Fr. James Edward Pfeifer, OMI, son of Steve and Marie Louisa, “Fr. Jim”, priest of Jesus Christ and Oblate of Mary Immaculate, a real man’s man and a real Priest’s priest, came gently, quietly and “plumb wore out” to the end of the trail, finishing the long journey and great adventure of his life, dying at the old Guadalupe Church, which he just finished working so hard and enthusiastically to repair and expand. He’s been “almost home” for the last few months.
He was preceded in death by Frances L. Trcalek, Stephen Pfeifer, Ronald T. Pfeifer, Charles J. Pfeifer, Catherine R. Haden and his dog, Paco, who were already waiting with the porch light on to welcome him home.
He is survived now by his sisters, Mary E. Pawlik of McAllen, Virginia A. Jarzombek of Schertz, Ruth B. Taliaferro of Georgetown, Lucille D. Meyer of McAllen and Margaret M. Albert of Bellingham, Wash.; cousin, Fr. Ted Pfeifer, OMI and Bishop Mike Pfeifer, OMI; dog, Fritz; old pal, Carl Powell; Fr. Phil and Fr. Roy; and many nieces, nephew and thousands of spiritual sons and daughters and brother priests, in the Valley and all over.
Born on the farm in Alamo, he was the third of 11 children. Growing up on the farm and attending the parish school, his heart, mind and imagination were fired up by the Oblate Fathers he met, the Mystery of Christ, and the lives, lore and legends of the “Cavalry of Christ” on the Rio Grande. In 1945 he joined the Oblates to fight the Devil in the desert making his first vows at St. Peter’s Novitiate near La Lomita Chapel on the Rio Grande, mother Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, where he finished the race and met Christ face to face!
He studied in Rome and was ordained there on October 28, 1951, serving as a Vatican diplomat and treasurer for the Oblate General House. He served as treasurer of the Texas Oblates and was pastor of Sacred Heart in Falfurrias for seven years in the 1970s. He was pastor of Sacred Heart in McAllen for almost 20 years, serving there twice interspersed with over 10 years as chaplain of Charter Palms treatment center for addicts and helping at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mission.
His great courage, wisdom of heart and compassion made him a warm and encouraging confessor, counselor, grandfather and father figure and big brother to thousands. He was a true instrument of the peace of Christ. A man of few words and much “Corazon”!
In 2002 he came back with his pal Fritz, to be a spiritual grandfather, watch over and take care of Fr. Roy and the people and menagerie of the “Old Guadalupe” in Mission. He was the “Padrino” of Nacho, the camel of the Three Kings and a loyal, loving admirer, not only of the animals, but more so of all the people he shared the journey with. He was one of the main advisors and promoters of the now beautifully completed repair and expansion of the venerable Old Guadalupe Church, built in 1927, the year he was born in Alamo.
Fr. Jim sought and served Christ valiantly, celebrating and communicating the mystery and the message of His love faithfully for the people he served. He fought the angel of death all his life and dodged all of his arrows until the last. The boys of Alamo and the Cavalry of Christ don’t run and hide when the angel of death or the devil marches on their camp. They stand and fight and when they can’t stand any more, they fight flat on their backs, in the tradition of “Fr. Jim’s” “tocallo” – Jim Bowie at the last stand of the Alamo.
Fr. Jim finally lost his mighty battle with the angel of death, but he sure gave that old angel the fight of his life. If angels have teeth he sure lost some in this fight! Now he reaches the fullness of life as he sees Christ face to face and knows him heart to heart. He has vanquished the devil forever and from Heaven will be watching over and praying for and with us.
Praise be Jesus Christ and Mary Immaculate.
The Rosary was held at Sacred Heart Church in McAllen on Thursday, April 24. The funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Mission on Friday, April 25.
In San Antonio, a Rosary was held at the Oblate Lourdes Grotto on Sunday, May 4. A funeral Mass was held at Oblate College Immaculate Conception Chapel on Monday, May 5, followed by burial at the Oblate Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to Our Lady of Guadalupe Building Fund, the last great project closest to his heart.