Scranton bishop-elect laments young death of priest who struggled with drugs


Bishop-elect of Scranton Joseph C. Bambera has lamented the “unexpected and untimely death” of a priest who struggled with drug problems.

Fr. James B. Shimsky, 50, died on Thursday at St. Mary’s Hospital at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He had been at an addiction treatment facility in the area but had been admitted to the hospital for a medical problem, a press release from the Diocese of Scranton says.

According to the Scranton Times-Tribune, the Scranton native was arrested Jan. 30 after police said he was seen buying cocaine from his parked car in North Philadelphia. He had been on a leave of absence from the diocese since Feb. 1.

After studies at the University of Scranton and Pope John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Mass. Fr. Shimsky was ordained in June 2001. He served as assistant pastor at several parishes and was a chaplain at St. Michael’s School in Tunkhannock. He directed Hispanic ministry for the Greater Wilkes-Barre Area.

Fr. Shimsky was a promoter of the Holy Name Society and the Sacred Heart and Rosary Societies in Wilkes-Barre.

In his last assignment he was pastor of Corpus Christi parish in Montdale, Pa.

“The unexpected and untimely death of Father Shimsky is a great loss for his family and friends, and for the entire Diocese of Scranton,” Bishop-elect Bambera said in a Thursday statement. “His ministry touched the lives of many people. He had willingly embraced his treatment program, and he was working hard to address his issues. It was our hope that through his efforts and with God’s grace he would be able to return to us and continue his priestly service.”

“Our prayers and thoughts are now with Father Shimsky, his family and friends, and all who knew him. May he rest in peace.”

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