Fr. James W. Lothamer, PSS
November 9. 1942 – November 1, 2019
Like the utility fielder who plays multiple positions on the baseball field, Fr. Jim Lothamer, PSS was our “utility Sulpician.” His ministry with the Province has had him play teacher, administrator, recruiter, editor, treasurer, and pastor.
James William Lothamer was the second of fifteen children born in Coldwater, MI on November 9, 1942 to John and Helen (nee Cox) Lothamer.
He earned the B.A. degree from St. Charles College in Columbus, OH (1964) and then the S.T.B. from St. John’s Provincial Seminary, Plymouth, MI (1968). He later earned the M.A. degree in theology (1972) and also the Ph.D. (1980) from the University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto, Ontario.
After ordination to the priesthood for the Diocese of Lansing, MI June 1, 1968, Fr. Lothamer was assigned as a Sulpician candidate to St. Charles College, Catonsville, MD. He taught there from 1968 to 1970 and again from 1975 to 1977. These years of teaching at the college level were his only teaching experience for the Province. While finishing his doctoral dissertation, he served as the Director of Recruitment for St. Mary’s Seminary and University, Roland Park, from 1978-1980. After completing his doctorate, he served St. Mary’s again as its Vice-President for Resource/Development (1981-1987) and again as its recruitment director (1986-1988).
After a sabbatical (1988), Fr. Lothamer served the Province as the Director of Discernment and Admissions (1989-1994) along with being editor of the provincial publication Update. He then left Baltimore to become pastor in his home diocese at St. Joseph’s Church, Adrian, MI (1994-2000) but continued his connection to the Province through his editorial work for Update and the Generalate publication, Bulletin de St. Sulpice. After another sabbatical, he returned to serve the Province as the Associate Director of the sabbatical program, The Vatican II Institute for Continuing Education of the Clergy, on the campus of St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, CA (2001-2003).
He then returned to his diocese to serve as pastor of St. Agnes Church, Fowlerville, MI (2003-2010). After another sabbatical (2010-2011), he continued his pastoral service in his home diocese for the Catholic community of East Lansing. In that ministry he was well-loved for his preaching and was able to work closely with the campus ministry program of Michigan State University. He officially retired in January 2013. He was then appointed as Provincial Treasurer in 2015.
Not long after officially retiring, Fr. Lothamer was diagnosed with urothelial cancer. In August of 2016, he underwent surgery to remove his bladder. He recovered well from this surgery and was able to provide pastoral service for St. Mary’s Church, Charlotte, MI (2015-2016), St. Mary’s Church Pinckney, MI (2017) and St. Mary’s Church, Morrice, MI (2017-2018).
While giving many years of pastoral service to his home diocese, Fr. Lothamer remained closely tied to the Sulpician community. He was a faithful participant in community gatherings for retreat and convocation. He was a lifelong learner, as he used his sabbatical opportunities to develop language skills in French, German, and Italian, which he used well to connect his American family with their European counterparts. He loved to travel, to keep abreast of current events, and to read widely. Together these interests made him a spirited conversationalist on all matters ecclesial and political.
In July 2018, Fr. Lothamer moved back to Baltimore to retire in the Sulpician retirement community of Villa Olier. In October of 2019, a CT scan and biopsy revealed aggressive cancer moving through his liver. One of Fr. Lothamer’s firmest and final requests was that he return to Michigan to live his final days under the hospice care of Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, MI where he would be close to his family and surrounded by the community he so loved from his service to them in his pastoral ministry. Fr. Lothamer died on November 1, 2019 after a short stay in hospice.
His wake service and funeral were in his home parish, St. Agnes Church, in Fowlerville. The celebrant of the Mass was his close friend, Fr. Jim Eisele, and Fr. Richard Gula, P.S.S. was the homilist. Interment was in his family plot at Riverside Cemetery in Bellevue, MI.
The large congregation that assembled for both the Vigil Service and the Funeral Mass served as testimony to the impact that Fr. Lothamer had upon so many lives and to his remarkable capacity to establish and maintain friendships across a lifetime.
Richard M. Gula, PSS
Director of Personnel