Father James Cashman ‘had such a great love of life’

Categories: Around the Diocese

The Visitor

Crosier Father James Cashman, 93, died Jan. 28 at the Mille Lacs Health System Long Term Care. The Mass of Christian Burial was Feb. 2 at the Crosier Priory Church in Onamia, with a private burial at a later date in the priory cemetery.

Gloria MacMillan Cessna, a longtime trustee for St. Louis Bertrand Parish in Foreston, where Father Cashman had served as pastor for nearly two decades, spoke of his final days when he knew he was dying.



“He had said, ‘This is the best time of my life,’ ” she recalled. “He was speaking not of his physical condition but of his inner spiritual life, which was a blessing to him.”

Father Cashman was born May 11, 1921, in Blooming Prairie, Minn., to Thomas and Mary (Keenan) Cashman, the youngest of 12 children. He attended the Crosier Seminary College in Onamia and joined the Crosier novitiate in Hastings, Neb., in 1942. He made first profession of vows Aug. 28, 1943, and was ordained to the priesthood May 27, 1948.

He served for five years on the faculty of the Crosier’s Our Lady of the Lake Seminary in Syracuse, Ind., and for 31 years at the diocesan Stepinac High School in White Plains, N.Y., where he was instrumental in their theater department. He then served as the pastor of St. Louis Bertrand Parish in Foreston from 1987 until his retirement in 2006, when he returned to the Crosier Priory in Onamia.

“Things moved faster in New York, where he’d come from,” MacMillan Cessna said, “so his homilies were speedy, but meaty. They weren’t long, but you could walk away with a very practical message.

“While he connected well with all ages, he really loved children, and that drew parents. For example, when a child would cry at Mass or during a homily, he’d just remark that the child was a future choir member.”

Father Cashman also was a member of the Knights of Columbus and the National Association for Amateur Radio.

As friends, MacMillan Cessna and Father Cashman shared a delight in words and books, particularly mysteries and the author P.G. Wodehouse. “He had such a great love of life.”