Rev. JamesF. Blaes, C.S.C.
September16, 1926-December 14, 2014
Rev. JamesF.Blaes, C.S.C., 88, died Sunday(December 14, 2014) at Holy Cross House.
He was born to Frederick and Agnes (McNellis) Blaes on Sept. 16, 1926, in Indianapolis,Ind. He attended St. Joan of Arc grade school and Cathedral High School, run by the Holy Cross Brothers, graduating in 1944. With WW II ongoing, Fr. Blaes attended the University of Notre Dame for four months, followed by a stint in the U.S. Army. In 1946, he entered the pre-seminary program at Notre Dame. He was received into the Congregation on Aug. 15, 1947. He professed vows on Aug. 16, 1948. Fr. Blaes returned to Notre Dame and graduated with a bachelor degree in 1951. He professed Final Vows on Aug. 16, 1951, and then moved to Holy Cross College, Washington, D.C., to study theology. Fr. Blaes was ordained to the priesthood on June 8, 1955, in Sacred Heart Church, Notre Dame, by Bishop Leo Pursley. He remained on campus to study English while teaching at Holy Cross Seminary and prefecting in Lyons Hall. In 1956, Fr. Blaes moved to Notre Dame High School in Niles, Ill., where he taught English and religion, spending summers earning a master’s degree. In 1966, he returned to Holy Cross Seminary, and when it closed the next year, he was assigned as chaplain to Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo, Mich. From 1968 to 1970 and 1970 to 1974, Fr. Blaes was an Assistant Pastor at St. Francis Xavier, Burbank, Calif., and St. Mary’s Cathedral, Austin, Texas, respectively. Returning to Notre Dame High School, he worked in Public Relations until 1978 when he entered the CPE Program at St. Joseph Hospital in Houston, Texas. After asabbatical year, 1980-81, he assisted at St. Matthew Parish in Indianapolis. The next year he was Chaplain at St. Francis Hospital, Beech Grove, Ind., and assisted at St. John Church, while living at St. Patrick Rectory in Indianapolis. Fr. Blaes moved to LeMans Academy in Rolling Prairie, Ind., serving as Chaplain to the Brothers and students from 1983 to 1985. In 1985, he moved to Holy Cross House, Notre Dame, where he has provided parish assistance in the South Bend area, as well as being a mainstay minister for the people of Faith, Hope and Charity Chapel in downtown South Bend, Ind.
Fr. Blaes is survived by his sister, Joan B. Clark of The Woodlands, Texas. He was preceded in death by his parents Frederick and Agnes (McNellis) Blaes. A wake service will be held at Moreau Seminary Chapel at 7:30 P.M. on Sunday, December 21, 2014 and the funeral Mass will be celebrated at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Monday, December 22, 2014 at 3:30 P.M. Burial will follow at the Holy Cross Community Cemetery.
Memorial contributions in support of the mission and ministries of the Congregation of Holy Cross can be made to: United States Province of Priests and Brothers, Office of Development, P.O. Box 765, Notre Dame, IN 46556-0765 or online at donate.holycrossusa.org.
WakeEulogy by Brother Patrick Lynch, C.S.C.
December 21, 2014
When we in Holy Cross celebrate Jubilees, we are asked to write a short biographical account of our life. Fr. Jim provided us with a lot of information when he celebrated his Golden Jubilee of Ordination over 9 years ago.
Fr. Blaes was born in Indianapolis on September 16, 1926. He graduated from Cathedral High School which was run by the Holy Cross Brothers. He served in the U.S. Army during WWII. In 1946, he entered the pre-seminary at Notre Dame and professed vows in 1948. Fr. Jim graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1951 and professed Final Vows in 1951. He then went to study theology at Holy Cross College in Washington, D.C. Fr. Jim was ordained to the priesthood on June 8, 1955. He would have celebrated 60 years of priestly service next June.
After ordination, Fr. Jim taught English at Holy Cross Seminary at the University of Notre Dame. The following year, he was assigned to Notre Dame High School in Niles, Ill., where he taught English and religion. It was during this time that he earned an M.A. degree in English. In 1966, Fr. Jim left Notre Dame High School, and for the following eight years, he served in parish, hospital and teaching ministry in Indiana, Michigan, and California.
In 1974, Fr. Jim returned to Notre Dame High School in Niles, Ill. This is when I first met him. I had been assigned to the high school the same year. He was involved in several activities at the school, but his main apostolate was Director of Publicity. I can remember what a great job he did. It seemed like the school was frequently in the news media because of his efforts. I was very impressed with his humility and his many kind deeds. He was always willing to go out of his way to help others. I can’t tell you how many times he gave a ride to those who needed to get some place.
Fr. Jim left Notre Dame High School in 1974 and went to Texas to participate in a clinical pastoral program (CPE). From 1980 to 2014, Fr. Jim served several ministries in Indiana, including parish ministry at Saint Matthew’s in Indianapolis, Saint Francis Hospital in Beech Grove, and he was Chaplin for our Holy Cross Brothers at Le Mans Academy in Rolling Prairie.
