Fr. Jim as Brother Kurt, CFA 1966-1970 Alexian Brothers
The Alexians trace their origin to the early 12th-century Beghards, male counterparts of the Beguines, laywomen who followed a devout style of life in a limited degree of common life. The men did not get much attention until they made a great contribution in history in the city of Mechelen, in the Duchy of Brabant (in central Flanders, now Belgium), some time in the 14th century, during the terrible ravages of the Black Death. Some laymen united under the guidance of a man named Tobias to succor the plague-stricken without taking any vows or adopting monasticism. One of their most obvious activities was caring for those stricken with the bubonic plague, along with their families, and burying those who died. These laymen lived in little rooms or cells (from Latin "cella," a cell that gave rise to their early name of "Cellites"). The plague victims became the outcasts of the society and were thrown outside the city walls, along with the other marginalized folk, to die. Moved by compassion, these laymen came together and vowed to take care of these victims who were abandoned by not only the state and the church, but also their families. Later on, the group attracted more men who chose to abandon their secular lives to live in community as brothers and to serve the needs of the poor. Eventually, the Catholic Church saw the utility of the brothers and invited them to be formally recognized as a religious group and subsequently gave them pontifical status. The brothers were associated with a chapel dedicated to Alexius of Rome, who had served many years in a hospital at Edessa in Syria, and they began to be called the Brothers at St. Alexius Chapel, a name that evolved into that of Alexian Brothers, their modern name.
Fr. Jim joined this Order after high school wanting to care for the sick. He was with them for about two and a half years. This was one of the best times of his life. He started in Gresham, Wisconsin and was eventually transferred to Chicago, Illinois. He has continued to work in the areas of health.