Fr. James L. Cleary, OFM Cap, former pastor of Mission Santa Inés in Solvang, passed into the Lord's hands on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 in Oakland California. Fr. Jim was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 31, 1937, the son of Hugh X. Cleary and Madonna U. Magers. He graduated from St. Francis High School in La Cañada-Flintridge and served two years in the U.S. Army. He entered the Capuchin Franciscan Order at San Lorenzo Seminary in Santa Ynez on September 4, 1964. He was ordained a Catholic priest on September 5, 1970 at St. Bede the Venerable Church in La Cañada-Flintridge.
Fr. Jim served in various places as a Capuchin priest, including Our Lady of Angels Church in Hermiston, Oregon, St. Francis High School, and San Buenaventura Friary in San Francisco. He was Pastor at St. Lawrence of Brindisi Church in Los Angeles, and later came to Mission Santa Inés in Solvang as pastor in 1985. He led the parish for six years and was oversaw the construction of the new parish hall, which was blessed in 1989. He also served in leadership of his Capuchin province as a counselor, from 1979-1982. Fr. Jim was later vicar at San Lorenzo Seminary before he returned to Los Angeles, where he lived at St. Lawrence of Brindisi. Because of medical conditions he lived his last few years at Mercy Care Center in Oakland.
Fr. Jim was known as a man of prayer and good humor. He was skilled not only at pastoral work but with his hands. He had a deep faith. Fr. Jim continued to help out as best he could even as his medical problems increased. He handled the consequences of his condition with patience, even though at time his disabilities wore on him. He was a compassionate man who treated everyone with kindness.
Fr. Jim was predeceased by his mother, father and sister Theresa. He is survived by his siblings: Hugh Joseph, John Francis, Mary Jeanne, Jerome, Madonna, Marian and Regina, many nieces and nephews and his Capuchin Franciscan brothers.
A Rosary will be prayed at 10:30 am on Saturday February 9, 2019 at Old Mission Santa Ines, 1760 Mission Drive, Solvang, with the funeral mass at 11:00 am, followed by burial at San Lorenzo Friary, 1802 Sky Drive, Santa Ynez, CA. There will be a reception at San Lorenzo.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made in memory of Fr. James Cleary to Capuchin Franciscan Order, 1345 Cortez Ave., Burlingame, CA 94010.