Let us pray in thanksgiving for the life of our brother, Fr. James V. Lewis, S.J., who died on January 14, 2021, at Colombiere Center Jesuit Community in Clarkston, Michigan. He was 85 years old. May he rest in peace.
He entered the former Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus at Milford Novitiate on August 8, 1956, was ordained on May 30, 1969, and pronounced his final vows at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland on March 25, 1976. During regency, he taught English and Math at Saint Ignatius (1963-1966). He returned after ordination and taught math and theology for eight years.
Fr. Lewis was missioned to Saint Ignatius in the early 1990s. For the better part of a decade, he served mainly as Chaplain to faculty and staff. He established the Saint Ignatius Spirituality Program for Adults (SPA) program, actively recruiting faculty, staff, parents and friends to experience the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. The purpose was to familiarize lay people with the type of spirituality and prayer that St. Ignatius Loyola spent his lifetime developing and which resulted in the Spiritual Exercises.
It all started in 1998 when the Holy Spirit took charge and Fr. Lewis answered the request to start a program on the Spritiual Exercises for six women in the Loyola Society Mothers' Club. From those small beginnings and a "holy longing" grew a program that has now led thousands of people in the Saint Ignatius community to spiritual growth, discernment and a more intimate relationship with Jesus.
Written 500 years ago, the Spiritual Exercises stand firm as the very heart of an Ignatian Spirituality embraced by the Jesuits. Thanks to Fr. Lewis' humor and persistance, many people in our community have very fond memories of their time on SPA retreats through some challenging times.
Messages on social media following the news included many fond memories. One user wrote, "Fr. Lewis took an interest in my well being after my husband passed away and I was left with 4 school aged children. He offered me spiritual counseling and helped me so much (with a lot of laughing in-between). I will never forget how he enriched my life. He was definitely one of God's angels."
His charisma and talent for connecting with people won him many confidantes, bringing more people to spiritual direction. We at Saint Ignatius owe Fr. Lewis a great debt of gratitude for all that he did in his years of ministry here.
The wake will take place on Sunday, January 24, at 7 p.m., and the funeral Mass will be held on Monday, January 25, at 10:45 a.m. If you are unable to tune in live, the events will be available to view following the live broadcast.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.