April 4, 2017
Kansas City, MO.—Monsignor James A. “Jim” Comiskey, who served in both the Diocese of Amarillo and the Diocese of Lubbock and one of the founders of the Southwest Liturgical Conference, passed away April 1. He was 95 years old.
Mass was celebrated Thursday, April 6, St. Francis Regis Church, Kansas City.
James Arthur Comiskey was born April 15, 1921, to William Francis and Lois Caroline Comiskey of Kansas City. He attended St. James School, DeLaSalle Academy and then transferred to St. John’s Seminary when he began thinking about becoming a priest.
In a 2010 article in
The Catholic Key, newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Comiskey’s vocation was not set in stone at first. He still enjoyed dating and going to dances. Comiskey attended St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana, and then left to explore all his options. He returned to St. Meinrad again and then left again. The third time he returned the bishop said, “No.”
Through a friend the young man contacted the Diocese of Amarillo and he became a seminarian for the diocese in 1944. Since its erection in 1926, one seminarian from each class attended St. Mary Seminary in Cincinnati. Jim Comiskey was the last seminarian from Amarillo to study theology in Cincinnati. While a seminarian for the Amarillo diocese, he was privileged to participate in discussions three times a week about the
Mystical Body of Christ, the 1943 encyclical by Pope Pius XII. He also had a trusted confessor as well as a priest friend he “could just talk to.”
“It dawned on me what the priesthood really meant,” he recalled. “I found myself praying ‘Lord, I give you the rest of my life. If I’m not meant to be a priest, I’ll find some other way, but I give my life to you.’”
Comiskey was ordained June 3, 1950 in Kansas City by Archbishop Edwin O’Hara. Shortly after his ordination, he was assigned to St. Ambrose Church in Wall (now in the Diocese of San Angelo) as an assistant pastor. Later assignments would include St. Joseph’s Church, Rowena; Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Groom; and, St. Margaret Mary’s Church, Lamesa.
On Sept. 6, 1958, Father Comiskey was named administrator at St. Ann’s Church, Canyon and less than three months later was named pastor. He remained there until June 1, 1962, when he was granted a leave of absence to prepare for missionary work in South America. That leave of absence ended a short time later when Father Comiskey contracted hepatitis.
Father Comiskey served as the secretary and chair of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission and in 1963, at the height of Vatican II, helped found and served as president of the Southwest Liturgical Conference, the oldest continuous liturgical conference, which now encompasses 27 dioceses in seven states. He served on the board of directors of the 54-year old conference whose principal commitment is to regional educational programs and annual study weeks intended to stimulate the people of God to active participation in liturgy. He was honored with the SWLC Faithful Servant Award in 1985.
On Jan. 3, 1965, Father Comiskey was appointed the first pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church, Amarillo, where he remained until July 15, 1971, when he was appointed pastor of St. Hyacinth Church, Amarillo. On Jan. 1, 1973, he was named director of Catholic Family Service (now Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle), Amarillo.
On May 15, 1978, Father Comiskey was named pastor of Christ the King Church, Lubbock. When the Diocese of Lubbock was formed in 1983, Christ the King Church became the Cathedral Parish and Father Comiskey opted to remain there, serving until his retirement in 1998.
In 1985, Father Comiskey was named a prelate of honor by Pope (now St.) John Paul II, with the title of Monsignor.
According to his family, Monsignor Comiskey was a counselor, teacher, musician and mostly a faithful and devoted servant of Christ. After he retired he traveled to parishes in Kansas City filling in for pastors who went on sabbatical to continue their education. He never stopped ministering God’s Word and often taught Gospel study sessions at the parishes he served. He was a believer in Catholic education, often assisting those who couldn’t otherwise attend a Catholic school.
Monsignor Comiskey was preceded in death by his parents; and four siblings, Rosemary Reiter, William Comiskey, Elizabeth Nowlin and Dorothy Post.
Survivors include 24 nieces and nephews; 46 great nieces and nephews; 30 great-great nieces and nephews; and two great-great-great nieces and nephews.