ST. CLAIR SHORES — Fr. James (Jim) Bjorum was a one-of-a-kind pastor with a kind heart who changed countless lives, say those who knew him best.
The beloved longtime pastor of St. Germaine and later Our Lady of Hope Parish in St. Clair Shores passed away unexpectedly Oct. 23 at the age of 75.
Fr. Bjorum led St. Germaine Parish from 1989 to 2009 before being named administrator of the newly created Our Lady of Hope Parish, a merger between St. Germaine and St. Gertrude parishes.
In 2011, Fr. Bjorum was named pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish, where he had continued to serve through the transition to Families of Parishes. In 2022, Our Lady of Hope joined with St. Margaret of Scotland and St. Isaac Jogues in St. Clair Shores, as well as St. Pio of Pietrelcina and Holy Innocents-St. Barnabas Parish in Roseville to form the SERF 1 Family of Parishes. Fr. Bjorum was moderator of the family of parishes.
Fr. Bjorum’s longevity at St. Germaine and Our Lady of Hope has left a lasting imprint on the community, particularly teachers at St. Germaine School, who remember Fr. Bjorum from when they were students and later became teachers on staff.
“Fr. Jim has been a wonderful priest and the only priest that I have known,” said Anna Elwart, a kindergarten teacher at St. Germaine School who attended St. Germaine with her two siblings from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. "Fr. Jim has been an essential part of the school and parish. He has been a mentor, a guide, and a friend to many.”
Fr. Bjorum's sudden passing was a shock to everyone at Our Lady of Hope and St. Germaine, where Elwart added he's been an integral part of the community for many years.
“Fr. Jim has married all three of us and baptized our children,” Elwart said, referring to her siblings. “He became a family friend over the years, and his presence will be missed by all who knew him. He was the heart of the parish and school. He was an example of what a priest should be: kind, faith-filled, and knew his parishioners by name and genuinely cared about how they were doing. He will be greatly missed.”
James Bjorum was born in Scotland, South Dakota, to Neil K. and Adeline R. Bjorum on Oct. 30, 1947.
After earning a Bachelor of Philosophy degree at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit in 1970 and a Master of Religious Studies from the University of Detroit in 1974, Fr. Bjorum earned his master's in theology from St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth in 1976. He was ordained to the priesthood by Detroit Cardinal John F. Dearden on Feb. 7, 1976, at St. Matthew Parish in Detroit.
Fr. Bjorum was associate pastor at St. Anne Parish in Warren from 1976-79 and St. Agatha Parish in Redford Township from 1979-82. Fr. Bjorum then served on the archdiocese's Metropolitan Tribunal from 1984-86 and was named chaplain of Bishop Gallagher High School in Harper Woods from 1986-89.
He became pastor of St. Germaine Parish in St. Clair Shores in 1989, and continued to serve the community through the merger in 2009 with St. Gertrude Parish that created Our Lady of Hope Parish.
He was vicar of the SERF Vicariate from 1992-95.
Fr. Bjorum’s funeral was celebrated Oct. 30 at Our Lady of Hope.
He is predeceased by his parents and survived by his sister, Laurie Ann (Greg) Kimball; and brothers, David (Kare) Bjorum and John (Sandy) Bjorum; as well as five nieces and nephews and seven great-nieces and nephews.