The clergyman died at the age of 86. His work led him to travel all over India. He was an inspiration for everyone. His Muslim friends held him in high esteem and called him "Jim Khan".
Srinagar (AsiaNews) – Fr Jim Borst, a Mill Hill missionary, died at 12.35 pm on Wednesday at the age of 86, in Srinagar (Kashmir). He had a “pure heart” and was an inspiration for the entire Church, said Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC).
Born on 3 August 1932 in Ursem, in the Diocese of Harlem (Netherlands), Fr Jim Borst was ordained priest on 7 July 1957. In September 1963 he took up his post in the Apostolic Prefecture of Kashmir and Jammu. Until September 1975 he performed his mission at a school in Baramulla.
Later, he began his special "travelling ministry" around India and beyond. His full-time mission was dedicated to renewal, especially the charismatic renewal, with retreats for priests and religious, and the "village retreat ministry".
He returned to Kashmir in March 1991 where he continued his work at three levels: contemplative prayer, charismatic renewal and sharing of faith. His manual, On sharing your faith, has been widely distributed. Fr Jim also worked on publishing the New Testament and the Psalms in the Kashmiri language.
The missionary’s ministry in Kashmir and the rest of India lasted 55 years, turning him into a national figure. His missionary example and lifestyle were an inspiration for everyone.
In 2010, he received an expulsion order, which the GCIC strenuously opposed. The priest was accused of proselytism because of his contribution to education. According to some, envious Islamic intellectuals were behind the accusation.
Early last August, Fr Jim suffered a heart attack and was rushed to a Delhi hospital where he underwent surgery and had a peacemaker implanted.
Initially, his health seemed to improve, but last Wednesday, his conditions deteriorated. At 12.20, he experienced some pain and asked a friend to help he lied down. He passed away not long after.
For Sajan K Georg, the loss of dear friend has been a very painful experience. “Fr Jim Borst was a unique missionary. He always suffered at the hands of the people he helped as a teacher, a friend and the head of various educational facilities.
“Many times, the Church hierarchy frown at him for his passionate work for the cause of 'Good News in the Valley'. He never refused any request, either financial or otherwise.”
"Fr Jim was a priest of integrity and the pure heart of this saint was an open book. The troubled Church can always draw inspiration from Jesus through the pure heart of Fr Jim Borst.
“His Muslim friends called him affectionately Fr Jim Khan. He sowed the seeds of love in Kashmir. We pray that they may blossom one day, and that people shall remember him for his love and affection for human beings."