Born: 5 February 1934
Entered: December 1952
Ordained: 16 January 1966
Dismissed: 30 July 1998
Father Brendan was a Eurasian and a native of Singapore. His father, Frank James, had been a very well-known teacher at St Joseph’s Institution. He received his early education at St Anthony’s Boys’ School. At the age of 15, his father sent him to study at Mungret College in Limerick, Ireland and entered the Irish Province of the Jesuits in 1951.
He studied literature at University College, Dublin and philosophy at St Stanislaus’ College, Tullamore. He was first sent to Hong Kong in 1961 and to Australia in 1963 for his theological studies at Pymble.
He returned to Singapore to complete his studies and final training for his ordination to priesthood. These would have both taken place at the Church of St Ignatius Church, had it not been suggested that the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd would be more appropriate. The reasons given were that his parents came from that parish and his father, Frank James, had been a teacher at St Joseph’s Institution across the road.
Thus Fr James was ordained by Archbishop Michael Olcomendy on 16 January 1966 at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd – the first Jesuit to be ordained in Singapore. The next evening, Fr James celebrated mass at St Ignatius Church, followed by a Chinese dinner at Kingsmead Hall, hosted by his parents and the Jesuit community for 130 guests.
After completing his theology studies in Australia, he went to New York for further training and studies before returning to Singapore in 1968. Fr James stayed a year, during which he was very much involved in the folk mass choir that introduced “guitar liturgy” to one of the Sunday masses.
He eventually moved to Australia where he taught and engaged in pastoral work, as well as did post-graduate studies. While there, he left the Jesuit community and eventually settled in England where he lived with his mother.
MAS Rewrite by Fr Frank Doyle, SJ
Anniversary Book: 50 years of the parish of the Church of St Ignatius, 2012