James E. Fitzpatrick, “Fitz”, totally an Irishman, was born on March 31, 1937, the second child of William and Betty Fitzpatrick, in Brownsville, MN (Houston County). His siblings were Howard (deceased), Rosemary (deceased) and David. He is survived by his beloved wife of 45 years, Karen.
After grade school in Brownsville, Jim attended Loretto High School in Caledonia. He worked as a highway flagman in Southeastern MN after his sophomore year of high school. The lack of traffic on rural roads allowed him to read many books during long summer days.
After high school graduation, Jim attended St. Mary’s College in Winona as a seminarian studying for the Catholic priesthood and was later sent to Catholic University in Washington, D.C. where he received a Master’s degree in Secondary Education Administration.
Ordained as a Catholic priest in June, 1963, his first assignment was as an associate at Cathedral parish in Winona, MN, followed by St. Pius X in Rochester, and then Good Counsel Academy, Loyola High School and the Motherhouse of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, all in Mankato. Jim was then assigned to teach at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary at St. Mary’s College in Winona. He next served at Queen of Angels parish and Pacelli High School in Austin before his final assignment back at St. Pius X in Rochester in the summer of 1973. There he met Sister Karen Beyers, who served as Director of Religious Education for the parish. After a year, Jim resigned from the priesthood and taught adult religious education in Phoenix, AZ where Karen, who had left the convent, was also teaching. They later returned to MN where they were married in 1974, amid family and friends.
The couple both taught religious education at Guardian Angels in Oakdale, while residing in Lake St Croix Beach. When Jim took a job at St Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center, the couple moved to Mahtomedi. Jim then worked at St. Joseph in West St. Paul and later at St. Richards in Richfield where, for seven years, he pioneered the role of parish administrator. He was lauded for “modeling the lay ministry, lay leadership and lay accountability that became the bedrock of the collective mission of the Catholic Church.” He retired in 2002.
Jim became an avid bicyclist from mid-life on, biking from the Canadian border to the Iowa border with two fellow cyclists.
He will be remembered especially for his engaging story-telling and sense of humor. He always went the extra mile to stay connected to his many friends. “Know you are loved”
Funeral services will be held at St. Frances Cabrini parish, Minneapolis on Wednesday, November 13. Visitation at 9:30; funeral at 11:00 followed by lunch.Burial will be in Brownsville, MN on Saturday, November 16th, at 11:00 AM. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Our Lady of Peace Hospice, 2076 St Anthony Ave. St. Paul, MN 55104.