After a lengthy illness, Father James Webb, S.J., past Provincial of the Jesuits in English Canada and past Chancellor of Regis College, died on the morning of August 9, 2012 at the Renée Goupil House, the Jesuit healthcare facility in Pickering, Ontario. In his last hours, Jim was accompanied by two close Jesuit friends, Fathers Doug McCarthy and Michael Czerny. Details of the wake and funeral arrangements are noted below. May he see God face to face.
Jim was 68 years of age and in his 48th year of religious life. Jim was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 29th July 1944, son of J. Hilus Webb and Mary Somers. He entered the Society after completing his B.Sc. from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, his then home town. He made his novitiate in Guelph, philosophy studies in Spokane, Washington, student teaching at Brebeuf College, Toronto and Theology studies at Regis College in Toronto. He was ordained a priest on 9th June 1973. From 1973 to 1986 he lived at West Avenue in Toronto, a house dedicated to work with the poor and the search for justice. He co-founded the Jesuit Centre for Social Faith and Justice (1979) and was involved in many initiatives, including a founding director of the Taskforce on Churches and Corporate Responsibility (1975); of The Catholic New Times newspaper (1976); South Riverdale Community Health Centre (1976); Canadian Alternative Investment Cooperative (1984) among others. From 1986 to 2008 Jim was in Jamaica. While in Jamaica Jim became culturally at home and served in a number of ways, Pastor of St. Peter Claver Church (1986); Chairman, St Mary’s Rural Development project, (1990); Founding director for Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections (1997); Regional Superior of the Society for Jamaica, (1997) among others. He received the National Union of Cooperative Society Award in 2009 for helping in the founding of the St. Peter Claver Women’s Housing Cooperative. In 2008 he returned to Canada to become the Provincial Superior of the English Canada Province. He served in that position until his returning cancer required that he resign in May of 2012. He moved to Rene Goupil House in Pickering for palliative care until his death. Those who were with Jim during the last few months of his life and during his rapid physical diminishment were profoundly struck by his resignation and his spirit of gratitude. Jim was well appreciated for his deep insight, his commitment to justice and his fine sense of humour. He will be missed by his family and Jesuit companions.
For an article about Jim Webb's life and contribution by Jamaican columnist Jean Lowrie-Chin, please click here.
For an article from The Catholic Register about Jim Webb, please click here.