2014 January 14
The sad news of the death of Father James Profit, S.J., following a courageous and truly inspirational “battle” with cancer, caused me to give thanks to God for a true gentleman who served the Church with passion. We were profoundly blessed by his presence and ministry here in the Diocese of Hamilton.
His commitment to the Jesuit Centre of Spirituality in Guelph was passionate and prophetic. He challenged us by his own lifestyle to examine the choices we make and the effect they have on the environment and on others. While he did not make us uncomfortable, at the same time one never left unchanged from an encounter with Father Profit. Is this not the mark of a saintly life?
I am personally saddened by his death. I know it is yet another big loss for the Jesuit Province. Be assured of my prayers, and those of the priests and parishioners of the Diocese of Hamilton, that Father will be given the reward of a good and faithful servant. May the entire Jesuit Province know the consolation offered by the promise of the resurrection offered by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Sincerely in Christ and Mary Immaculate,
(the Most Rev.) Douglas Crosby, OMI
Bishop of Hamilton
(by Shirley, a friend from Wikwemikong)
OUR PASTOR JIM:
A teacher, a mentor and shepherd with love,
sent by God from up above,
You’ve shown us Jesus. You’ve taught us the way.
By being an example of Christ’s love each day.
You are a teacher in all that you do,
always pointing to Jesus through and through.
You are a mentor we look to in trails and
you send us to Jesus to walk, the tough miles.
You know that He is the answer ALWAYS
and send us to him, to get through the haze.
You are shepherd by tending your sheep
some frightened, some worn, some tattered, some weak,
You always care and help us to find
contentment and joy in Jesus Divine.
When we wander away from the rest of the flock,
You seek to find and lead back to the Rock,
You’ve sought His will and carried your Cross,
by teaching His sheep, so there would be no lost.
One day in heaven, you’ll hear Jesus say
”WELL DONE MY SERVANT.”
This humbly we Pray
(Sermon by Bill Clarke SJ at the Funeral Mass for James in Guelph at Holy Rosary Church):
Welcome to the auxiliary Bishop, etc, etc.
I had the privilege of being in Summerside with James and his dear family for his final hours. It was truly a blessed time for all of us. James was lying face up on his bed, his breathing very laboured. We sensed that he might be hearing us but he could show no response. It was a very gentle time. There was some singing led by Rick with his guitar and Maurine with the flute, some sharing of stories and some laughter as well as times of silent communion. Several times Jim’s faith-filled mother, Kay, called us to pray. At one point Jim’s breathing became extremely faint and we knew the end was near. All the siblings were there with a few of their spouses and children. We were gathered closely around almost not breathing as each breath seemed to be his last. Then Jim very peacefully slipped through the veil into the fullness of the eternal now of love which we call God.
Fr. Roger in his opening remarks spoke of how Jim had been struggling to understand the gift of his illness and finally he discovered that gift; to know that he was loved. Now if living in such a loving family is not enough to convince someone that they are loved then one has to wonder. However, the truth of the matter is that most of us always have some resistance to believing how completely and totally we are loved. Even with those who are closest to us we often feel, yes but if they really knew me like I know myself well….The other thing is, I sense that Jim was so focused on loving others and loving the earth and everything else that he didn’t take the time to notice how much he himself was loved.
In the vigil service last night James’ brother Ron said he thought that James had come home not for any selfish reasons but as a gift to his family. I believe this is true but I think it was more than this. In that first reading; “Blessed are those whose trust is the Lord, they shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream…”
James was deeply rooted in the soil of his beloved PEI and in his beloved family. It was those deep roots that eventually drew him back home in an almost irresistible way. He certainly loved both family and the island. At almost every evening meal we would hear about one or other or both. And almost everywhere he went he would come back telling us about the islander he had met and often enough how they were related to his family. But you have to have been in PEI and spent time with his beautiful family to really appreciate how this could be.
James tried to go home to Summerside each year for a time of rest and of prayer. Sometimes he went to do a family wedding or perhaps a funeral. On so many of those occasions he would baptize one or more of his nieces or nephews and especially the grand nieces and nephews. On the several cottage properties all linked together on Mill River, James planted a tree for each one of them, 33 in all. At the offertory procession during the funeral Mass for James in Summerside each of these beautiful children and young adults carried forward a small branch from their tree. It was a moving sight to see them all processing down the aisle, some of them carried in a parents arms, not the nephew and nieces, of course, since several of them were tall enough to look down on their uncle James.
Jim had chosen the readings for this occasion. He chose them mainly because they speak to us of hope, and Jim was indeed a man of hope that inspired others to hope. His was a deep and realistic hope. He was certainly not an optimist. He could see more clearly than many of us the way we are destroying our beautiful, fragile mother Earth. He grieved the political and economic structures pushed and sustained by the multinationals and by those politicians more interested in maintaining power and blindly seeking economic progress at all cost. His hope came from his deep faith in God and in creation itself, both of which were for him almost the same reality. One of the signs of hope he especially enjoyed was the gravel pit on the Ignatius property. It had, like all gravel pits, become a desolate place but it had provided the gravel for the early construction of buildings and roads on the property. After it was closed a number of years ago, the earth regenerated itself in a beautiful way. This is a setting that Jim liked to take people to celebrate in prayer and song the beauty and goodness of the earth.
In that first reading Jeremiah speaks of the fruitfulness of that tree planted close to water, a fruitfulness that is abundant and enduring. This is our James. This is you Jim. All of us here have been abundantly nourished by you. Your life will continue to bear fruit that will last on and on and on. Thank you God. Thank you Jim.
