Fr. Jim Lewis to be inducted in MC Hall of Fame


Rocco Mancilla

Fr. Jim sitting in his office delighted in being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Teacher, priest, counselor. Is there anything Fr. Jim Lewis can’t do?

Fr. Jim has spent most of his life at Mt. Carmel. Recently he has been named for induction into the school’s Hall of Fame. Fr. Jim has met the criteria and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during the 2022 Alumni Banquet.

People can be nominated for work outside of the school, volunteer work, financial donations, being a great athlete, and being a helpful resource while they are a part of Mt. Carmel. “The limit right now is that no more than six people can be nominated depending on how the votes go,” says Alex Austin, Director of the Alumni Relations and Special Events who was able to sit in on the meeting to choose the 2022 Hall of Fame honorees and cast his own vote for who should be nominated.  Mr. Austin says that selecting those for induction into the MC Hall of Fame happens on a yearly basis.

What makes the Hall of Fame special is having people that are inducted exemplify what it means to be a Man (or Woman) of Carmel. The process of selecting candidates starts with the Alumni Relations staff coming together and giving a brief bio and then casting a vote for the most notable nominee. Mr. Austin thinks Fr. Jim is a perfect inductee because of his extensive record of forty years of service in the Carmelite order as well as his being active in his community. “This is long overdue for him,” says Mr. Austin. “He’s definitely a special case because he’s someone that’s still here day to day that we get to interact with.”

Fr. Jim  came to MC as a faculty member in January of 1984 and stayed until July of 1988, when he was then transferred to Joliet Catholic Academy. He returned to Mt. Carmel in July of 2015 and has been here ever since. “I had an assignment in Houston, Texas,” Fr. Jim said. “There was Mt. Carmel in Houston, so I was there for three years from 1977 to 1980. That’s when I started teaching formally.”

He was primarily a teacher back then, but currently Fr. Jim serves as a guidance counselor. “When I came back in 2015 I was doing primarily guidance counseling,” Fr. Jim, who has a Masters degree in social work, says of his latest stint at MC.

Fr. Jim has an extensive record from working in hospital venues to spending sixteen years at the University of Notre Dame where he worked part-time as an alcohol and drug counselor. What got him interested was his friends working in the field. Fr. Jim primarily saw a need for it everywhere he went, primarily schools.

When Fr. Jim first heard of his induction into the Hall of Fame, he was very excited and very surprised. “Now I’m in my thirty-ninth year of ordination. Over half of my life has been as a priest so it’s just I like what I do and I like having different ministries.”

Outside of Mt. Carmel, Fr. Jim is a member of the board of trustees at the University of St. Francis. He has been doing that now for fourteen years. In his lifetime, Fr. Jim has worked for a lot of great people and organizations. “It’s kind of like exercising muscles outside of what I would normally do.”

Besides currently working as a counselor at MC, Fr. Jim enjoys hosting mass for all the students of Mt. Carmel.

“It’s exhilarating to be able to do a number of different things as a Catholic priest and maintain to be faithful to my priesthood but also to have these very experiences as I have at Mt. Carmel, as I have at the University of St. Francis, and Joliet, as I did in Notre Dame for a number of years and then for a number of years before Notre Dame.”

Fr. Jim is overall an ideal pick for the Hall of Fame and an excellent resource for the Mt. Carmel community.