Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Third anniversary of the death of Jim Harris OP

Today is the third anniversary of the death of Jim Harris OP.

Some months ago a brother of Jim's died. May he rest in peace.

Below is an appreciation of Jim, which appeared in The Irish Times on March 17, 2014.

Michael Commane
Jim Harris was an original. But above all he was a kind man, who had a gift for supporting those on the margins, those who depended on the help of a wise companion.

James Harris was a Dominican priest, who died suddenly at 75, sitting in the Dominican church in Newbridge, on Saturday February 22.

He was born in Caragh, Co. Kildare in 1938. His father Tom was the first Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare, serving from 1927 to 1957. Jim’s mother was Hannah O'Sullivan from Aughacasla in Kerry.

Their son was a boarder at the Dominican-run Newbridge College and from there joined the Order, making his first profession in Cork in 1958.

He studied philosophy and theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Tallaght, completing his theological studies in Rome. He did a BA and H.Dip in Education at UCG, before taking up a teaching post at Newbridge College, where he taught Latin, Geography and Religious Studies.

Jim had a mischievous sense of humour, often used to mock the status quo. On one occasion while teaching in Newbridge he set a Latin exam. On one side of the paper was a Latin text to be translated into English, on the reverse side another text, this time an English text to be translated into Latin. Not all the students realised it was the same text.

After Newbridge he moved to Galway, where as prior, he oversaw the building of a new priory.

With the job completed he moved to Athy, again calling in the architects and builders to build a priory beside the Dominican church on the Barrow.

He spent 18 years in Waterford, where he rebuilt a new priory and was a loyal supporter of the St Vincent de Paul society.

So much of his generosity was done in the greatest of confidentiality.

While he enjoyed his teaching and building projects, Jim excelled in his kindness and support of those he encountered. And that was a large number of people, whether past pupils, friends, family, but maybe above all, those who needed a shoulder on whom to cry.

The underdog, the person in trouble, knew they had his ear.

He was ordained a priest on July 12, 1964 but coming from a republican background he never admitted anything special about the day.

He had a wide interest in sport. His first love was rugby. Many of his contemporaries tell great stories of his adventures on the field.

He is survived by his sisters Annie and Kitty, brothers Michael and Sean. His sister Betty, a nurse, sustained serious injuries in Nigeria while working as a lay missionary. Betty died in 2008.

He is predeceased by his sister Mary, who died in 1994 and his brother Joe, who died in 1951. Jim's mother died in her 105th year.

Jim touched the lives of many people with his grace

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