Life of Service Leads Naval Academy Graduate to Priest Anne Arundel – Capital Gazette

Serving others has always been James Bors’ mission in life.

Bors attended the Naval Academy in the 1980s, then served in the Navy for seven years and eventually became a father, husband, teacher and parishioner in Annapolis. When asked what motivates him to give so much of himself, Bors paraphrases scripture: “And he who receives much, is able to give much.”

On June 18, Bors takes the final step in his life of service. He was ordained by Archbishop William E. Lori at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore and assigned to St. Jane Frances De Chantal Church in Riviera Beach, a stone and brick Catholic parish just steps from the Patapsco River.

“My whole life has been a great gift from God,” he said in an interview. “I have been blessed by my wife, by my sons, by my parish, by my country, by my brothers and sisters in Christ. How can I not just give it back?

Although he received his new parish assignment more than a month ago, Bors’ office at St. Jane Frances is still not quite organized. Photos of agricultural landscapes and churches are piled on the floor near the desk awaiting a place on the white walls which are barren apart from a navy clock left behind by the former civil servant. Sitting on the desk is an open box with trinkets and religious texts waiting to be placed on shelves.

In the office, Bors, 61, reflects on his new position in a parish just minutes from the Naval Academy where his spiritual journey started 40 years ago.

Back then, even though he had been raised a Catholic in Prince George’s County, Bors hadn’t scrutinized the Bible as thoroughly as some of the other aspirants he’d met on the Yard, he said. . Their common interest and love for God will prove extremely important to Bors’s life.

“By the time I graduated from high school, I had a relationship with the Lord, but it was only a sprout,” Bors said. “But all that changed when I met my brothers who invited me to study the Bible.”

After graduating from the Naval Academy in 1983, Bors served in the Navy for seven years. He trained to work on submarines all over the country, from Florida to Idaho, where he met his future wife, to Groton, Connecticut, where he attended submarine school.

He spent another 3 and a half years in Hawaii on a fast attack nuclear submarine, the USS Birmingham.

Following this tour, he was ordered to return to Maryland to teach at the Naval Academy, where he retired in 1990.

Once Bors and his wife, Shirley, returned to Annapolis, it became clear that staying put was the only option. They raised two boys, Jeffrey and Michael, until Shirley’s untimely death in 2010.

“It really came out of nowhere. I was a single dad in the blink of an eye for a 17- and 19-year-old,” Bors said.

Bors cherished the time he and his boys spent with his wife and said he felt very lucky to have been able to raise his family in Annapolis the way his wife wanted. Although Bors had multiple opportunities to move to a new place to work, it was important to him and his wife to provide stability and consistency for their family, which Annapolis provided.

“My wife loved Annapolis,” he says with a smile. “Me too, it just has something to do. It’s on the water. It’s historic. We really wanted to stay.

Bors’s youngest son, Jeffrey, is now an officer in the Coast Guard.

“It was cool growing up in Annapolis,” Jeffrey said. “Growing up in the same house and still having close friends from school is something to cherish.”

They raised their family in the parish of St. Andrew by the Bay in Annapolis, and Bors led Bible studies and other faith-sharing programs. It was this bond with fellow parishioners that he and his family relied on as they sought encouragement and support after Shirley’s death.

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This life-changing event could have stopped Bors, but instead he intensified his need to serve, to continue to help as he felt he had been helped by the congregation of St. Andrew by the Bay.

Over time, he began to feel as if the priesthood was calling him. He was encouraged by those same parishioners who helped him through his grief. His sons will have the last word and they support their father wholeheartedly.

“When he initially came up with the idea that he would be a priest, I admit I thought that was the last thing he would do,” said Michael, Bors’ eldest son, who is currently pursuing a doctorate. from the Catholic University. “Most kids don’t grow up to see their dad become a priest, so it was a remote possibility for me, but I know my dad as a man of great integrity, so my brother and I knew we would support him in anything that would make him happy.”

With the blessing of his sons, he began his journey to the priesthood by moving to Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he studied for seven years. Bors described this period in the seminary as one of the best years of his life.

“I’ve always wanted to help in church, but as a worker, as a husband and father, I was lucky enough to save time to lead a Bible study. But during my preparation for the priesthood, I was surrounded by people who were equally enthusiastic about studying and learning the scriptures,” he said. “It was like being drenched in a gentle rain and then having sun all day in the most nutrient rich soil.”

Bors ended his time at the seminary earlier this year. He was assigned as associate pastor to both St. Jane Frances and Our Lady of Chesapeake, Pasadena.

“I prayed to God to place me where I was most needed and I ended up here,” Bors said. “I couldn’t be happier.”

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