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Fr Jim did so much for Brazil the President sent sympathy


The late Fr Jim Crowe.

The late Fr Jim Crowe.

The late Fr Jim Crowe.


FR James ‘Jim’ Crowe of the 1969 St Patrick’s Missionary Society class was laid to rest last month at St Patrick’s Missionary Society cemetery in Kiltegan following his funeral mass held in St Senan’s, Clonlara, Co Clare

On Sunday, February 19 he was visited by his niece Marcella in the afternoon and by Fr Tomás O’Connor at around 7pm. He died unexpectedly later that night around 9.30 p.m.

His death was broadcast on many media outlets in Brazil and President Lula, a personal friend of Jim, and other prominent politicians tweeted their sadness at his passing.

James Crowe, popularly known as Jim, was born on March 7, 1945 in Clonlara, Co Clare, to James Crowe and his wife Josephine (née Heffernan). Jim was one of ten children and he attended Clonlara National School from 1949 to 1957 and had his secondary education in Sexton Street CBS, Limerick from 1957 to 1962.

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In September 1962 he joined the Spiritual Year in Kiltegan. From 1963 to 1965 Jim studied philosophy in Cork and then proceeded to Kiltegan for theology from 1965 to 1969. Jim was one of 19 young men ordained for St Patrick’s Missionary Society, by Bishop Lennon on April 6, 1969.

After ordination he was appointed to São Paulo, Brazil. After some months learning Portuguese, Jim moved into the parish of Embu where he remained for 17 years.

In 1975 he was joined by his lifelong friend Fr Eddie McGettrick. Embu was a growing parish in a rapidly expanding city. When Jim began the population of the parish was about 7,000 and a decade later it would be close to 200,000. In 1987 Jim and Eddie moved into a new area on the periphery of the city which became famous as Jardim Angela.

In 1986 it was declared the most violent area in the world. It was here that Jim made his home and the locus for his ministry and activism for the next 33 years. In 1991 Jim was elected the Regional Leader of St Patrick’s Missionary Society for South America and the Caribbean, for a 6 year term.

Jim became totally engrossed in the implementation of the pastoral strategy promulgated by the Bishops Conference of South America from their famous meetings in Medellin, Columbia in 1968 and in Puebla, Mexico in 1979.

This was the time in Brazil when the military were dominating politics, but when the church was preaching and living Liberation theology. Jim was at the forefront of this pastoral strategy, of training lay leaders in the parish to take a very active part in the sacramental life of the Church.

Jim worked as part of a parish pastoral team with sisters and lay people.

He also collaborated with other Christian churches and groups in civil society to bring about programmes and social schemes to improve the lives of the people.

In an area where crime and drugs were rampant, Jim and Eddie organised a March for Life and Peace in 1996 which attracted about 5,000 people the first year and grew to about 20,000 in the following years. Another area of focus for Jim’s work was campaigning against police corruption and torture, which put his life in danger. However, he survived which strengthened his faith and belief in Christ’s protection.

Jim was well known in Brazil and was often on state TV promoting the values of human rights and speaking out against corruption. Heretired from Brazil in 2020 and went to live with his family in his native Clare. At the end of January 2023 he was admitted to hospital in Limerick.

Jim is survived by his sisters Noreen, Marcella (Dorran) and Josephine (Grogan), brothers Pat, George and Raymond, sisters-in-law Kitty and Bernie, brother-in-law Meredith, nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, grand-nephews, his many friends in Brazil and Ireland and his Society family in Kiltegan.