Operations manager retires after 11 years at St. James

Jim Newell, retiring operations manager for St. James Catholic Church and school for almost a dozen years, juggles his dinner and cards as he greets Sandy and Al Turner during Newell’s outdoor retirement celebration Nov. 13.

LIBERTY — Jim Newell had the chance to serve as operations manager for St. James Catholic Church parish for almost a dozen years. His second retirement came Friday, Nov. 13.

“After spending some odd 40 plus years in the corporate world, being here at St. James has allowed me to leave something truly meaningful,” he said.

During Newell’s tenure at St. James, he has led the charge in overseeing the most recent school expansion, the parking lot and the new church sanctuary.

“The church was a project that stretches back more than seven years ago,” said Newell, during his outdoor retirement reception. “Being here is being part of something so very worthwhile. It’s not about chasing a buck all the time. On top of it all, it’s been fun.”

Newell’s one regret has been getting the new church doors open but COVID-19 hasn’t allowed the building to be used as designed due to restrictions in numbers.

Al and Sandy Turner waited in line to speak to Newell and share their appreciation.

“We have been parishioners for more than 30 years,” Sandy said. “Jim has a great sense of humor and he is such a friend to everyone, helping us out as well.”

Office manager Daryl Ann Sweetland called Newell one of the kindest people she has ever known.

“Jim has put in a lot of time here,” she said.

Parish council chair Julie Harmon said the word dedication pops into her mind when she thinks about Newell’s service.

“He’s the perfect person to work at a church,” she said. “He is kind-hearted and gentle.”

Father Mike Roach, the lead pastor, said Newell is a very kind, generous person who has served this community of St. James.

“He treated everyone with compassion, and was very giving,” Roach said. “He guided us through a very challenging building project, for which we are very grateful. We will miss his smile and generous spirit each day. We wish him the best. He deserves to take some time to travel and spend with family.”

Rich Venditti, who served on the hiring committee all those years ago, helped serve meals at Newell’s retirement reception.

“I helped with those interviews,” he said. “I knew when we had interviewed Jim we didn’t need to bring others in. He is certainly professional, kind, understanding and accommodating. Working at the parish is not a high-end corporate job, but it is a mission and Jim embraced that, especially in building that church. He treats people wonderfully.”

Roach agrees and calls Newell “a generous steward of God’s love and for the good of St. James parish.”

“We have been blessed by his presence,” he said.

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