YONKERS, N.Y. – Father James Hammer, O.F.M., Cap., 81, passed quietly from this earthy life to the heavenly one on May 12, 2021 in Yonkers, N.Y.

He was born in the Bronx, N.Y., the only son of four children born to James Hammer and the former Margaret Moynahan. Raised in Rego Park, Queens, N.Y., he graduated from Resurrection/Ascension elementary school, and attended one year at La Salle Academy in Manhattan before graduating from the Capuchin prep-seminary high school in 1957. That same year he became a member of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars and was ordained to the priesthood in 1965. When asked why he wanted to join the Capuchins he simply wrote, “…to closely follow St. Francis”, and that he did for 64 years!

In disadvantaged and diverse neighborhoods in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Manhattan or a suburban parish in Middletown, Conn. In bucolic Garrison, N.Y. or in eclectic Maine; in the streets of Puerto Rico or the mountains of Dominican Republic this hardworking, dedicated priest responded to those with dream homes, the homebound, and the homeless all with equal attention and care.

From the college graduate to the graduate of prison Father James showed the same degree of interest and compassion. He had a special love for the newly arrived Spanish-speaking people in New York City and prepared to serve them pastorally by learning their language, culture and customs.

When assigned to New England he brought the same degree of intensity to learn all he could about his new parishioners there so he could better understand and serve them. Father James loved walking, whether city streets or the rugged terrain of Maine. He enjoyed reading and discussing topics from theology to sports and everything in between, such as his love and incredible knowledge of Native American culture and lore and his appreciation for his Norwegian heritage.

He could always be counted on for an interesting and engaging conversation. And, he loved to get in a car and just drive…and drive…and would come home with a number of delightful stories of places he saw and people he met.

Father James was predeceased by his sisters, Betty and Peggy.

He is survived by his sister, Eleanor Aiken; and his nephew, Joseph Aiken; and his Capuchin brothers who will miss this wonderful companion.

Finally, the untold number of people he met along the way whose burden he helped carry and whose lives he brightened will surely mourn his loss and ask for his intercession in Heaven. May he be enjoying his well-deserved eternal reward with the Trinity and be welcomed by St. Francis, the one he set out to follow those many years ago.

Visiting hours will be at Whalen and Ball Funeral Home on Monday 3 to 7 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in Sacred Heart Church on Tuesday May 18 at 11 a.m. Interment will follow in Sacred Heart Cemetery.

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