Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
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Father James McGreevy, former missionary in Guatemala, dies April 18
the Inland Register
(From the May 2, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)
Father James McGreevy, a priest of the Diocese of Spokane since May 23, 1964, died April 18 in Spokane after a battle with cancer.
The vigil service was at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 25, at St. Agnes Parish, Ritzville. The funeral Mass was celebrated the following morning at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes, Spokane.
Father McGreevy was pastor of the parishes in Ritzville, Sprague, Lind and Washtucna when his illness was diagnosed and he was forced to step down from active parish ministry.
He grew up in Tekoa, Wash., before entering the seminary. He studied at Gonzaga University, then St. Philip Neri Seminary, Boston, and St. Thomas Seminary, Kenmore, Wash., before his ordination.
His first assignments were as assistant pastor at St. Augustine Parish, Spokane, and St. Patrick Parish, Pasco.
In 1968 he went to the diocese's mission in Guatemala for the first time. He stayed there for over three years.
He returned to the Spokane Diocese and was named pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Othello, in 1972.
In another six years, he returned to Guatemala.
This time he stayed until September 1983. A back injury, aggravated by jeep travel over rough highland roads, forced his return.
He reflected on the mission work during an Inland Register interview in 1983.
Though it took time, "I got used to my work. And when I got used to it, I liked it. My health improved because I walked a lot and because I was not able to pamper myself with what we take for granted in the States."
He said, "A part of me will always remain there with the Guatemalan Indians."
Father McGreevy came back to the diocese as associate pastor of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes. He later served as pastor of the parishes in Colville, Kettle Falls, and Northport; of Dayton and Waitsburg; and, finally, Ritzville, Lind, Sprague, and Washtucna, in 1995.
He is survived by two sisters, Sue Heaton (married to Robert Heaton) and Lynne Jones (married to Edward Jones), both of Seattle.
When Father McGreevy left Guatemala for the first time, in 1972, one of the School Sisters of Notre Dame serving there, Sister Roberta Winkels, wrote that "His greatest contribution lay not in what he did (he organized no great socio-economic project nor breath-taking catechetical program), but in what he was - a unifier. Those of us who live in the Nahualá (Guatemala) parish and worked with him closely saw Father Jim as a friend to all, as one who broke down the barriers between politico-religious groups and promoted mutual respect and understanding between such groups. His example of availability to all was his chief preaching tool; his message, one of love and unity. We will miss him."
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