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James Tompkins

James Tompkins

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Father Jimmy Tompkins (September 7, 1870 – May 4, 1953) was a Roman Catholic priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

 who founded the Antigonish Movement
Antigonish Movement
The Antigonish Movement blended adult education, co-operatives, microfinance and rural community development to help small, resource-based communities around Canada’s Maritimes improve their economic and social circumstances. A group of priests and educators, including Father Jimmy Tompkins, Father...

, a progressive effort that incorporated adult education
Adult education
Adult education is the practice of teaching and educating adults. Adult education takes place in the workplace, through 'extension' school or 'school of continuing education' . Other learning places include folk high schools, community colleges, and lifelong learning centers...

, cooperatives and rural community development
Community development
Community development is a broad term applied to the practices and academic disciplines of civic leaders, activists, involved citizens and professionals to improve various aspects of local communities....

 to aid the fishing and mining communities of northern and eastern Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

, Canada. The Antigonish Movement
Antigonish Movement
The Antigonish Movement blended adult education, co-operatives, microfinance and rural community development to help small, resource-based communities around Canada’s Maritimes improve their economic and social circumstances. A group of priests and educators, including Father Jimmy Tompkins, Father...

 later evolved into the Extension Department (now the Coady International Center) of St. Francis Xavier University
St. Francis Xavier University
St. Francis Xavier University is a post-secondary institution located in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The school was founded in 1853, but did not offer degrees until 1868. The university has approximately 5000 students.-History:...

.

Father Tompkins believed in the emancipating power of education and sought to improve economic conditions through study groups and co-operative action. "It is not enough to have ideas, we have to put legs on them", he often said. He started the first regional library in Nova Scotia along with the first credit union and a cooperative housing association in Reserve Mines that was dubbed "Tompkinsville". Father Tompkins was the Spiritual founder of the Antigonish Movement.

Brief biography


Jimmy Tompkins was born in Margaree Forks, Nova Scotia
Margaree Forks, Nova Scotia
Margaree Forks is a small community in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, located in Inverness County on Cape Breton Island.-References:*...

, a small farming community on Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island
Cape Breton Island is an island on the Atlantic coast of North America. It likely corresponds to the word Breton, the French demonym for Brittany....

. From 1888-1895, he attended St. Francis Xavier University
St. Francis Xavier University
St. Francis Xavier University is a post-secondary institution located in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The school was founded in 1853, but did not offer degrees until 1868. The university has approximately 5000 students.-History:...

 in alternate semesters while teaching there to support himself teaching Greek and Mathematics. He attended the Urban College
Pontifical Urbaniana University
The Pontifical Urbaniana University or Pontifical Urban University is a pontifical university under the authority of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.-History:...

 of the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide (Papal Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith) in Rome from 1897 to 1902. On his return, he continued teaching at St. Francis Xavier University and became the vice-rector in 1907.

Working closely with the Carnegie Corporation, he implemented various reform and modernization programs, culminating in an unsuccessful attempt to amalgamate various sectarian and non-sectarian colleges in the Maritime Provinces into one nondenominational university centered around Dalhousie University
Dalhousie University
Dalhousie University is a public research university located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The university comprises eleven faculties including Schulich School of Law and Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine. It also includes the faculties of architecture, planning and engineering located at...

 in Halifax. Although the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Halifax Edward McCarthy
Edward Joseph McCarthy
Archbishop Edward Joseph McCarthy was a Canadian Roman Catholic priest and archbishop.Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1874. In 1906, he was appointed Archbishop of Halifax, Nova Scotia. He followed Cornelius O'Brien in this position. On 14 July 1910, he...

 supported amalgamation, the Catholic Bishop of Antigonish James Morrison
James Morrison (bishop)
Archbishop James Morrison was the longest-serving bishop of the Diocese of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada...

 successfully opposed it and eventually exiled Tompkins to the tiny fishing village of Canso, Nova Scotia
Canso, Nova Scotia
For the headland, see Cape Canso.Canso is a small Canadian town in Guysborough County, on the north-eastern tip of mainland Nova Scotia, next to Chedabucto Bay. The area was established in 1604, along with Port Royal, Nova Scotia. The British construction of a fort in the village , was instrumental...

 as parish priest for Canso, Little Dover and Queensport.

As parish priest Tompkins observed firsthand the plight of the poor fishing community there and helped organize and lead what would become the Antigonish Movement
Antigonish Movement
The Antigonish Movement blended adult education, co-operatives, microfinance and rural community development to help small, resource-based communities around Canada’s Maritimes improve their economic and social circumstances. A group of priests and educators, including Father Jimmy Tompkins, Father...

 of cooperative fisheries, stores, housing projects, and adult study groups. The Antigonish Movement was eventually institutionalized in the form of the Extension Department at St. Francis Xavier, which was headed by Tompkins' double-cousin Father Moses Coady
Moses Coady
Rev. Dr. Moses Michael Coady was a Roman Catholic priest, adult educator and co-operative entrepreneur best known for his instrumental role in the Antigonish Movement...

 and which included Father (Dr.) Hugh MacPherson, A.B. MacDonald and others.

Career highlights

  • 1895, Graduates from St. Francis Xavier University
  • 1897-1902, Attends Urban College in Rome
  • 24 May 1902 Ordained in the Lateran Basilica, Rome by Pietro, Cardinal Respighi
    Pietro Respighi
    Pietro Respighi S.T.D. JUD was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and Archpriest of the Basilica of St. John Lateran.He was born in Bologna and received the sacrament of confirmation in November 1850...

  • 1902 Rejoins staff at St. Francis Xavier University
    St. Francis Xavier University
    St. Francis Xavier University is a post-secondary institution located in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The school was founded in 1853, but did not offer degrees until 1868. The university has approximately 5000 students.-History:...

    , Antigonish
  • 1907-1908, vice-rector, St. FX
  • 1908-1923, vice-president and prefect of studies, St. FX
  • 1919, Awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Dalhousie University
    Dalhousie University
    Dalhousie University is a public research university located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The university comprises eleven faculties including Schulich School of Law and Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine. It also includes the faculties of architecture, planning and engineering located at...

  • 1 January, 1923, becomes parish priest (pastor) of Star of the Sea (then called Stella Maris) Church, Canso
    Canso, Nova Scotia
    For the headland, see Cape Canso.Canso is a small Canadian town in Guysborough County, on the north-eastern tip of mainland Nova Scotia, next to Chedabucto Bay. The area was established in 1604, along with Port Royal, Nova Scotia. The British construction of a fort in the village , was instrumental...

    , including the towns of Little Dover and Queensport
  • 10 October, 1934, becomes chaplain at Bethany, the motherhouse of the Sisters of Saint Martha, Antigonish
  • 10 March, 1935-23 December, 1948, parish priest of St. Joseph's Church, Reserve Mines, Cape Breton
  • 1948 Retires due to ill health and lives at St Martha's Convent in Margaree Forks, Nova Scotia
    Nova Scotia
    Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

    .
  • 5 May, 1953, Dies at St. Martha's Hospital and is buried in Reserve Mines.

Biographies

  • Jim Lotz and Michael R. Welton, Father Jimmy: Life and Times of Father Jimmy Tompkins (1997), ISBN 1-895415-23-3
  • George Boyle, Father Tompkins of Nova Scotia (1953)