Father Jim left his physical body lovingly surrounded by close family and friends while also in the loving thoughts of family and friends living afar.
He said: “LOVE is a direct line to GOD.”
Jim recognized that his life was a journey of faith that began with a gift of a tiny Gideon’s Bible in Grade Five.
Much later in life, after working in the Royal Canadian Air Force and the BC Forest Services and having been introduced to the Catholic Faith by a friend, John Schmitz, he was inwardly directed to enter Saint Joseph’s Seminary in Edmonton to study Theology. From there, he went to Saint Paul’s Seminary in Ottawa where he completed his studies in Pastoral Counseling.
After several years as a Pastoral Associate in the military chaplaincy, he was ordained to the Priesthood in 1991. He served for a total of 20 years as a Roman Catholic Chaplain. He was incardinated in the Roman Catholic Military Ordinariate of Canada with whom he shared his faith in many communities across Canada.
Upon his retirement, he obtained his pilot’s license and travelled the world expanding his friendships wherever he went. But, once again, he was prompted toward his ministry, this time in the area of marriage. He obtained a Master’s Degree in Canon Law from St. Paul’s University in Ottawa. This allowed him to work with various marriage tribunals as a judge which he did until he was diagnosed with cancer last October at the age of 76.
In his final months, Jim made an effort to share his faith, commune with God and to experience joy up to his final breaths on this physical earth. He intended to reunite with much-loved family members in heaven which he imagined as a field of daisies where people wore white. After that, only God knows the continuation of his story.
A Funeral Mass presided by the Military Ordinariate of Canada, Bishop Scott McCaig, was held at Our Lady Star of the Sea Chapel, on the 9th of February 2022 at 10:00 am. To watch a recording of the service click on the following link.
Condolences may be offered to the family below.
Father Jim acted as our Spiritual Advisor for Society of St Vincent de Paul. He was truly a “lamp on a lamppost” I particularly enjoyed our discussions–both social and Scriptural. We at Sacred Heart Parish also benefitted from his presence as an associate priest who would fill in when needed.
I’m sorry I could not attend today, but know that I shall pray a Rosary for the peaceful repose of his soul and for the care and comfort of those he’s left behind.
Deacon Daniel Lavoie and Diane Gagne
On behalf of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 19 Wing Comox, our sincere condolences to Father Jim’s family and friends. Father Jim would often travel up-Island to celebrate Mass when our military chaplain was away. Father Jim was very instrumental in providing his guidance with our community’s move to our new location. May he rest in peace!
Jane Vincent CD (Ret)
I’ve known Jim since his first Military parish at North Bay. We have always kept in touch through Ottawa and Chilliwack. When he came to Sydney (Australia) to look after a parish that was just up the road from my place we played golf and took a road trip to Melbourne and Canberra. We played golf and did trips to shows like Les Mis and Jesus Christ Superstar. All my family and friends who met him liked him, he just fitted in with any group. Sometimes it took a bit to convince them he really was Father Jim. After he moved to Victoria I’d see him occasionally when I’d fly in to visit my friend here, last time we had brunch at Jam and gave him a slab of fresh salmon I caught and he cycled off. Loved Jim as he always listened and offered advice without judgement. He said Mass for several of my friends who passed even if they weren’t Catholic. He helped me through some dark times for which I am eternally grateful. I’m so glad I was able to visit with him last Wednesday. Jim will live on in my memory as a top bloke, a ripper mate and above all, a friend. Rest in Peace my friend in the arms of the Lord.
Casey and Madge Weber
Our condolences to the family:
When we saw Fr. Jim vested on a Sunday morning in our parish, we knew that our time spent with him, would be annointed. He had a very calm presence and he could reach the hearts of many. His sense of humor was a gift for all of us too. Rest in peace.
Madge and Casey Weber, Duncan, BC.
Sister Marina Smith, ssa
Father Jim often celebrated Mass at St. Joseph the Worker church in Victoria, and his gentle manner and deep love for people was evident. I enjoyed conversations with him. I send my sympathy and prayers to his family.
