The Late Monsignor James Heslin, Cattan, Mohill PO, Co Leitrim and Jacksonville, Florida
The death occurred on Thursday, July 23 in Jacksonville, Florida of Monsignor James Heslin, retired pastor of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Jacksonville, in his 90th year.
Jim, as he was affectionately known to his family was born in Cattan in 1930 and attended Drumgownagh National School of which he wrote about in the Reunion book of 2013.
He went on to study at St Joseph’s College, Freshford and St Patrick’s College, Thurles and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954.
His father and mother James and Margaret were very proud parents when their son celebrated his first mass in St Joseph’s Church, Cornageeha.
His mass servers on that important day were Hugh Colreavy and Con Keighran. Shortly afterwards he celebrated the marriage of his brother Paddy Frank and his bride Maureen O’Rourke and also baptised his new born nephew Jimmy Joe Heslin of Drumgownagh.
Father Jim emigrated later in 1954, arriving in the Diocese of St Augustine in Florida. Over the next sixty six years he saw the diocese grow from a rural area with small clusters of houses to the sprawling urban landscape it is today.
With the growth in population he oversaw the development of the diocese, with the building of schools, churches, and preschools.
In 1962 he was given the role of President of St Augustine Foundation – a committee that was established to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the first Catholic parish in the United States.
In 1963 Father Jim married Mary O’Brien and John Carroll and they remained lifelong friends down through the years.
Archbishop Hurley made him a Monsignor in 1966. He served in various parishes in the diocese and in 1975 was appointed parish priest of Holy Spirit parish and he ministered there until his retirement in 2006.
Even in retirement he continued to serve his people while working with Arlington Community Services – an inter faith organisation.
Msgr Jim never lost contact with his roots and over the years was a regular visitor back to his native Cattan and he looked forward to getting his copy of the Leitrim Guardian every year.
His funeral mass in the Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Jacksonville on Wednesday, July 29, was celebrated by Bishop Felipe Estévez and the homily was preached by his friend, Fr William Kelly from Castlerea. Msgr Jim was laid to rest in San Lorenzo Cemetery.
We tender sympathy with his nieces, nephews, relatives and friends and with his fellow priests and parishioners.
God be good to Monsignor Jim and may he rest in peace.