Father Jim (Jaap) Borst
Mill Hill Missionary
May he rest in peace
Jim was born on 3rd August 1932 in Ursem, Diocese of Haarlem, the Netherlands. His father, Leonard, a draper, was married to Margaret (née de Haan). Jim came from a large family of 9 boys and 3 girls. Following secondary education at our colleges in Hoorn, Tilburg and Burn Hall, he studied philosophy in Roosendaal from 1951 to 1953. From 1953 to 1957 he studied theology at Mill Hill, London. He took his Perpetual Oath on 7th May 1956 and was ordained priest on 7th July 1957 at Mill Hill by William Cardinal Godfrey.
Following ordination, Jim studied Science and Economics at Cambridge University, leading to an M.A. Degree. In September 1963, he took up his appointment to the Prefecture Apostolic of Kashmir and Jammu. He served the Mission and School in Baramulla up until September 1975 and then moved into what he termed “a travelling ministry” all over India and beyond. This entailed full-time work on renewal, especially charismatic renewal, including retreats for priests and religious, and ‘village retreat ministry’. He returned to Kashmir in March 1991 from where he continued his work at three levels: contemplative prayer, charismatic renewal and sharing of faith. His handbook, “On Sharing your Faith” was widely distributed. He was also closely involved with the publication of the Kashmiri New Testament and Psalms. In later years, he concentrated his efforts on evangelisation among Muslims in the Kashmiri Valley. Linked to this was the establishment of a school and hostel for under-privileged children of convert families in Shivpura (Srinagar) and a school in rural Pulwama. Jim founded the Good Shepherd Sisters community to assist him in the task of evangelization, but it did not survive. These activities of Jim, in the midst of a Muslim Society, frequently met with opposition from various quarters, and also entailed considerable personal risk, including the risk of expulsion.
Jim/Jaap ministered in Kashmir and throughout India for 55 years – to the point of becoming a national figure. His missionary example and lifestyle was an inspiration to those around him. On the Society front, he was the principal architect in the drawing up of our current Constitutions and Directives around the time of the 1982 Chapter.
In early August, Jim suffered a heart attack and was admitted to hospital in Delhi. Shortly afterwards a pacemaker was implanted, and he seemed to respond well to treatment. After two weeks he was discharged and later returned to Srinagar. At around 12:20 p.m. on 5th September, he experienced some pain and asked a friend to help him lie down. He died at around 12:35 p.m. local time in Srinagar City. May he rest in peace.
The requiem Mass will be presided by Bishop Ivan Pereira on 7th September at 2:00 p.m. in Holy Family Church, Srinagar, followed by burial in the Christian Cemetery, Srinagar.