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Magmer, James (Jim)

December 18, 2008
Portland OR

Jim Magmer, Jesuit, journalist, teacher, husband, father, grandfather and friend, died Thursday, Dec. 18, at age 86.
Jim Magmer was born Nov. 14, 1922, in Jackson, Mich. He moved to Portland in 1966 when he left the Jesuit order and the University of Detroit where he was head of the Journalism Department. He was ordained a priest in 1948.
In Portland he worked as an Oregonian reporter, a journalism instructor at Portland Community College, interim director of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association and freelance journalist. He helped organize a support group for married priests in Oregon,  the Umbrella Group. He served nationally as newsletter editor for CORPUS, one of the oldest reform groups in the Roman Catholic Church, and for CITI Ministries, an organizatio n of married priests.
Survivors include his wife of 35 years, Jeanne; daughter Laura Haas, Milwaukie, Ore.; son James, Lake Oswego, Ore.; stepsons Larry Robbins, Eugene, Ore., and Jody Robbins, Centralia, Wash.,  four grandsons, one granddaughter and one great-grandson; his sister Elizabeth Alicki, Grand Rapids, Mich., brother Vince Magmer, Manistee, Mich., and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Milwaukie, Ore. Remembrances to CITI Ministries, Inc or to Oregon Special Olympics ( <>  )
Jim formally started the Umbrella Group with a letter dated November 17, 1986 inviting inactive Priests to a meeting at the Jesuit Retreat House which was signed by both him and Fr. Bill Zuelke. Jim had been talking with several people before that about the idea of starting it. At that time he gave it the name, The Social Umbrella. Later we shortened it to the Umbrella Group.
From that time on, he coordinated the group and he published a monthly news letter to the members. Since data bases were new and complicated at that time, he asked me to print up labels. He would then put them on envelopes, stamp the envelopes and then mail them. Jim continued to write monthly newsletters until about 2002, when his health became poor and he asked Bob Renggli to take over. During this time, he was also active in CITI  (Celibacy is the Issue) and Rent-a Priest.
Jim was a real inspiration. Whenever he heard of a new inactive priest, he invited him to lunch. He helped many men write resumes, gave them advice about looking for work and went out of his way to help them in any way that he could.
When he heard that the local parish priest did not have much time to visit people in Meridian park Hospital, he started going regularly to visit the patients. Even though the parish priest was the Archdiocese's official chaplain, the hospital recognized him as Catholic Chaplain.

Beyond his involvement as Coordinator for the Umbrella Group and as editor of CORPUS REPORTS, Jim himself has exemplified the qualities of a married priest in his active reaching out to not only the resigned priests but also those in need of his priestly ministry for weddings, funerals, and his volunteer hospital ministry.  He made very real and vital the Nike slogan from the Portland area where it has its headquarters…..Just Do It !!!!  His own evolution into an “activist” married priest was a great model for other resigned priests moving toward more involvement in ministry.