Rev. James J. Pillar, O.M.I., 92, died on December 19, 2020 at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Residence, Tewksbury, MA. He was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and was a son of the late Jerome H. and Gertrude D. (Swifta) Pillar. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Donald and Gerald.
Fr. Pillar began studies for the catholic priesthood in 1942 at Oblate Seminaries, St. Henry's, Belleville, Illinois and at Our Lady of the Ozarks , Carthage, Missouri. He professed his first vows on August 15, 1949 and was ordained to the priesthood in St Paul Cathedral, Minnesota on June 5, 1954. He earned his Theology and Philosophy degrees at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He studied English Literature at Ottawa University in Canada.
Much of Fr. Pillar's life was spent in the classroom teaching at the Oblate seminary in Pass Christian, Mississippi and twenty-seven years at Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 2012, a Distinguished Professorship in History was established in his name at Loyola University. It was subsequently renamed the A.D.G. Distinguished Professorship in history, highlighting his close association with Alpha Delta Gamma Fraternity.
A published American church historian, he earned his PhD in Ecclesiology at Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He retired from teaching in 1992 and did doing parish work in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He enjoyed camping in the Rocky Mountains or serving as a cruise ship chaplain.
Upon retirement in 2004, he was a resident of Oak Meadows Senior Living in Oakdale, MN. In 2017 he transferred to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Residence in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, where he remained until his death. In addition to his Oblate family, he is survived by many relatives and friends.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, funeral services will be private. Father Pillar will be buried at Saint Joseph Cemetery, East Chelmsford, MA
Donations in memory of Fr. Pillar may be made to the Oblate Infirmary Fund, 486 Chandler Street, Tewksbury, MA 01876-2849.