Father Jimmy (James) Tompkins (
September 7, 1870– May 4, 1953) was a Roman Catholic priestwho founded the Antigonish Movement, a progressive effort that incorporated adult education, cooperativesand rural community developmentto aid the fishing and mining communities of northern and eastern Nova Scotia, Canada. The Antigonish Movementlater evolved into the Extension Department (now the Coady International Center) of St. Francis Xavier University.
Father Tompkins believed in the emancipating power of education and sought to improve economic conditions through study groups and co-operative action. "It is not enough to have ideas, we have to put legs on them," he often said. He started the first regional library in Nova Scotia along with the first credit union and a cooperative housing association in Reserve Mines that was dubbed "Tompkinsville".
Jimmy Tompkins was born in
Margaree Forks, Nova Scotia, a small farming community on Cape Breton Island. From 1888-1895, he attended St. Francis Xavier Universityin alternate semesters while teaching there to support himself teaching Greek and Mathematics. He attended the Urban College of the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide(Papal Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith) in Romefrom 1897 to 1902. On his return, he continued teaching at St. Francis Xavier University and became the vice-rector in 1907.
Working closely with the
Carnegie Corporation, he implemented various reform and modernization programs, culminating in an unsuccessful attempt to amalgamate various sectarian and non-sectarian colleges in the Maritime Provincesinto one nondenominational university centered around Dalhousie Universityin Halifax. Although the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Halifax Edward McCarthy supported amalgamation, the Catholic Bishop of Antigonish James Morrison successfully opposed it and eventually exiled Tompkins to the tiny fishing village of Canso, Nova Scotiaas parish priest for Canso, Little Dover and Queensport.
As parish priest Tompkins observed firsthand the plight of the poor fishing community there and helped organize and lead what would become the
Antigonish Movementof cooperative fisheries, stores, housing projects, and adult study groups. The Antigonish Movement was eventually institutionalized in the form of the Extension Department at St. Francis Xavier, which was headed by Tompkins' double-cousin Father Moses Coadyand which included Father (Dr.) Hugh MacPherson, A.B. MacDonaldand others.
*1895, Graduates from St. Francis Xavier University
*1897-1902, Attends Urban College in Rome
24 May, 1902Ordained in the Lateran Basilica, Rome by Pietro Cardinal Respighi
*1902 Rejoins staff at
St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish
*1907-1908, vice-rector, St. FX
*1908-1923, vice-president and prefect of studies, St. FX
*1919, Awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by
1 January, 1923, becomes parish priest (pastor) of Star of the Sea (then called Stella Maris) Church, Canso, including the towns of Little Dover and Queensport
10 October, 1934, becomes chaplain at Bethany, the motherhouse of the Sisters of Saint Martha, Antigonish
10 March, 1935- 23 December, 1948, parish priest of St. Joseph's Church, Reserve Mines, Cape Breton
*1948 Retires due to ill health and lives at St Martha's Convent in Margaree Forks,
5 May, 1953, Dies at St. Martha's Hospital and is buried in Reserve Mines.
*Jim Lotz and Michael R. Welton, "Father Jimmy: Life and Times of Father Jimmy Tompkins" (1997), ISBN 1-895415-23-3
*George Boyle, "Father Tompkins of Nova Scotia" (1953)
*The Tompkins Institute for Human Values and Technology [http://faculty.uccb.ns.ca/tompkins/] , Cape Breton University, Sydney, Nova Scotia
*Father Jimmy Tompkins [http://www.nl.edu/academics/cas/ace/resources/jimmytompkins.cfm] in "Adult Educators You Should Know",
*"Fraught with Wonderful Possibilities: Father Jimmy Tompkins and the Struggle for a Catholic Progressivism, 1902 - 1922", Michael R. Welton, PhD [http://www.nall.ca/res/57MichaelWelton.pdf]
*"Antigonish Movement" [http://www.uccb.ca/CED/ced/1/1d.html] , Center for Economic Development, Cape Breton University
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