirituality Program for Adults (SPA), a very successful program which actively recruits faculty, staff, parents, and friends to experience the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The purpose of SPA is to familiarize lay people with the type of spirituality and prayer that St. Ignatius spent his lifetime developing and which resulted in the Spiritual Exercises. In 2010, Jim was missioned to Colombiere Center to care for his health.
Jim was a devoted priest who loved Christ and the Society of Jesus. He enjoyed life, almost always wore a smile on his face, and frequently kidded people. Not only would he kid others, but he enjoyed being kidded by others. For example, when he was teaching English, Jesuits in his community would kid Jim for teaching books that he had never read. Also, many Jesuits at Saint Ignatius High School kidded Jim—who graduated from St. Edward High School, a rival to St. Ignatius—that he did not graduate from the “correct” high school in Cleveland, but at least he was working in the “right” school now.
Jim was gregarious and loved to get together with others. Even when Jim’s memory began to fail, he would occasionally rally and become more animated when someone engaged him in conversation. All who encountered Jim knew that he was interested in and cared about them. When Jim was director of SPA, he would often go to the Saint Ignatius bookstore in the morning and say to the mothers of students (who were purchasing something for their sons or family) “It looks like you need a spa.” This opening line “hooked” the women and allowed Jim to begin a discussion with them about St. Ignatius and Ignatian spirituality.
Note: Due to COVID-19, the visitation and funeral are for Jim’s community only. Both can be viewed on the Colombiere Center YouTube Channel.
Sunday, January 24, 2021
7:00 p.m. (EST)
Monday, January 25, 2021
10:45 a.m. (EST)