My Sincere condolences to your family. Fr. Bekkema always seemed happy as a fill-in pastor at Our Lady Star of the Sea, and, as others have already noted, would always say at the end of his reflection “Do you want to hear a joke?” I will miss him.
Melissa and Wayne Webb
Fr Jim will remain in the hearts of all the people who loved him. He was so accomplished and yet so humble. He was a gentle soul and a great comedian. His faith was truly inspiring. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart chapel community will miss you. Rest in the love of Jesus.
So sad to learn of Father Jim’s passing. We met around 1988 in Cornwallis base, NS having been introduced by my friend, Paula Fry who was married to the protestant chaplin, Rev. Wallace N. C. Fry.
It was Easter time and spent the whole weekend attending services where Jim was the priest. We became friends and he promised to come to Halifax for May 1st for my 40th birthday and he was going to rent a red convertible car and take me out for my birthday supper. Instead he phoned from Brampton and told me with much thought he had decided to become a priest as he was in training only at Cornwallis..I told him wow..never lost a man to God before and wished him well in his life’s endeavors. We only reconnected a year ago when I came across the write up in the paper from Cornwallis with his picture in it. Sadly with my throat cancer..wasn’t able to speak with him but just chatted a little on facebook. He seemed very devoted to new areas where he could reach out and help others..hence the Judge for the Marriage Tribunal..trusting he has been reunited with his sister, Susan, and he is at peace in the presence of our God.
My condolences to all of Jim’s family and friends..we were blessed to have known him.
Diane Comeau Halifax, NS
Louise Levesque Deschamps
My sincere condolences to family and friends of Fr Jim, my thoughts and prayers
are with you at this time. RIP Fr Jim and may perpetual Light Shine upon you always through
the Mercy of God.
Bonnie and charlie Gillis
Dear Family of Father Jim , sincere condolences at the loss of such a humorous , humble Priest and friend to many of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Chapel 19 Wing Comox . Our small chapel family were happy to welcome Fr.Jim as a fill in Priest over the years . He always asked at the end of Mass “ would you like to hear a joke? “ We will miss your humor Love z as nd Great Faith you shared with us . I know you are keeping the angels laughing now . Rest In Peace Father Jim
Edward & Beverly Samson
So saddened to hear of Padre Jim’s passing. Jim and I served as Chaplains at CFB Shilo. It was a sincere pleasure to have known Jim and to have the privilege to work along side him. Jim was not just a colleague in ministry, but a personnel friend. Jim was a person of strong faith which was quietly demonstrated in his daily life and his relationship with those around him. Bev and I fondly recall our times with Jim, be it over a meal, over a coffee or practicing with the community choir at Shilo (Jim had a powerfully pleasant voice). Since we parted our ways at Shio we have remained in contact, be it just a card at Christmas. This Christmas we received the saddest of news when Jim informed us of his illness. I was sincerely at a loss for words.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace.
Ed & Bev Samson
We are very pleased to read all the condolences from my brother’s friends and colloquies, it seems they knew Jim well.
Yes, Jim had a great sense of humour. One of my best memories was when golfing in C.F.B. Shilo when finishing on the 18th the group behind us, who couldn’t see us, hit a ball that rolled down the hill behind us. I said, jokingly, “we should throw it back up the hill”, Jim said no we should throw it ahead 20 feet”. That was my brother, that guy would have found his ball and said, “Wow I really crushed that”. We left it where is landed.
My brother was a Gentleman and a Gentle Man.
It was very sad having him diagnosed in early November and then dying on 20 January unable to catch his breath and speak.
Jim has gone now to see a niece, Susan and nephew David who passed recently as well as his sister Alice who passed a year ago and his brother-in-law Bill Porterfield.
The Lord has a place reserved for Jim in Heaven.
We will miss you Fr Jim Bekkema.
Bruce and Joan Bekkema and our family.
