November 18, 1936 - June 3, 2020
Bishop Michael Olson will preside at the Funeral Mass on Thursday, June 11 at 11a.m. at St. Vincent de Paul Church, 5819 W. Pleasant Ridge Road, Arlington.
Interment: Following Mass at Mount Olivet Cemetery, 2301 N. Sylvania Ave., Fort Worth.
Vigil Service: Father Philip Brembah will lead a prayer vigil at 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 10 at St. Vincent de Paul Church
Father Jim O’Toole, 83, an Air Force chaplain and diocesan priest, died after a brief illness.
During his 56 years as a priest, Father Jim O’Toole spent 21 years as an Air Force chaplain and another three decades serving North Texas parishioners. But the Philadelphia native considered a brief stay in India, where he volunteered in Mother Teresa’s home for the dying, as the high point of his ministry.
Working alongside the Missionaries of Charity Brothers and Sisters, the priest helped carry the sick from the streets of Calcutta to one of the home’s spotlessly clean beds. Once settled, the Good Samaritan bathed, fed and cared for each patient, “to let them experience the love of God before they died.”
Forced to return to the U.S. for medical treatment after contracting typhoid, hepatitis and tuberculosis, the priest never forgot his three months caring for the sick, destitute and dying in one of the world’s poorest countries.
“I haven’t found anything that was more satisfying,” he told the North Texas Catholic (NTC) in 2016.
Son of the late Edith and James J. O’Toole, the deceased was educated in Catholic schools and, as an 18-year-old, began his studies for the priesthood at Assumption Seminary in San Antonio. One of his classmates was Blessed Stanley Rother. In 2017, he attended the martyred priest’s beatification in Oklahoma City.
After completing his formation at St. John’s Home Missions Seminary in Little Rock, Arkansas, the seminarian was ordained on May 16, 1964 by Archbishop John J. Kroll in Philadelphia’s Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul.
Assigned to what was then the Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth, Fr. O’Toole arrived in Texas to become assistant pastor at Sacred Heart parish in Wichita Falls. Ministering to servicemen at the nearby Sheppard Air Force Base led to a life-changing decision for the young priest. After serving briefly at several parishes, including St. Andrew in Fort Worth, Fr. O’Toole requested permission from Bishop Thomas K. Gorman to enlist in the Air Force as a military chaplain.
Years counseling military families through a wide range of problems from loneliness to marriage stress sent the chaplain to Korea, Japan, Spain and several bases in the U.S. before retiring from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel in 1989. Returning to the diocese, he resumed parish ministry and became pastor of Holy Cross parish in The Colony and later St. Michael parish in Bedford.
After retiring from parish duties in 2001, Fr. O’Toole became a spokesman for the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging—a Catholic lay organization now known as Unbound. Traveling to parishes across the country, the persuasive speaker encouraged his listeners contribute monthly toward the support and education of an impoverished youngster living in Central or South America which helped more than 50,000 children.
Fr. O’Toole visited Guatemala frequently and raised money for faith communities there as well.
Compassion toward the sick and infirmed—most likely rooted from his hospice work in India—was another defining trait of Fr. O’Toole. The pastor sometimes drove to downtown Dallas to make a hospital visit.
Fr. O’Toole is survived by several nieces and nephews.