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Archives Memorial Mass planned for Father Spenard

October 21, 2020

CARTHAGE – A Memorial Mass for Father James T. Spenard, an Augustinian and long-time pastor at St. James Church in Carthage will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31 at St. James Church.

Bishop Terry R. LaValley will celebrate the Mass.

Father Spenard was born on October 4, 1946, in Waterford, New York, one of two sons of John Spenard and Marie Alma Baillargeon. He was baptized on October 20, 1946 at Saint Mary’s Church, Waterford, and attended Waterford Public School from 1951 to 1953 and Saint Mary’s School, Waterford, from 1953 until 1960. He then attended LaSalle Institute in Troy, New York, from which he graduated in 1964. Jim entered Our Mother of Good Counsel Novitiate, New Hamburg, New York on September 9, 1964, and professed simple vows on September 10, 1965.

Following religious profession, he attended Villanova University and graduated in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy. He made his profession of solemn vows on September 14, 1968 at Villanova.

During the summers between 1969 and 1971, he took graduate classes in education and sociology at Villanova. He pursued theological studies at the Washington Theological Coalition from 1969 to 1972, when he received a master’s degree in Theology. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 17, 1972 at Saint Mary’s Church, Waterford, by Bishop Edward J. Maginn.

Father Spenard was assigned to Saint Denis Church, Havertown, Pennsylvania, in June 1972 and to Saint James Church, Carthage in January 1973. In June 1977 he was transferred to Immaculate Conception Church, Hoosick Falls. He returned to his role as pastor at Saint James in Carthage in August 1979, a position he would hold for 18 years.

According to North Country Catholic archives, Father Spenard oversaw an extensive renovation project at St. James during his tenure. He was also quoted as saying he saw “keeping Augustinian (Academy) alive” as one of his major accomplishments.

The NCC reported that family and community have been two major themes of his preaching. He tried to emphasize “the community in terms of the parish, that there is a bond there, that the faith ties us together.” He placed special emphasis on the Eucharist, the sacrament of unity, as “the true binding force of Catholic life,” as he encouraged his parishioners in reception of all the sacra¬ments.

After 18 years of ministry in this role, he received a brief sabbatical in September 1997. In March 1998, he was appointed pastor of Saint Augustine Parish in Troy. He also served Saint Augustine’s at various times as prior, treasurer and local superior of the Augustinian community.

In August 2015, he was assigned to Saint Rita of Cascia Friary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he assisted in Shrine ministry with particular responsibility for couples preparing for marriage at the Shrine.

In March 2019, with the merger of the religious communities of Saint Rita and Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, he was assigned to the newly formed Augustinian Community of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Philadelphia, and from there continued his ministry at Saint Rita Shrine.

On August 30, 2020 Father Jim suffered a stroke and was admitted to Jefferson Hospital. While there, as he was awaiting transfer to a rehab facility, he suffered two more strokes and was transferred to Kindred Hospital, Philadelphia, where he died in the early hours of Thursday, October 8, 2020.

Father Jim Spenard’s entire priesthood of 48 years was devoted to pastoral work in direct service to the faithful. His quiet, gentle, and dedicated leadership and long service in both Carthage and Troy, New York, earned him the respect and devotion of these communities and an enduring remembrance in their history of these parishes.
Burial will be private in St. John's Cemetery, Troy.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.
And let perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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