Rev. James R. Bates

Rev. James R. Bates, 91, of Indianapolis, Indiana, passed away peacefully on March 3, 2021.  Jim was born on May 9, 1929, to Willbert and Genevieve (Dehner) Bates in Fowler, Indiana.  He graduated from Sacred Heart Academy and St. Joseph’s Academy before obtaining a Political Science degree at Notre Dame in 1951.  Upon his graduation, he enlisted in the Army Reserves and enrolled at Georgetown Law School, graduating with a JD in 1953.  He then began active military duty and was attached to the CID unit in Heidelberg, Germany, where he served until his discharge in 1955.

Jim practiced law in Ft. Wayne until 1960 when he entered the Mount St. Mary Seminary in Cincinnati.  He was ordained a Catholic priest on May 24, 1963, in the Diocese of Lafayette and was named Associate Pastor of St. Mary Cathedral in Lafayette, Indiana.  In 1965 he was made Associate Pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Muncie and became chaplain at the Ball State Newman Center.  In 1972 he was the Founding Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in Muncie, Indiana.  In 1985 he was named Pastor of Our Lady of Grace in Noblesville, Indiana.  While Fr. Jim served at OLG, the parish built the existing church at which his funeral will take place.  He became the administrator for St. Louis de Montfort in Fishers, Indiana, in 1997.  Fr. Jim formally retired from the priesthood in 2002, though he continued to serve wherever and whenever he was needed throughout his life.

Fr. Jim is survived by his nieces: Rose Sorenson, Mary Jo Everly, Judy Garrett, Pat Bennett, Dot Wilson, Kathy Funcheon Whitaker, Sharon Funcheon Murphy and his nephew, Michael Funcheon; as well as numerous extended family and friends.  He was preceded in death by his parents; his sisters, Helen Bates Funcheon and Mary Agnes Bates Salla; his nieces: Betty Spurgeon, Joan Boggs, and Carol Salla and his nephew, Kenny Salla.

Calling hours will be from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on Thursday, March 11, 2021, at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, 9900 E. 191st Street, Noblesville, IN.  A Funeral Mass will be held March 12 at 10:00 am at Our Lady of Grace.  Reservations will be required to attend the funeral Mass (please visit for instructions).  In addition, the Funeral Mass will be livestreamed at and at  A private burial will follow at 1:00 p.m. at the Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery in Fowler, IN.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Father Bates’ memory to:

Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana by clicking HERE

St. Francis of Assisi Church in Muncie by clicking HERE

Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Noblesville by clicking HERE.

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