Rev. James N. Gelson, SJ, was born on March 29, 1929, in Brooklyn, NY. He attended Seton Hall Prep in South Orange, NJ, and entered the Society of Jesus at the Novitiate of St. Isaac Jogues in Wernersville, PA, on September 7, 1946. He received a BA and a Master of Arts from Loyola University Chicago, as well as a Master of Arts in the Classics and a Licentiate in Philosophy from West Baden College in West Baden Springs, IN. He also received a Licentiate of Sacred Theology from Woodstock College in Woodstock, MD, where he was ordained a priest on June 19, 1960.
While in formation, Fr. Gelson taught English, math and catechism at the Loyola School in Jamshedpur, India. He returned home just in time to attend all seven games of the 1955 World Series and see his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers win their first pennant.
Following his ordination, Fr. Gelson served for two years at Wheeling Jesuit University as a professor of logic and philosophy. In 1963, he began a 16-year tenure at Georgetown University, serving in a multitude of roles from director of non-academic personnel and assistant vice president for finance to work with the National Center for Alcohol Education and director of Alcoholism Overseas, Inc. While at Georgetown, he also served Catholic University for two years as assistant to the president (1969-1971).
In 1979, Fr. Gelson became the parish administrator at St. Matthew Church in Eagle, ID, where he served for nine years. He was then named pastor at St. Ignatius Church in Baltimore for three years. Following a brief sabbatical, Fr. Gelson spent four years working with the outreach program Food For The Poor in Florida. In 1996, he became associate pastor at St. Thomas More Church in Boynton Beach, FL, and in 1999, moved to St. Lucy Church in Highland Beach, FL, where he also served as associate pastor for 14 years.
In 2013, Fr. Gelson came to the St. Claude La Colombière Jesuit Community in Baltimore, where he served pastorally and was missioned to pray for the Church and the Society of Jesus. He died peacefully on June 5, 2023, at the age of 94.
Fr. Gelson was the son of Marie Curtin Gelson and James Norbert Gelson. His mother died when he was six and his father married Rosemary M. Gelson. Fr. Gelson was predeceased by his brother, John F. Gelson, Sr. He is survived by Patrick A. Gelson (Louisville, KY), Richard and Janice Gelson (Convent Station, NJ), Albert and Diane Gelson (Breiningsville, PA), Gregory S. Gelson (Charlotte, NC) and Kathleen Gelson and James McEachern (Rindge, NH) and numerous nieces, nephews and great as well as great-great nieces and nephews.