Fr James was born in 1961. After leaving school he was employed at John McGavigan and Company Ltd, Kirkintilloch, working initially in Sales then in the Production Cost Planning department. He left the company in 1980 to begin his studies for the priesthood at St Andrew’s College, Drygrange. After his Philosophy studies he took two years out, working in his home parish, with the Little Way Association in London and returning to McGavigan’s for a time. He resumed his studies at Drygrange in 1984, moving to Gillis College, Edinburgh, in 1986. He was ordained as Deacon on 29th March 1987 and as Priest on 2nd February 1988 – both celebrations taking place in his home parish of St Machan’s, Lennoxtown.
- February 1988: Our Lady of Loretto, Musselburgh.
- September 1988: Assistant Priest to Bishop James Monaghan, Holy Cross, Edinburgh, and Secretary to Archbishop O’Brien.
- 1991: Assistant Priest, St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh.
- 1993: Parish Priest, Our Lady of Lourdes, Dunfermline, and Archdiocesan Vocations Director.
- 1998: Vicar Episcopal of Education in January and Parish Priest of Holy Cross, Edinburgh in April.
- 2004: Parish Priest, St Margaret Mary’s, Edinburgh, in addition to his other responsibilities.
- February 2006: Parish Priest of St Patrick’s, Kilsyth and Administrator of St Paul’s, Milton of Campsie and St Dominic’s, Torrance, becoming Parish Priest of St Paul’s and St Dominic’s in September 2006.
- September 2008: Parish Priest, St Patrick’s, Kilsyth, only.
- September 2014: Parish Priest of St Kentigern’s, Edinburgh.
St Kentigern’s is a Parish of the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, registered charity No. SCO08540