Rev. McCASLIN, James
U.S.A.: [October 1927]
Father McCaslin’s footprints remain etched in the sand of grateful souls
Columban Father James McCaslin died early on the morning of 16 September 2003 in a nursing home in the United States of America, many miles from where he would have liked to have been. The 75 year old priest left his heart in Hong Kong among the Filipino people whom he had served faithfully for over six years before a debilitating cancer forced him to return home for treatment. He was cared for first by his doctor brother and his wife and later at the Columban retirement and nursing home in Bristol, Rhode Island.
Ordained in his home parish in Omaha, Nebraska, on 18 December 1954, Father McCaslin went to The Philippines the following summer and after studying language worked in parishes in Zambales. He was later appointed to work in the Student Catholic Action movement in Manila Archdiocese and also served as chaplain at Far Eastern University. He made quite an impact in that work, he was young and energetic and a good basketballer and the priests who followed him into that work many years later discovered he was well remembered both as a good friend and spiritual leader as well as for his sporting skills.
While still a young man Father McCaslin returned to the United States and taught in the Columban formation programme, but returned to The Philippines in 1963 where he spent a lifetime working in parishes, giving retreats and studying. He wrote a book on the spirituality of the founders of the Columban Mission Society and did significant research on the work of their priests and sisters in various parts of The Philippines.
At the age of 68 when many are looking for a quiet place to put their feet up, Father McCaslin volunteered to come to Hong Kong and work among the Filipino domestic workers who have flocked to this city. He became a familiar sight to early morning commuters around the Mid Levels as he faithfully wended his way to early Mass each day, and as the cancer in his body began to sap his strength bus drivers, commuters and taxi drivers often treated him with unfamiliar and unexpected kindness.
He was a welcome friend to the hundreds whom he visited in hospitals. Those who attended masses at the Catholic Centre and in the 9th floor auditorium of the Diocese Centre also knew him well as someone who cared and who had a personal interest in what was happening. He could be quite dogmatic, and there were some topics on which he was totally inflexible and would tolerate no shades of grey in opinion. He was meticulous in the things he did, paying attention to the last small detail, and meticulous too in the manner in which he celebrated the sacraments, demanding correct demeanour from those who were attending and precision in the responses at Mass.
He was a talented retreat director and teacher. He read prolifically and was a regular contributor to the Sunday Examiner. He brought all his energy to everything he did and inspired others to make an extra effort. He is described as the type of person you want to be near, and someone for whom you would work hard just to make sure he noticed you.
When he left
Hong Kong he was sadly missed by many people who had found an unexpected
inspiration in the person of Father McCaslin. He was admired for his wit, his
ability to allow people to be relaxed and his determination to carry on despite
the pain of the cancer that was eating up his body. Even though he has been away
from Hong Kong for over a year his footprints remain etched in the souls of many people whom he served.
28 September 2003
服 務 本 地 菲 律 賓 團 體 多 年 的 聖 高 隆 龐 傳 教 會 麥 神 父 ， 於 二 ０ ０ 三 年 九 月 十 六 日 在 美 國 安 息 主 懷 ， 享 年 七 十 五 歲 。
麥 神 父 曾 經 在 香 港 服 務 菲 律 賓 信 徒 團 體 約 六 年 ， 後 因 癌 病 而 被 迫 返 回 美 國 休 養 。 返 美 初 期 麥 神 父 由 他 任 醫 生 的 家 人 照 顧 ， 後 轉 到 羅 德 島 聖 高 隆 龐 會 的 退 休 及 療 養 院 生 活 。
麥 神 父 一 九 二 七 年 十 月 生 於 美 國 內 布 拉 斯 加 州 ， 五 四 年 十 二 月 十 八 日 在 家 鄉 堂 區 晉 升 司 鐸 ， 翌 年 暑 期 於 菲 律 賓 散 巴 斯 學 習 語 文 ， 並 於 當 地 堂 區 服 務 ； 其 後 在 馬 尼 拉 總 教 區 出 任 公 教 學 生 運 動 工 作 ， 並 出 任 當 地 大 學 的 神 師 。
麥 神 父 曾 返 回 美 國 出 任 傳 教 會 的 培 育 工 作 ， 至 六 三 年 重 回 菲 國 ， 從 事 堂 區 牧 民 工 作 ， 帶 領 避 靜 。
年 屆 六 十 八 之 年 ， 麥 神 父 從 菲 律 賓 來 港 ， 服 務 本 地 菲 律 賓 人 士 ， 在 中 環 公 教 進 行 社 小 堂 和 教 區 中 心 九 樓 主 持 彌 撒 ， 亦 協 助 英 文 公 教 報 的 工 作 。
2003 年 9 月 28 日
◆ 先賢錄－－香港天主教神職及男女修會會士 (1841-2010), 天主教香港教區檔案處, 2010.