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Rev. James S. O'Leary

Deceased: 2023-02-03


Seminary Graduation Year: 1962

Reverend James O’Leary,  87, entered into eternal life on February 3, 2023 after a brief illness.

Fr. O’Leary was born on October 23, 1935, in Lansing, Mich., to Genevieve and Vincent O’Leary, as a triplet, along with his sisters. He attended St. Mary Elementary and High School in Lansing. He earned his undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, and then completed his graduate degree in Theology (Licentiate) from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, while in seminary formation at the Pontifical North American College in 1961. He was ordained to the Priesthood on December 20, 1961, at St. Peter Basilica in Rome for the Diocese of Lansing, where he served in his earliest pastoral assignments. During his tenure as an Associate Pastor at St. Joseph Parish, Kalamazoo, Pope Saint Paul VI established the Diocese of Kalamazoo in July 21, 1971, and Father O’Leary became one of the first priests for the new Diocese. He served as Pastor for many of the Parishes in the Diocese (see Priestly Assignments below) and provided pastoral care for the people of St. Ambrose Parish, Parchment, for 16 years, until he retired and became a Senior Priest in 2020.

“For many, Fr. Jim will always be known for his incredible curious mind, his thirst for knowledge as well as his sense of humor and sharp wit,” said Bishop Paul J. Bradley. “Even more notable was Father’s unwavering love of the Gospel, and his deep devotion to all the Faithful he served throughout his 61 years as a priest.”

In addition to his ministry in the parishes, Fr. O’Leary served as a member of the Diocesan Presbyteral Council and the Board of Consultors and was appointed Vicar for Priests (1996-2001).

Father O’Leary is survived by his brother, David and sister, Eileen.

Thursday, February 9, Lying in State / Visitation in the Narthex 8 a.m. – 10 a.m., St. Augustine Cathedral, Kalamazoo/ Mass of Christian Burial, St. Augustine Cathedral, 10 a.m. with Most Rev. Paul Bradley and concelebrating priests. Burial at Mt Olivet Cemetery, Kalamazoo immediately after the Mass.