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James P. (Jim) McEntee, R'51 (4/9/1931 - 9/13/2004)

A pair of articles are attached below: the first was written by Diana Macalintal, Associate for Liturgy, San Jose Diocese, and the second article (scroll down) is the Santa Clara County proclamation that renames the Civic Center Plaza in Jim McEntee's honor.

Remembering Jim McEntee

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Last Monday, one of our Church’s best took his place with the circle of saints. Jim McEntee spent his life preaching the Gospel. Once in a while, he used words to do it. He advocated for the poor, he marched for peace, he helped warring factions reconcile, he sheltered the homeless, he welcomed orphans into his family, he fed anyone who was hungry.

At his funeral, two of his children spoke. The last several days they had heard stories about Jim, the voice for the poor. But to them, he was always just “dad.” He sang to them silly songs, taught them how to drive, and barbequed in the backyard for family and friends. But he also taught them to care for the earth, for each other, and for those in need. One of them said that he and his brothers and sisters would join their dad on his various rallies. “Growing up, I didn’t realize that most 7-year olds didn’t go on marches with their father and Cesar Chavez every weekend.”

The way Jim taught his children was the same way he preached the Gospel—not by words alone but by actions. And he did it not always with extravagant deeds but with a consistent and integrated lifestyle, one he learned by praying and living the Eucharist week after week. For his kids, he was a hero not for his extraordinary works of justice but for his everyday simple acts of love. For the forgotten of society, he was a companion not because he conquered unjust systems but because he was and asked us all to be good stewards of our resources. For our Church, he exemplified Gospel values because he encountered Christ not simply in church but in every person he met.

As liturgists, we can learn much from Jim McEntee. The main thing we can learn is that no matter how good our catechesis is, no matter how many bulletin inserts we make, no matter how much we try to explain the meaning of symbols, our actions in the liturgy (and outside of it) week after week will teach louder and deeper than any of our words. One extraordinary liturgy might leave an impression, but good, solid, genuine, simple liturgy week in and week out will change lives. We may work many hours to craft just the right prayers and homilies, to clothe the church with beautiful environment, or to get our harmonies perfect. But often it’s the things that we don’t pay attention to that will catechize over the long run. The liturgy will always teach. Our job is to make sure that what it communicates is what we intend it to teach.

Let us remember Jim McEntee and all who have taught us our faith, and let us be attentive to all the different ways we teach and communicate that faith.

Diana Macalintal
Associate for Liturgy
On-line newsletter


McEntee Honored: Civic Center Plaza to Bear His Name


SAN JOSE, CALIF. – Today, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors took the unusual step to name the County’s Civic Center Plaza after the late James P. McEntee, Sr., who held leadership positions in County Human Relations, from 1976 to his retirement in 2003, and was a model of human kindness and compassion. McEntee died last September leaving a legacy of advocacy for social justice.

McEntee had a long history of building bridges between communities, bringing programs and services to the people in Santa Clara County. He was a founding member of the Confederation de la Raza Unida, founding chairperson of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara County, a founding member of the Emergency Housing Consortium, and the Help House the Homeless Coalition.

In the late 1980s McEntee urged the county to open up its armories to temporarily house the homeless during winter, a program that has continued throughout the years. Jim, fluent in Spanish, also worked very closely with the United Farm Workers of America beginning in1965. From 1962 to 1965, Jim served as the Executive Director of the Latin American Mission Program in San Francisco. Jim also served as Executive Director of Voluntary Action Center of Santa Clara County from1973 to 1976.

During his tenure with the County, he served as the Director of the Human Relations Commission. He later served as Manager of the Office of Human Relations until his retirement in 2003. He was responsible for the Human Relations Commission; Citizenship & Immigration program; Dispute Resolution Program Services; Network for a Hate-Free Community; Institute for Non-Violence program, and the Youth Advisory Task Force. Jim retired in July 2003 after 27 years of service.

McEntee held a B.A., Degree in Philosophy from Saint Patrick’s College Menlo Park and a Degree in Theology and a Master of Divinity Degree from Saint Patrick’s Seminary. Prior to entering the world of secular public service, Jim McEntee also served as a Roman Catholic Priest. He was associate pastor at Saint Catherine’s Church in Morgan Hill and at Saint Louis Bertrand Church in Oakland.

Jim was involved in church, civic and community activities. He was married to Ann McEntee, a true partner for social justice and a teacher, and with her reared a large multi-cultural family.

In 1990, Santa Clara County Bar Association awarded Jim its Distinguished Achievement Citation – for non-lawyers who have made a significant contribution to the legal community and/or administration of justice in Santa Clara County.

The Board’s decision was based on the recommendation of the Jim McEntee Legacy Community Committee (JMLCC), which held two public meetings where residents expressed their sentiments on how best to honor Jim McEntee’s memory. Under consideration were proposals to rename the County Civic Center Building, the Board of Supervisors Meeting Chambers, and the County Civic Center Plaza. Those attending the public meetings, including his wife Ann, voted overwhelmingly to recommend that the Civic Center Plaza be renamed in McEntee’s honor. JMLCC will raise funds for appropriate plaques and/or signage for the Plaza.

“Jim embodied the spirit of brotherhood among humanity, said Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “A great number of the gatherings, celebrations and programs Jim led took place right here on the plaza. It is as though his spirit is already present. It is fitting that we celebrate his life by naming this plaza in his honor.”

County of Santa Clara, Office of the County Executive, 6/7/2005