1941 - 2013
Fr. James Challancin, a priest of the Diocese of Marquette, died on February 3, 2013. James was born in 1941 and ordained a priest in 1968.
Fr. Challancin received a doctorate in liturgy from the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of St. Anselm in Rome, Italy. He taught at St. John’s Provincial Seminary, Plymouth, Michigan, for ten years; he then returned to his home diocese of Marquette to become the director of the Office of Worship and the Lay Ministries Leadership School. From 1995-2000 Fr. Challancin served as Director of the Rensselaer Program of Church Music and Liturgy at St. Joseph’s College, Rensselaer, Indiana. At the time of his death, he was pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Ishpeming, Michigan. Fr. Challancin had a number of articles published in pastoral magazines and also wrote the book The Assembly Celebrates (Paulist Press).
Speaking on the topic of liturgy and the sacraments in 2003, Fr. Challancin began by stressing that sacramental theology is distinctively Catholic. He said the symbolic nature of Catholic sacramental life—as seen in things like incense, candles and holy water—satisfies the basic human urge to contact the divine in a way perceptible to the senses. “Our churches smell different,” he said. A healthy sacramental life can revitalize parishes, he said. But the meaning of the sacraments is an extremely complex thing, which has grown organically from sacred tradition.
Fr. Challancin quoted early Church father Tertullian (160-225), who called the flesh “the hinge of salvation” and said that no soul can attain salvation unless it does so in the flesh. St. Augustine (354-430) spoke in an Epiphany sermon of how “water, a physical substance, reaches to the soul.” It is no accident that Catholics receive the sacraments on the flesh, Fr. Challancin said. He also spoke about how the entire Trinity, not just Jesus Christ, acts through the sacraments. Eucharistic prayers to the Holy Spirit and to God the Father stress that Christ pours out the Holy Spirit to us in the sacraments. We find unity with God in the sacraments, he said.
The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Joseph Parish in Ishpeming, MI, where Fr. Challancin was pastor.