Granite Falls Advocate Tribune
  • Pastor Devorak on the move

  • When most people his age are enjoying retirement, Fr. Jim Devorak is preparing to open yet another door, step through and start a new chapter in his life. After serving the Holy Family Area Catholic Community for the past 12 years, Bishop John M. LeVoir of the Diocese of New Ulm has rea...
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  • When most people his age are enjoying retirement, Fr. Jim Devorak is preparing to open yet another door, step through and start a new chapter in his life.
    After serving the Holy Family Area Catholic Community for the past 12 years, Bishop John M. LeVoir of the Diocese of New Ulm has reassigned Fr. Jim to serve as senior associate pastor of the Church of St. John in Darwin.
    For the past 12 years he has been the pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Montevideo, The Church of St. Andrew in Granite Falls and the Sacramental Minister of the Catholic Church of St. Clara in Clara City. For the past 40 years Fr. Jim has served the Diocese of New Ulm as a priest.
    The Holy Family Area Catholic Faith Community will celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. this Sunday at the Training and Community Center (TACC) in Montevideo in recognition of Fr. Jim’s priestly anniversary of his ordination and his 12 years of ministry in the area faith community. Following the mass there will be a lunch and open house at the TACC from 1 to 3 p.m.
    The chapters of Fr. Jim’s life did not start in 1972 when he was ordained to the priesthood on August 27, at The Church of St. Michael in Madison. The chapters did not start in 1963 when he graduated from Madison High School.
    The first chapter of his life began in Canby where he was born. Fr. Jim is the oldest of six children. “I have three brothers and two sisters, I am the oldest,” he shared as he talked about his earliest memories growing up on a farm. His parents were of Czech and German heritage. “They rented farms until they could afford to buy one in Madison, I was 3 or 4 years old then” he smiled as he recalled moving into the Norwegian community.
    Jim attended eight years of Catholic School at St. Michaels in Madison. He explained that the Sisters of Notre Dame out of Mankato always tried to recruit everyone into the clergy. “It didn’t work on me; I didn’t decide to become a priest until I was in high school.”
    While he was in high school Jim got a reprieve from chores to be a member of the track team. As a high school student Jim excelled in math and science, but the rural school was not strong in the classics. “If I hadn’t become a priest I think I would have been a physicist. It might have been a lot easier than being a priest.”
    His calling came to him through reading about Catholic missionary work in East Asia, China, Japan, Korea, Latin America and Africa as he paged through the Maryknoll magazine his folks subscribed to. Once he made his decision to follow his calling he said that his Mom was okay with his decision, but that his Dad had a little difficulty. “The idea that a farmer could be a priest was so remote to him he couldn’t conceive it”.
    Page 2 of 3 - Jim’s dream of becoming a missionary priest was derailed when he came head to head with other young priests were strong in prep school-taught classics as well as Greek and Latin. He entered the Diocesan seminary in Saint Paul and was ordained in 1972.
    During his priestly ministry, Fr. Jim’s has served parishes in Marshall, North Mankato, Willmar, Graceville, Barry, Glencoe, Fairfax, Tyler, Lake Benton, Hutchinson and Stewart before coming to Montevideo and Granite Falls.
    Throughout his years of ministry he pursued another dream; flying. He had a childhood fascination of making toy airplanes gave way to learning to fly and eventually building experimental planes. He built an ultra light experimental plane before building an experimental plane that could carry a passenger.
    “I spent more time building airplanes than flying them,” he said. His eyes lit up as he leaned back and shared, “Taking the controls in my hands – was like riding a motorcycle – only in 3D – the freedom - but with the ability to not only turn right and left but also up and down. The earth is beautiful from the sky.”
    With his move to Darwin, he decided to sell the unfinished plane. “One day I realized I had been working on it for over 20 years and decided to move on.” There was no regret in his voice knowing someone else would pick up where he left off and finish the plane.
    Throughout his priestly tenure Fr. Jim has become a trusted friend, a sympathetic ear, a participant in joyful times, a conduit of God’s healing in times of pain, and celebrating life through the Eucharist.
    “Today is a challenging time to be a pastor. We are experiencing a loss of faith in important institutions, financial, government, church, even marriage,” he said. “Trust in institutions is at historic lows. I came to this area at the height of the sexual abuse scandal and the public humiliation the church experienced. In the last dozen years our country has experienced the graying and emptying of our churches and is experiencing a strong anti-clericalism inside our culture. As a Church, Catholics are aging, unsure of ourselves; lacking in vocations, and becoming increasingly marginalized.
    “I have always tried to help people understand that our faith is not a private matter between Jesus and me. Our faith is both a personal and communal affair that is meant to transform our lives. Our challenge is to live in the world, but not of the world,” he added.
    His new position of senior associate will give him an opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist, visit the homebound, teach, visit hospitals, nursing homes and prisons and care for the dying and their families.
    “I’ll be doing what I have always done, but the buck will not stop with me.” While he fulfills his priestly duties, Fr. Jim will no longer be taking on the role of the parish administrative and financial leader in Darwin.
    Page 3 of 3 - “Starting over is not easy,” stated Fr. Jim. “I appreciate to the Nth degree all the empathy and encouragement I have gotten.”As he looked back over his years of service with the Holy Family Area Catholic Community he shared, “I have never been treated so well in my life as I have been treated here.”

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