Jim Field, rest in peace

Jim Field, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston, died this morning, at the age of 58. He was a pastor and teacher deeply committed to the liturgical renewal which arose from Vatican II. Many knew Jim from his work at FDLC, his workshops and writing, and his service and leadership while diocesan liturgy director in Boston. His was a strong and faithful witness.

Here is his obituary from a local paper: http://www.wickedlocal.com/melrose/features/x1143358134/Rev-James-Field-of-Incarnation-Parish-in-Melrose-dies-after-bout-with-cancer

The Boston Globe also wrote a fine story about him a year ago, as he faced terminal cancer yet continued to serve his parish: http://www.boston.com/yourtown/melrose/articles/2009/06/07/melrose_priests_terminal_cancer_brings_new_life_to_his_calling/

The first time I heard Jim speak was a talk on the Paschal Triuduum. He was low-key, crystal clear, very intelligent, and spoke out of a compelling pastoral vision. I eventually got to know Jim better through our common work on the North American Forum on the Catechumenate, where he was a team member and where we also served together on the Board of Directors. It was at those dinners after long meetings in DC that I experienced his (Irish) gift for story-telling and humor.

Jim was a good man, a fine colleague, a staunch ally and advocate for what was best in the liturgical renewal. I mourn his passing. Yet I cannot but believe he now shares in the banquet for which the Paschal Triduum is but the preparation.


  1. The people of Incarnation parish of Melrose Mass., the Archdiocese of Boston and all of us who still believe in the liturgical reform of Vatican II are mourning the loss of this good person. His passion for liturgy inspired many of us. I am grateful, as one of his former liturgy students, for his life. May he now rest in peace!

  2. I only had occasion to meet him once, at his parish, and to exchange a few emails. He was a kind and gracious man who will be mourned by many!

  3. I, too, will deeply miss Jim Field’s passion for good worship, his playful wit, and his pastoral heart. I had the privilege of doing a program in his parish recently and spent rich time in conversation with him, partially speaking about his illness and what it had taught him, but mostly about how life was going in the parish and what he hoped for the future. Typical of him, he didn’t let his illness stand in the way of hosting a great meal for myself and friends marked by great food and drink and lively conversation. I pray that he may know the fullness of joy at the table of the Lord that he served so long and so well.

  4. There are moments when professing my belief in the communion of saints is a profound source of comfort and hope. Jim Field’s death is such a moment. “Pray that I go to the Lord with grace and peace,” he said in his last email to me, and I almost laughed aloud. (Jim would love a good laugh, even now.) OF COURSE you will will go in grace and peace, Jim! You have lived faithfully with your God in grace and peace. You are taking this final journey with God and us in grace and peace. You will go in grace and peace because that is who you are!
    I had the joy and privilege of becoming Jim’s friend as we served together on the Board of Directors for the North American Forum on the Catechumenate. His “famous” stories made us laugh heartily as they also laser-beamed us to the heart of the true, the good, the beautiful…and the very human! Those stories, his humor, his passion for good liturgy, his unwavering hope, and his deep love of life and the people he encountered here are among the treasures he leaves.
    In December I spent four days with Jim at his parish in Melrose. There I got to witness first hand the deep relationship between pastor and people, the profound love they shared, and the strong, vibrant community of faith and justice they created together.
    May the God in whom Jim so trusted welcome him into the fullness of light and life. To honor Jim, I suggest we each enjoy telling or hearing a good story, and have a good, loud, hearty, paschal laugh.

  5. I have known Jim Field since his days serving on the staff of the (then) Notre Dame Center for Pastoral Liturgy. Across all those years I have always been deeply struck by the depth of commitment to liturgy and ministry that Jim possessed, and this allied with such a splendid, self-deprecating sense of humor. The stories never ceased when in his company, and even the sad ones were so often turned to laughter, occasionally and of necessity of the gallows variety.

    Jim often claimed, and in public, that it was the liturgy that saved them at Incarnation Parish in Melrose Mass., in the midst of the Boston sex abuse meltdown that broke over the Archdiocese just as he became pastor.

    One could not help but admire him, but, more important, also love him. I pray that Jim and the liturgy saints that have preceded in him do not rest too much but remain busy about the state of the liturgy of our Church, praying for conversion, conversion, conversion….

    Please pray with me:

    Lord our God,
    the death of our brother Jim
    recalls our human condition
    and the brevity of our lives on earth.
    But for those who believe in your love
    death is not the end,
    nor does it destroy the bonds
    that you forge in our lives.
    We share the faith of your Son’s disciples
    and the hope of the children of God.
    Bring the light of Christ’s resurrection
    to this time of testing and pain
    as we pray for Jim and for those who love him,
    through Christ our Lord.

    Order of Christian Funerals no…

  6. I met Fr. Jim at a Forum workshop in Tucson, AZ in 2007. He left such a footprint on my soul…He continued to shepherd his flock until the very end. We have a new wonderful saint to intercede for us.

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