James J. Cain, O.S.A.

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1921 – 1968 (May 13)

James Joseph Cain was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on October 17, 1921, to Patrick Cain and Gertrude O’Brien. He had three brothers and three sisters, two of whom became Sisters of Notre Dame. He was baptized in Saint Mary’s Church, Lawrence, and attended Saint Mary’s Grammar School. He went on, in 1934, to Lawrence High School from which he graduated in 1938. After working for a year as a cashier and bookkeeper, he entered Augustinian Academy, the minor preparatory seminary on Staten Island, New York, as a postulant, in 1939, and made his novitiate at Our Mother of Good Counsel, New Hamburg, New York. He professed simple vows on September 10, 1942, and solemn vows three years later, September 10, 1945, at Saint Mary’s Hall, Villanova. In June, 1946, he obtained a B.A. degree in philosophy from Villanova College and began theological studies at Augustinian College, Washington, D.C. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop McNamara at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, on June 7, 1949. While studying theology, he took summer courses in accounting at Villanova University and The Catholic University, Washington, DC, and business administration following his ordination. 

Father Cain’s first assignment was to Saint Laurence O’Toole Parish, Lawrence, Mass., during the summer following his ordination. In 1950 he was assigned to Augustinian College in Washington, DC, to continue graduate studies at The Catholic University. In 1951 he was assigned to the newly opened Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., as business and bookstore manager as well as treasurer of the Augustinian community of Saint John Facundo. During these years, as an accomplished musician, he was often requested to play the organ at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. In 1963 Father Cain was assigned to Austin Preparatory School, a new foundation of the Province, as business and bookstore manager, and instructor of religion and typing. He was active on the Board of Trustees and initiated organized fundraising for the school. In 1971 he was assigned to Our Mother of Good Counsel Novitiate in New Hamburg, N.Y., as prior and community treasurer and served for five years on the Provincial Formation Commission.

In 1976 Father Cain was assigned to Bishop Neumann High School at Golden Gate, Florida. He was business manager of the school, and in 1986 became prior of the Augustinian community there of Saint James of Viterbo. That same year he learned he was suffering from a form of terminal bone cancer. He was transferred to Our Mother of Good Counsel Monastery on the campus of Merrimack College, North Andover, Mass., where began a series of treatments at the nearby Leahy Clinic. Despite his quiet courage and determination, he died on May 13, 1988. 

Father Cain’s influence extended beyond the classroom or activity in which he engaged. His former students marveled at his ability to recall humorous events that had occurred while they were attending school. In his final days he was an example, to all, of the Christian understanding of suffering. As the homilist at his funeral Mass put it, “Father Cain achieved his greatest success in his final classroom, the chapel, the refectory, and corridors of the monastery at Merrimack.” A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at Saint Mary’s Church in Lawrence, Mass., on May 18, 1988. Aaron Lauashway, O.P., a nephew, was celebrant. Father Kevin Dwyer, O.S.A., a second cousin preached the homily. Father Cain is buried in the Augustinian plot of Saint Mary’s Cemetery, Lawrence, Mass.