Fr. James McCabe, C.PP.S.
December 6, 1931–August 27, 2023
Fr. James McCabe, C.PP.S., 91, died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday morning, August 27, in the infirmary of St. Charles Center, Carthagena, Ohio. He had been in failing health.
Fr. McCabe was born in Newcastle, Neb., on December 6, 1931, to Lawrence and Helen (Lewis) McCabe. The family moved to Detroit in 1941, and he considered Detroit his second hometown.
He entered the Congregation in 1945 at Brunnerdale, its former high school seminary near Canton, Ohio, and was ordained on June 1, 1958.
In his years as a priest, he was involved in parish ministry, college administration and leadership of the Congregation.
Fr. McCabe served briefly in parishes after his ordination, then became an instructor and librarian at St. Charles Seminary in Carthagena, Ohio, from 1961–65. During that time, he also served as archivist for the Congregation. In 1965, he became the librarian of Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., which is sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. He earned a master’s degree in library science from Catholic University, Washington DC.
He was instrumental in the growth of another college sponsored by the Missionaries, Calumet College of St. Joseph in Hammond, Ind., where he served first as executive vice president beginning in 1972, then president from 1975–80.
Fr. McCabe returned to parish work in 1982, when he was named pastor of St. Mary of the Woods Church in McQuady, Ky. He became pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Hawesville, Ky., in 1983.
In 1987, Fr. McCabe was named pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Celina, Ohio, where he served until 1992, when he was appointed provincial secretary for the Cincinnati Province. He also served the province as its personnel director and had been a member of its senate.
In 1997, Fr. McCabe accepted an assignment to the Sorrowful Mother Shrine in Bellevue, Ohio. He was named director of the shrine in 2000, where he served until his retirement in 2001. He moved to St. Charles Center in 2002.
Fr. McCabe had a genial manner and in parish life, generally led by consensus. He was a good listener and effective preacher, often including his own foibles that drew smiles from listeners. Yet he had a powerful intellect and organizational skills. His nickname in the Congregation, given to him while still at Brunnerdale, was Dux, Latin for “leader.”
He had a lifelong love of books—he learned the trade of bookbinding while a student at St. Charles and pursued it as a hobby later in life. He also loved fishing and birdwatching and was an avowed, if mostly ineffectual, enemy of the squirrels that raided his birdfeeders.
Devoted to his family and the Community, Fr. McCabe knew how to make connections with others, and keep them connected. In the 1990s, Fr. McCabe helped found the Amici, a group of former members and students of the C.PP.S., to establish or re-establish connections with those who had been educated and formed by the Missionaries. For many, it was an important act of reconciliation in keeping with Precious Blood spirituality. He served as Amici coordinator from 1987 to 2005.
Fr. McCabe was the last surviving member of his immediate family. He was preceded in death by his brother, Patrick, and his sister, Shirley Lyle.
He is survived by numerous nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Charles Center on Thursday, August 31, at 2 p.m., Fr. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S., provincial director, presiding. Fr. Ken Pleiman, C.PP.S., was the homilist. Burial followed in the Community cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Missionaries of the Precious Blood United States Province.