My deepest sympathies to the family of Father Jim. I had the good fortune of meeting Jim over 35 years ago at cfb Kingston. He will be forever missed. He was the kindest padre and friend and I will always be grateful for being able to share a small part of his world. Bless his soul and his family.
Father William Hann
Love is indeed the direct line to God and you lived that love in word and deed. Father Jim filled-in for me for many years when I went on holiday and he made the moment count with each and ever person. Sacred to the memory dear brother priest and we shall miss you. Rest in the eternal presence of the one you served and loved.
Colonel Dave Lett, RCAF ret
Hopefully we’re really only saying ‘See y’a Later, Jim’. We truly miss your jovial kinship at our Gorge Vale SENGORVAl weekly gatherings. The Forces Padres & Chaplain contingent continue, most assuredly, to sustain we fretful warriors & Father Jim has finally completed his duties to God & The Queen with creditable distinction; BRAVO ZULU mate – we salute your dedication and most amiable friendship over this last decade here at Victoria.
I extend my Deepest Sympathies to Father Jim’s Family and Friends.
He was such an inspiration and mentor for how to live a Christian life. I am Thankful for Denise and Cindy for taking such wonderful care of a truly special man. May God keep you in his care Jim. Always remembered, always loved.
My deepest and most heart felt condolence to Jim’s family. I’ve been one of Jim’s golfing buddies for many years while at Gorge Vale. I thoroughly enjoyed his company. He was a positive and always upbeat playing partner. He made me a better person by keeping my expletives in check when golf got the better of me. I will miss his companionship.
Rest In Peace, Jim
Condolences to the family of Fr. Ronald James Bekkema. It was a privilege and pleasure to know him, both in uniform, and amongst the seniors at Gorge Vale Golf Club. Always pleasant and optimistic, his last message to me indicated that “Spiritually, I am ready and looking forward to seeing my Lord.” He has now accomplished that mission. Ad Astra.
Jim will be greatly missed by all of his Fellow-Sufferers in golf at Gorge Vale Golf Club, where he was an active participant in Senior golf events. Always cheerful and positive, Jim contributed to the bonhomie of the dozens of regulars in the group and demonstrated the real meaning of ‘anger management’ as he would never let slip more than an ‘Oh, darn’ after missing a shot. We all feel that we’ve lost a true friend and gentleman.
Danielle De Banné
How fortunate I was to be able to chat with Jim in the final months of his life, to realize how his family took such good care of him and how blessed he was with so many good friends. Thank you Cindy and Denise for being such wonderful nieces! It was such an inspiration to discover how peaceful Jim remained in the face of death. He had an unwavering trust in God, and knew how much he was loved by his Creator. Let this be an encouragement for all of us who are left behind. I’m pretty sure that Jim’s final wish is that all we might all grow closer to the One who loves us so much more than we can ever imagine.
Reed I Cudmore
I had met Fr. Jim as a military chaplain colleague over the years, but did not serve with him closely. He was always friendly and interested in what one had to say whenever I met him.
To his family and friends I extend heartfelt sympathy.
RIP and may light perpetual shine brightly. Well done loyal and faithful servant.
Father Jim, I remember you when you came out and did a `Graveside Service’ for Bob Linslay!
It was good to see you again after all these years. I miss you!
My deepest sympathy to family and friends of Father Jim.
Until we meet again my friend, will miss you.
I met Jim in Aylmer, Quebec in 1982 in St. Mark Church Choir. Jim was a wonderful example and inspiration of God’s Love.
My sincere sympathy to Father Jim’s family. He was dearly loved by the parishioners of Our Lady Star of the Sea Military Chapel and will surely missed by all. REST IN PEACE Father Jim.
My deepest condolences to family and friends of Fr Jim
My deepest condolences to Fr. Jim’s family. It was my honour to have provided music for the beautiful funeral service. I will miss serving with him at Holy Cross when he filled in for Fr. William, his dedication to his ministry, his jokes and his kindness. May he rest in peace.