Fr. James Hentges is new to the Archdiocese of Regina, in fact, new to Saskatchewan and to Canada. Fr, Jim himself tells of his life story in this way:
While I have visited Canada many times before, this is my first extended stay in this beautiful and welcoming country. Let me begin by telling you a bit about myself. I was was born in a small town in southern Minnesota USA called Sleepy Eye (named after a Dakota chief, Ishtakhaba (in the Dakota language).
It was in an area settled primarily by German immigrants and still today has a very agricultural focus. My mother worked at home, raised the family and ran the household. My father was a butter-maker during WWII and then started a dairy business in the town (bottling milk and making butter). Of course, all of us children – five sons, no daughters – worked on Saturdays and holydays doing the milk routes delivering milk door-to-door. Working at the local Del Monte factory which canned peas and corn was also a summer job for us. As small town go, life in Sleepy Eye was very religious. And like many towns in Minnesota was filled with Lutheran Churches and a Catholic Church. We brothers all attended Saint Mary’s Catholic Schools where I was nurtured in the faith in which my parents had raised me. Later, I went away for high school to a prep seminary boarding school, Crosier Seminary, in central Minnesota.
Following high school, I attended Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and my last two years in college were at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis). There I received his B.A. in political science. I joined a religious community after university studies, a religious order called the Crosiers. I attended religious seminaries in Nebraska and in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and was ordained there in 1976. I completed further studies at the Benedictine Abbey university of Saint John’s in Collegeville, Minnesota, and at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome, Italy where I received my doctorate in Liturgical Studies.
I think it is important to mention that liturgy has played an important role in my own faith formation. From my earliest years going up, the Sunday Mass and the sacraments were a central activity of our family (besides often on weekdays while in school). This inspired me to study further and to take up liturgical studies as an academic and pastoral pursuit. For me, the experience of liturgy lies at the heart of my Catholic faith. The Mass itself and the Sacraments centre me on Christ and the profound gift of the Paschal Mystery, Christ’s death and resurrection. At the Mass, in the “Breaking of the Bread” and the hearing of the Word of God, we become one with Christ, and by extension, with each other.
Subsequent to ordination and studies in liturgy, I served as pastor in two parishes in Minnesota including Holy Cross Parish in Duluth. Later, I moved to the New York metropolitan area and began ministering and teachings at universities there. For 8 years I was director of campus ministry at Fordham University in NYC.
In 1998, I returned to Rome (having studied there from 1979-1982). In Rome, I lived at the residence next to the beautiful basilica of San Giorgio in Velabro (St. George’s). While in Rome, I served in various pastoral and administrative positions as well as an adjunct professor in religious studies programs. Towards the end of my 20 years Rome, I served as a financial officer and fundraiser with a non-profit organization which supports the work of the Church in South Sudan, Africa. I also had the opportunity to visit South Sudan (see photo with children of South Sudan) and then served there for some months at a nursing and midwifery training school which our organization, Solidarity with South Sudan, operated.
Some of my years in Rome coincided with the time that Archbishop Bolen spent there. While we did not work together directly, we came to know each other well serving together on the pastoral team of an English-speaking Sunday Eucharist community called Caravita. Upon reaching the end of my time in Rome, Archbishop Bolen extended me an offer to come to the Archdiocese of Regina, join the Archdiocese, and assist him and the Catholic community of Regina in ministry.
Now, besides serving as the administrator of Blessed Sacrament Parish, I am also working with Archbishop Bolen and others in the Archdiocese Pastoral Centre as Director of Clergy Files.