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> Issue 73 > Page 63 - From a Wonderful New Biography Called Father Jimmy: Father Jimmy Thompkins in Reserve Mines

Page 63 - From a Wonderful New Biography Called Father Jimmy: Father Jimmy Thompkins in Reserve Mines

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1998/6/1 (206 reads)

at all. They would give them hell and preach brimstone and the devil and a lot of superstitious stuff. We were so inferior and afraid. They preached fear of God rather than love of God • 'how God loves us and when we work and do things for each other, that can be an act of prayer. That's the kind of religion Dr. Jim? my spoke. "He told us this story about a community • they all woke up in the morning and their elbows were fused. And they sat down for breakfast and they filled their spoon and the food would go right over their heads. They did not know what to do about it. So they called in the wise man. He sized up the situa? tion and said, "Try feeding the fellow across from you.' So he filled the plate and fed him and the guy across fed him • and that's how they were fed, helping one another. "Dr. Jimmy taught that Christ was a very simple person. He was a revolutionist. He wanted change." Many years later, Mary Laben told how Father Jimmy nur? tured potential community leaders: "Father Jimmy was an individualist. He pinpointed you. He picked out Jimmy Marsh and he picked out Joe. He concentrated and made sure that they read the things they were supposed to." Jimmy Marsh recalled Father Jimmy's influence: "We didn't know if we were communists or Catholics. We heard the communists and they used to rile us up, singing the 'Red Flag' and going to meetings at midnight • we thought it was great. We were just young, open to ideas; maybe we were being developed in the wrong way.... "[Father Jimmy] certainly changed my life. I was a fly-by- night young fellow.... And when he came around here first, we didn't know anything about education; All we thought about when we were young was to get a job in the pit. There was no mention of any kind of reform. Things were pretty bleak. And Jim Sampson Motors 132 TOWNSEND STREET, SYDNEY, N.S. YOUR VOLKSWAGEN FULL PARTS & SERVICE AUTHORIZED DEALER 539-1610 PHONING LONG DISTANCE CALL TOLL FREE ... 1-800-349-1610 GLENGARRY HIGHLAND - GAMES - Our 5P' Year! SATURDAY AUG. 1,1998 Individual Piping, Drumming, Highland Dancing, Massed Bands OFFICIAL OPENING 12:45 P.M. Heavyweight Sports Track & Field Tug-of-War IVIAXVILLE, ONTARIO NORTH AlVIERICAN PIPE BAND CHAJVIPIONSHIPS PRE-GAMES TATTOO FRIDAY, JULY 31, 1998 7:30 p.m. For information, contact Connie Blaney, Box 341, Maxville, Ont. K0G1T0 Phone (613) 527-2876 Fax (613) 527-1594 he made us realize what was going on. He said we needed edu? cation and a system of self-help.... He started telling us, 'You've got to do something about your system. The rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer. The first thing you people want to do is start reading books about everything • especially economics....'" "I wasn't around at the time," recalled Sister Francis Do? lores, "but when he came [to Reserve] he looked around and he said to himself that what was needed here was some kind of edu? cational backup.... 'They need books, they need books, they need more than handouts or pamphlets,' and he started running down the Extension movement. 'Handouts,' he used to say, 'from Coady's pocket, isn't enough.' And it sounded derogatory at the time but he was getting a point across." ONE DAY, AFTER HE HAD FIRST put out his own books in the vestibule of the rectory, he decided to start a real library. Clearing the front room of the glebe house of furniture, he in? stalled shelves and filled them with books, creating the first "People's Library." Buttonholing individuals on the street. Fa? ther Jimmy would say, "Come to the glebe house and I'll get you any book you need. The man who reads is the man who leads." Father Jimmy saw books • the right kinds of books • as a way of preparing people for social and economic action. He saw the library as a powerhouse, and recognized the vital role of the librarian in social change. He later wrote: "The trained librarian of the Regional Library ought to be, first and foremost, an Adult Educator. It is one thing to be active in the library service and it may be quite another thing to be a promoter of Adult Education. Adult Education works towards the development of the community...." Father Jimmy's glebe house library opened on July 5, 1935, four months after he arrived in the parish. The room blos? somed with slogans, clippings from the priest's readings, books, banners and papers of all kinds. Children discovered its won? ders, and took home books, arousing the interest of their parents. The library filled up on Saturday nights, and people from out- NOW AVAILABLE! Mv '''ts'Showing Traditional Natalie MacMaster "my roots are showing" Traditional Fiddle Music of Cape Breton Island AVAILABLE ON CD & CASSETTE AT ALL FINE RECORD STORES Q WARNER MUSIC CANADA
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