BROTHER JAMES FRANCIS, C.P.
Most recently of Jamaica, New York, went home to God suddenly on December 15, 2012. He was born on November 29, 1926 to Robert Edward Fitzgerald, Sr. and Ann M. (McCann) Fitzgerald of Lawrenceville. He and his eight brothers and sisters brought much laughter, music and love of God to the world. He is survived by one sister, Catherine Bernadette Mavrinac (the late Harry C.). He is pre-deceased by his brothers, Robert E. Jr., William J. (the late Jean), John M., Robert J. (Kathleen), and Edward Paul; and by his sisters, Ellamae Baier (the late Denis) and Ann Therese Fitzgerald. He also had 28 nieces and nephews who loved "Uncle Chuckle" very much, as well as many great-nieces and great-nephews. He grew up as a member of St. Kieran's Parish in Lawrenceville. Later, the family moved from Butler Street to the Morningside area of Pittsburgh, where they were members of St. Raphael's Parish. Jim was a phenomenal talent and a man of great faith. He first became an on-air radio personality at 5 years old in the 1930s as part of the KDKA Sunday show "Grandpa & Snuggins". He continued to have acting roles at KDKA and the Pittsburgh Playhouse throughout his elementary school years, and trained with the King's School of Oratory. During World War II, when Jim was a senior at Central Catholic High School, he worked the night shift for WCAE, replacing an enlisted soldier, and was still able to become the class salutatorian. He played the piano and violin, and was a lifelong learner. In 1944, he went to the Passionists of St. Paul of the Cross Seminary, but did not join the community at that time. Through his involvement with the Passionists in Pittsburgh, he met several inspirational priests, including Father Angelo Iacovino, C.P., who died in 2011, and Father Gregory Flynn, C.P. Jim returned to Pittsburgh and went on to become an on-air personality on WWSW in Pittsburgh and worked there until the music format changed. In the early 1980s, Jim was called once again to become part of his beloved Passionist community. He joined the community based in Union City, New Jersey in 1984, led by Father Victor Hoagland, C.P. He lived and worked tirelessly on behalf of the Passionist Press from then until the closing of the Monastery at St. Michael's in June 2012. Jim devoted his life to serving the Lord through his work with the Passionist community, traveling where he was needed, including to Jamaica, West Indies. On December 8, 2008, at the age of 82, he professed his temporary vows to become a Passionist Brother. He professed his perpetual vows on December 8, 2011, with family gathered proudly around him in celebration. After the June 2012 closure of St. Michael's, he joined the Passionist community at the Immaculate Conception Monastery in Jamaica, New York. Jim continued to work until the final moment of his life to spread the Word of God through the written word. Of course, that was fitting, as Jim used that written and spoken word to eloquently and movingly capture all of the music, emotion and love of God that was a hallmark of his family. Because of that, his letters gave untold comfort and encouragement to the recipients. A prayer service and rosary was offered on Wednesday, December 19, 2012, beginning at 5pm at the Chapel in the Immaculate Conception Monastery in Jamaica, New York. A Mass of Christian Burial was offered for him at 10 a.m. on Thursday, December 20, 2012, also in the Chapel. Jim was buried on the grounds of the Monastery near his dear friend, Father Angelo. Donations may be offered in his memory to the Passionists of St. Paul of the Cross Province, c/o Immaculate Conception Monastery, 86-45 Edgerton Boulevard, Jamaica Estates, New York 11432, Attention: Father Peter Grace, C.P. Condolences may be sent to the Immaculate Conception Monastery as well. A Mass in memorial will be held in Pittsburgh at St. Paul of the Cross Monastery on a date to be determined.
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Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Dec. 23 to Dec. 24, 2012