Ward, Father John Anthony Joseph, S.S.
2009, February 25
Date of Birth: 1914, May 3
On Tuesday evening, February 25, 2009, Father John Anthony Joseph Ward, S.S., died suddenly at St. Charles Villa. The most senior member of the Society of St. Sulpice, Province of the United States, Father Ward was 94 years old when he returned to the Lord. For many years he had been one of the Province’s most esteemed and highly regarded members.
Born in Pittsburgh on May 3, 1914, Father Ward attended Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore where he earned the S.T.L. degree in 1939. Father Ward was ordained for the Archdiocese of Detroit on June 3 of that year.
After joining the Society of St. Sulpice in 1940, he was first assigned for one year to the faculty of St. Charles College in Catonsville, Maryland. Father Ward was then transferred to St. Joseph’s College in Mountain View, California, where he served for the next fourteen years, except for one year, 1944-1945, during which he completed his Sulpician formation program and earned a masters degree at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.
In 1954 Father Ward was named rector of St. Stephen’s Seminary in Kaneohe, Hawaii, a position which he held until 1965. He is still remembered fondly by those who attended the Seminary, as well as the people of Hawaii. After three years on the faculty of St. Thomas Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, Father Ward served as principal of St. Joseph’s High School in Mountain View, California from 1968-1975. From 1975-1981, Father Ward was personnel aide to the Provincial Superior. He returned to Hawaii during 1981-1986, serving as a consultant at St. Stephen’s Center in Kaneohe.
In 1986, Father Ward retired and moved to St. Charles Villa, where he lived for the past twenty-six years. For most of his time at St. Charles, Father Ward was in good health and continued to have his wry sense of humor. He enjoyed exploring technology through his computer, digital camera and cell phone. During his retirement years, Father Ward’s pastoral service was well known.
During the span of Father Ward’s almost 95 years, in his assignments from the east to the west, Father Ward lived a life of faith and priestly dedication. He understood that he had been baptized into Christ who came that we may have “life and have it in abundance.” He also knew, as Saint Paul says, “No one lives for himself and no one dies for himself.
For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord: so then whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s (Rom 14:8).”
As a priest and a Sulpician, Father Ward lived for others out of his deep faith and trust in the God of Jesus Christ. Whether it was teaching high school seminarians Latin or assisting the Provincial in his office, or celebrating Mass in local parishes, he brought a sense of peace, calmness and joy to his priestly ministry. Others felt that peace and joy.
His faith gave Father Ward a positive, hopeful presence in this world. He had hope and joy as the church changed dramatically almost half way through his priesthood. He had a sense of humor in the midst of life’s joys, ironies and difficulties. In his quiet manner, his faith also buoyed others up so that they experienced the joy of a belief in the Lord who is risen from the dead. It is this Risen Lord who now has welcomed Father Ward home to the place of many mansions.
On March 2, 2009, a viewing and vigil service took place at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel in Catonsville, Maryland. Father John L. Bitterman presided at the vigil with Fr. Edward J. Fraser providing reflections. Very Rev. Thomas R. Ulshafer, Provincial, was the celebrant at a Mass of Christian Burial on Tuesday, March 3, at 10:00 a.m. in the Chapel. Rev. Thomas R. Hurst was the homilist. Interment followed at the Sulpician Cemetery in Catonsville.
May this good priest and Sulpician rest in peace.
Rev. Thomas R. Hurst, S.S.
St. Mary’s Seminary & University