James Crampsey SJ
I was born in Scotland, and after spending most of my working life in England, I have now been in Edinburgh for five years, where, after two years as parish priest of the Sacred Heart Church in Lauriston Street, I now direct the Lauriston Jesuit Centre and am the Superior of the Jesuit Community.
There have probably been three distinct elements in my working life. I did a doctorate in New Testament in Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. This combined my love for the Scripture with my love for singing. I did the doctorate to prepare myself for teaching at Heythrop College, University of London. I taught there for twelve years, and in my last three years, I was responsible for the formation of the Jesuits in training. After that, I became the Provincial of the British Province of the Jesuits, and I served the normal term of six years. It was an interesting time for the Society of Jesus as a whole. In 1995 there was a General Congregation (no 34), and for the rest of my time, there was a very international flavour to the work, particularly in the development of European Co-operation. In 2000, I was part of the small community who were sent to Southall to set up a community where interreligious dialogue could be developed. After a few months, my task in that venture was to become the parish priest of a multinational community ( 67 different nationalities). This was a good strategic move and grounded our presence there. I was also chair of governors of the local Catholic primary, and had the joy of watching it move from being a failing school to being a wonderful caring community who delivered excellent education to a complex variety of children.
After eight and half years there, I returned to Scotland, and it felt good to be back in my own country speaking my own language after such a long time. I continue to love and teach scripture and preach about it. I continue my interest in interfaith work and serve on the Bishops’ Conference Commission. I still love music, and am glad to be back in a band again after many years.
The different jobs that I have done over the years have drawn different things from me. The joy of that has been that I have been able to help many people in a variety of ways as they have come into my life, and also be helped by them. I have learned that God’s promise ‘I will be with you’ is real and that it has been an important rhythm in my life. I have been lucky enough to have experienced other people as they have danced to a rhythm that I recognise, a rhythm whose heartbeat is friendship.