In response to someone who had difficulty reading the scanned copy of James’ article, Angela and Irene Profit took the trouble to write to the Guelph Mercury (to a Mr. Phil. Andrews) to get the text of the aforesaid article:
Captions to the Photo:
“Photo: GEOFF ROBINS, GUELPH MERCURY Father Jim Profit S.J., supports Guelph’s proposed ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides. It would, he writes, provide an incentive to the development of alternative, less toxic pest management methods.”
“WE CAN’T LIVE WITH PESTICIDES
By JIM PROFIT
In the GUELPH MERCURY (3/28/2003)
I hold an agriculture degree in horticulture from the University of Guelph. Does this make me an expert in landscaping or agriculture? No, though I have had some experience in both of these areas.
I am also a priest. Does this make me an expert in ethics? No, though it does not prevent me from speaking out on various moral issues. So, what moves me on this occasion to weigh in on the discussion of pesticide use in the city of Guelph? I am a son. My father died a year ago from non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
My father began his career as a farmer, and became a potato inspector in Prince Edward Island.
He experienced the “miracle” of pesticides. They made farming easier, and helped increase production. We had a large garden at home, and applied pesticides liberally. There was seemingly no other way, and why should there be? My father walked potato fields five days a week for three months a year, for more than 35 years. He was exposed to a large quantity of pesticides.
There is clear scientific evidence connecting some forms of non-Hodgkins lymphoma with pesticide exposure. Some may wish to debate this evidence. Yet, by the time my father died, he did not need the scientific evidence for him to make his own conclusions. He came to realize that pesticides were not the miracle he once thought they were.
When I graduated from the University of Guelph, I too took the use of pesticides for granted. There seemed to be no other way possible.
My “conversion” away from pesticides was gradual. When I lived on our Ignatius Farm in the ’80s, I and others began to see that there was an inconsistency between our love for the land, our desire to be good caretakers of the land, and our use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
We could see the diminishment in numbers of birds, the lifeless quality of our soil, and the gradual greening of our pond from algae. We talked with other farmers who were caught in the treadmill of needing more and/or stronger pesticides and chemical fertilizers to achieve the same results.
Our discussions then, began the gradual conversion of our farm to organic. The biggest resistance came from an inability to see how we could be doing it differently, in spite of our desire to do so.
When I worked with peasant farmers in Jamaica in the ’90s, I did not discourage the use of pesticides. I simply did not know what other advice to give, in spite of my uneasiness about pesticides. We lived next to a big banana plantation which was regularly sprayed, sometimes by airplane. We found dead fish in the river. Upon analysis of the fish, we found that they contained a pesticide used by the plantation. We chose not to speak out about this, because the banana plantation was the largest employer in the area.
For the past six summers, there have been 26 fish kills in 17 waterways in PEI. Government tests indicated the source of the pollution was a pesticide used on potatoes, and that pollution occurred even though farmers followed the label container guidelines and procedures recommended by government.
The cry of support for continued use was that farmers needed the pesticides to farm, so no other way was possible.
The argument in favour of the use of pesticides in our city often has taken this route. We cannot live without pesticides. No other control of pests is possible. Landscaping needs pesticides.
The truth is that we and the other life forms of the Earth cannot live with them. Our addiction to pesticides cannot be used as an excuse to prevent us from change.
We can find other ways. We have found other ways. The PEI government has banned the use of the particular pesticide that caused the death of the fish. Some landscapers have found alternative ways to control pests and provide nutrients to lawns and gardens. We, like a growing number of farmers, have converted our farm at Ignatius to organic production methods. We are converting our lawns to natural landscapes.
Recently I visited the Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre in Zambia, which specializes in the training of peasant farmers.
Organic methods of production are all that is taught there. There are solutions for third world food production other than the industrial chemical model.
Yes, there are alternatives. Rather than resist change, the landscape and golf course industry would do better to join some of their colleagues to provide these alternatives.
What do we really want? What do we consider beautiful? Do we want to hold onto the notion that beauty means a green lawn with primarily Kentucky Bluegrass, but little other life forms?
Are we willing to sacrifice our health and environment? Or can we allow ourselves to experience real beauty by seeing colour and wildlife return to our yards.
We cannot win our battle against nature. Can we allow ourselves to live within nature, instead?
Rather than crying that there is no other way than the deadly status quo, let us put our energy behind enabling alternatives to be the reality.
A bylaw restricting the use of cosmetic pesticides would give all of us, including the landscape industry, more incentive to providing alternative pest management methods.
Jim Profit, S.J. is director of Ignatius Jesuit Centre of Guelph”
Our friend Dennis (Galon) was kind enough to alert us to 2 more tributes:
“Another tribute has just been published by the Guelph Mercury on line, essentially as a new story about the funeral.
I am not sure the follow story in the Guelph Tribune (January 14) has been reported here:
Thank you, Dennis.
May God grant James a Remembrance from Eternity.
On the day of James’ Burial in the Jesuit Cemetery at IJC and his Guelph Funeral at Holy Rosary Parish
here is a tribute from Dan Leckman SJ (presently a theology-philosophy student at U of T and Regis College):
On the day of his Wake in Guelph and the eve of the Guelph Funeral and Burial
a couple more articles on and tributes to James:
thanks to all you who sent in the notices of same.
God grant him a Remembrance from Eternity.
James’ sister, Angela, sent us the Toronto Star Obituary, as requested:
Our thanks to Helen Darby, who alerted us to the editorial in the Guelph Mercury about how Jim impacted many lives:
And Godspeed to James’ family and all who are or will be travelling to the Funeral and Burial in Guelph.