James was born on 7th October, 1944. His parents Mr Martin Somra and Mrs Seraphina Xalxo were simple but staunch Catholics who imparted a sound Catholic faith in him. He was the second among three brothers and four sisters. He frequented primary school in Turungakhar, Middle school in Tapkara and higher secondary school at Loyola, Kunkuri, where he learned discipline, obedience and developed maturity under two Jesuits: Fr. Paul Terrens and Fr. Francis Daniels. He decided to join the Jesuits at the end of the first year of college studies at St. Xavier’s College and Apostolic School, Ranchi. On 20th June 1966, he entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Sitagarha. He did his Philosophy in Shembaganur from 1972-75 and Theology in Vidya Jyoti, Delhi from 1977-80. He was ordained a Jesuit priest on 28th April 1979.
His first appointment after his ordination was as Socius to the Novice Master. For two years he was Asst. parish priest in Ginabahar and then went to Shembaganur for his Tertianship in 1983. On 21st November 1990, as parish priest in Manendragarh, he professed his final vows.
James was very hard-working. He consulted his senior experts and made a difference in his divergent assignments. He was serious, accurate and thorough in his works. He was amiable, honest, kind, sincere, obedient, prayerful and particular in making the annual retreats. He drove a tractor for cultivation in Jhingo; so the villagers called him “rakhad” a rough-tough and hardworking person. He took hard things as a challenge in life and never got discouraged. In football and hockey, one could hardly beat him. People of Ambikapur and Jashpur dioceses will remember him for his building works and agriculture.
He was an apt person to work in God’s vineyard. As a devotee to Mother Mary, he accomplished his responsibilities faithfully for the greater glory of God.
Bishop Patras Minj, DD, SJ