Fr. Jim came to live at Holy Cross House in 1985, but he remained very active, especially during those early years. He assisted at various area parishes, including Faith Hope and Charity Downtown Chapel in South Bend, five days a week, for many years. He was also quite active at Holy Cross House during all those years, celebrating Mass, preaching, etc.
It’s amazing how many ministries he was involved in over the years. He even helped out at a parish in New York back in 1958. So we can say his priestly ministry was from coast to coast, from New York to California. Fr. Jim played the tuba in his high school for all four years. While at the University of Notre Dame, he played with the band at home football games. On one occasion, he traveled with the band when Notre Dame played Army at Yankee Stadium.
I am told that he was very good with details. And his personal effects were labeled. For Fr. Jim, it was important to know where, when and from whom the items he acquired came. All who knew him will agree that he was quiet and humble, and a man of prayer. He asked many questions, but he listened to the answers. He was a good listener. I am confident that he talked to God and asked God questions and made room to listen to the answers.
I was glad to renew our friendship when I came here in 2011. We often played cards in the afternoon with some of the men at Holy Cross House. Sometimes, I would tell a joke during the card game and I always got a laugh from him, even when the joke was not that funny. Several months ago, he asked me to pray for his sister Joan, who was quite ill. I, of course, agreed and I still pray for her, and for Fr. Jim. His love and concern for Joan was very obvious. I have a Christmas card that I signed and addressed to him a couple of weeks ago. I still have the card. I didn’t know he would leave us so soon. He always sent me a Christmas card.
I find it interesting that he died at this particular time of the year when people are busy writing Christmas cards, decorating, and shopping. He seemed to just slip away. Many people could not be present tonight because they are travelling. Most of our seminarians have gone home to be with family. I can imagine Fr. Jim saying that’s fine, there’s no need to fuss. Just pray for me and my sister and family.
So, after more than sixty six years as a Holy Cross religious, and nearly sixty years as a Holy Cross priest, he has gone home to the God he loved and served. Some of his classmates have also gone, and some are at Holy Cross House.
Fr. Jim concluded his biography on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee with the following quote from Saint Paul’s second letter to Timothy:
“As for me, I am already being poured out in sacrifice, and theTime of my deliverance is at hand. I have fought the good fight,I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. For the rest,There is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the Just judge, will give to me in that day, yet not to me only, but Also to those who love His coming.”
2 Timothy IV: 6-8
Funeral Homily by Rev. James Connelly, C.S.C.
December 22, 2014
Let me begin by expressing once again our condolences to Fr. Blaes’s sister, Joan Clark, and his niece, her daughter, Linda Butler, who could not be with us this afternoon. They were able to be here for the wake yesterday, but because of a medical issue and work, they had to leave early this morning.
In the first reading we heard St. Paul say, “I consider the sufferings of the present to be as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us.” Jim Blaes suffered from physical ailments for much of his life, especially during the last five years at Holy Cross House. They restricted his travel, even his ability to leave Holy Cross House and especially his opportunities for ministry. Like most of us, he probably wondered what his glorified body would be like the body he had at 80 or the one he had at 30. Whichever, he knew that it would be free of its “slavery to corruption” (Rom 8:21) that plagued him for so many years. Jim awaited the redemption of his body with “patient endurance,” St. Paul’s phrase (Rom. 8:25), as do we all.
If wondering what the redemption of our bodies, life after death, will be like, is one question that comes to us when we think about death, a second question is “How will death come to us?”
Some years ago a family with which I was acquainted liked to attend the Mass here at the basilica that had a big choir, incense, and sometimes thoughtful but extended homilies . They had a young daughter who was not as enthralled by the high liturgy as were her parents and she often became restless during Mass. To cope with her restlessness, her parents would ask her to count all the angels painted on the ceiling of the church. No matter what number she came up with, they would ask whether she was sure she had counted all the angels and suggest that she count them again just to make sure.
I, too, have at times have had my attention diverted by the art work in the basilica. I was not counting angels, but rather contemplating the painting on the back wall of the sanctuary that depicts Joseph on his death bed with Mary and Jesus standing by. I cannot think of a better way to die. Jim Blaes was anointed about ten days before his death. His room at Holy Cross House was full of confreres on that occasion and he joined in the prayers of the sacrament with them.
There is an article in our constitutions (IV: 37) that reads in part, “When we come to die, we need to know that especially then our confreres stand by us, for we are sustained all the more by their prayers.” Jim knew that he was sick unto death. As Mary and Jesus stand by Joseph in the painting, Jim’s confreres in Holy Cross House stood by him and sustained him by their prayers.
Death is a common denominator in all our lives. We do not expect to avoid it, but like the servants waiting for their master in the gospel (Lk. 12:35ff.), we strive to be ready for it. And like the house owner guarding against the thief (Lk. 12) we live so as not be caught off guard. I think that Jim Blaes came to the moment of death this way. May we do so as well!