James O’Leary was born on October 23, 1935, at St. Lawrence Hospital in Lansing, MI. It was an unusual birth. I had two companions – female. We were the first triplets born in the history of Lansing. We grew up together with the natural ups and downs that children have. By junior high school we were appreciating each other and enjoying being triplets. We were a very Catholic family; we went to a Catholic School always. By the end of the 10th grade, I had decided to look seriously into the priesthood. I entered the seminary. When we were growing up, my Mother, a teacher by trade, brought us up on Shakespeare. I was familiar with Julius Caesar and Hamlet. I mention this because it had such a positive effect on my life. In my retirement, in my 80’s, I am never far from Shakespeare; this was a precious gift from my mother. I spent 10 long years in Seminary, the last 4 in Rome. I was ordained a priest in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on December 21, 1961. Then adult life began. Throughout my life, I served as a priest in 10 parishes in the Lansing and Kalamazoo Dioceses. At times I struggled. I was addicted to cigarettes and alcohol. The smoking ended with a heart attack at age 41. After that, good health could not be taken for granted; I had to work at it. I stopped drinking at age 45. I found that as an alcoholic I had developed unhealthy ways of thinking. Finally, after much struggle, I entered into a treatment center for alcoholic priests. It was God’s gift to me in my 50’s. The treatment center was called “Guest House." It was a treatment based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous; the 12 steps are a system of spirituality. I was reborn at Guest House. I started my priesthood all over again. I began to enjoy life in a new way. Since Guest House, I have been flying. I enjoy life and I enjoy my contact with people. I did not retire until I was 84, simply because I was having too much fun. Since retirement, I am kind of a hermit. I rent a small house, which I love. I read heavy duty spirituality, which is the richness of Catholic History. I meditate on Shakespeare and William Butler Yeats -- he’s a crazy Irish poet, my kind of guy! I await death and union with God -- “Bring it on!”
Rev. Fr. James S. O’Leary Passed away Friday February 3, 2023 at Kairos Dwelling. He was born October 23, 1935 in Lansing the son of Vincent and Genevieve (Skadan) O’Leary. Surviving is his brother, David O’Leary; sister, Eileen Casey; many nieces & nephews; beloved friend Ann McKay Bryson of Alaska and her family. He was preceded in death by a brother Joseph O’Leary; two sisters, Mary Fiebig, Jean Gorman.
Friends will be received 3-8 pm Wednesday February 8, 2023 at St. Ambrose Catholic Church, 1628 East G Avenue Parchment, MI where a vigil service will be recited at 7:30 pm. Visitation will continue 8-10 am Thursday at St. Augustine Cathedral, 542 W. Michigan Ave. Kalamazoo, MI. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated following at 10 am. Interment will be in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. A luncheon will be served after the interment at St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Parchment. Arrangements by Parchment Redmond Funeral Home. www.redmondfuneralhomes.net