Columban Fr. Jimmy Fleming was honored recently by the Birmingham Mail newspaper that designated him as Local Hero for his work in the city.
Fr. Fleming has opened his home to people who can’t support themselves, spends his time visiting the sick and has helped people with crime and drug problems to turn around their lives.
Fr. Fleming moved to Sparkhill in Birmingham, United Kingdom, twelve years ago after doing missionary work in Pakistan. He immediately jumped into a life of helping to bring together different religions in Birmingham using the languages he learned abroad as well as his experiences.
He took in failed asylum seekers who had been living on the streets and let them sleep in church buildings. Later, when he was moved to his current of St. Catherine of Siena, he started taking people into his own home and currently has two people from Eritrea living with him until they can find a way to support themselves. To date, he has offered a bed for the night to more than 100 people who would otherwise be living on the street because they aren’t allowed to work in the U.K. and aren’t entitled to benefit payments.
Despite not having a car, Father Fleming, now 63 years old, travels across the city visiting sick people in Birmingham and Solihull, all at his own expense. He said, “I feel very privileged, I’m not really sure if I deserve it. It’s nice to be recognized for what I do, and I’m very grateful for it.”
Birmingham Mail TUESDAY, AUGUST 28, 2012