FR James (Jim) Bermingham of the 1966 St Patrick’s Missionary Society class in Kiltegan was laid to rest at St Paul’s Church, Emo, Co Laois on July 29 after he passed away in the Ballard Lodge Nursing Home.
Jim was a very dynamic missionary who brought great energy and zeal to his various ministries.
He was one of the first Society priests to embrace the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement and to use the Movement as a way of evangelizing the people of God. He was a very gracious host to all who visited the Society House in Rome and he enjoyed showing people the places of interest in the Eternal City.
Jim’s health began to deteriorate in 2018 and he came to live in the Care Unit in Kiltegan. He had a very close relationship with his family and he also spent periods of time with them especially before the Covid-19 lockdown.
In October 2021 he went to live full time with his family and his niece Deirdre became his main carer. Sadly Jim’s health continued to decline. In May 2022 he moved to Ballard Lodge Nursing Home on the outskirts of Portlaoise, Co Laois, where he died peacefully on the morning of Tuesday, July 26. His niece Deirdre was at his bedside as he breathed his last.
Jim was predeceased by his brother Myles. He is survived by his sisters Lil, Bernie and Kathleen, his brother Paddy, his sister-in-law Josephine, his nieces and nephews and their families.
It had all begun for Jim at his birth in September 1940 to Patrick Bermingham and his wife Margaret Mary (née Siney) of Rialto Park, South Circular Road, Dublin. He was from a family of three girls and three boys.
He joined St Patrick’s Missionary Society in September 1959 and after a seven year programme of studies he was ordained priest on Easter Sunday of 1966. The ordaining prelate was Most Rev Patrick Cleary SSC DD, Exiled Bishop of Nancheng, China.
After ordination Jim was appointed to the Diocese of Ogoja, Nigeria, where he ministered for nine years. His first appointment was to St Augustine’s Junior Seminary, Ezzamgbo where he taught for three years.
In 1969 he was appointed to Ugep Parish. At that time there were plans to open a second parish in the area and Obubra was identified as the new centre. Bishop McGettrick SPS was very anxious to develop that vast territory on the banks of the Cross River and he was very grateful to Jim for taking up the challenge of setting up Obubra Parish. In 1973 Jim was transferred to Obudu, a rural town in the northern part of the Diocese. He served there until July 1975 when he was called to work on the promotion team in the USA for six months. He was based in Saratoga, California.
Jim returned to Nigeria in early 1976 and he was appointed to the Archdiocese of Lagos. It began a new phase in his missionary life. As a man who was born and reared in a city he took very easily to life in the buzzing metropolis of Lagos.
His first appointment was to St Mary’s Parish, Ajegunle. In 1978 he was appointed to the Shogunle area of Lagos and was given the task of setting up a new parish. For the next four years he laboured tirelessly in establishing St John the Evangelist Parish. He also supervised the building of the presbytery.
During Jim’s years in Lagos he became very involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and was very much sought after as a retreat giver. At that time he was also the National Chairman of Charismatic Renewal for Nigeria as well as being a resource person for the Apostolic Nuncio in Nigeria. As if he did not have enough to do, he was also the Chaplain to Lagos International Airport. It was a very busy time in his life.
Jim took a sabbatical in 1982 and obtained an MA in Christian Ministry from the University of Steubenville in the USA.
After completing his studies he was appointed to Rome where he spent the next twenty years. Jim was appointed International Administrator for EVANGELIZATION 2000, Rome. The world was his oyster.
His task was to help train the clergy and faithful throughout the world in Evangelization and Mission. It meant long journeys throughout Africa and Asia. It brought Jim great joy and satisfaction. In 1996 Jim was appointed Procurator General of the Society following the death of Fr Michael Glynn.
He moved to the Society House in Rome and continued his ministry with EVANGELIZATION 2000. Jim stepped down as Procurator General of the Society in 2003 and went to live in his own home near Portarlington, Co Laois, from where his mother’s people hailed.