Brother James Joseph Kumba, CSC

March 31, 1928 – May 17, 2017

Brother James Joseph KumbaBrother James Joseph Kumba, C.S.C., age 89, died on May 17th, 2017 at Dujarie House, in Holy Cross Village at Notre Dame, Indiana. He was born in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin on March 31, 1928, the son of Joseph and Helen (Kerwitzer) Kumba.

He attended St. Peter Elementary School and Beaver Dam High School, graduating in 1947. He went to work for his uncle in his Plumbing Company and studied to become a skilled and certified professional plumber and served as Secretary for the Plumbers Local Union. He was active with the Knights of Columbus in his parish and President of the Holy Name Society.

He went on a retreat with his Dad, which must have inspired him to “check out” the life of a Brother. He had been a skilled plumber for 10 years and contacted the Holy Cross Brothers who were in nearby Watertown. At the age of 28, he decided to enter the introductory program at Sacred Heart Juniorate. His schedule there included classes, prayer, and work periods. Since he was a professional plumber, his work assignment was to run a new hot water line from the boiler room to the laundry room. After three months at Watertown, he went to the Novitiate in Rolling Prairie and pronounced his first vows on January 26, 1960.

He was assigned to the staff at Dujarie Hall where he again performed his plumbing talents, by running hot water lines to all the sinks within private rooms. In 1961, he was assigned to St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio where for 11 years he was responsible for supervising the school boilers and heating and cooling systems. He organized an efficient crew of students who thoroughly cleaned classrooms each day.

In 1972, he joined the staff at Boysville in Michigan. James had suffered a back injury but enjoyed a routine of directing students in beautifying the campus with flower beds and manicured lawns. He also worked in the dormitories looking after students.

In 1979, he joined the staff at a half-way house in Detroit to oversee students as they moved into new careers.

In 1980, he took over the maintenance position at Gilmour Academy looking after facilities for any needed repairs and upkeep. It was there that he became interested in the charismatic prayer movement and joined with Brother Richard Keller to assist Richard in his work in parish ministry.

In 1982, Brother James got in touch with a fellow-charismatic disciple, Brother Paul Rosonke, who stimulated his interest by joining their community of Brothers who were helping a parish, St. Joseph Church, on a reservation in Cherry Creek, South Dakota. His talents were used in yard work, cooking, and teaching religious education to grade school students. He visited families in the evenings to encourage involvement in Christian ministry. Through efforts, two men became permanent deacons and several women helped the Sisters in religious education.

He returned to Notre Dame in 1984 to join the staff at the Holy Cross Brothers Center and assisted Brother Richard Weber with the maintenance responsibilities. A year later, he took on the responsibility of keeping the campus grounds neat and trim after Brother John Harrington retired. He continued to assist Brother Richard at the Village while he resided at Columba Hall in 2001. His vocation of helping others continued when he joined the Brothers’ Crew who weekly prepared and served meals at St. Augustine Parish’s soup kitchen. His generosity and helpfulness in any endeavor was a perfect example to those he served and lived with.

Memorial contributions, in honor Brother James Kumba, C.S.C., to support the mission and ministries of the Brothers may be sent to: Brothers of Holy Cross, Office of Development, P.O. Box 460, Notre Dame, IN 46556.