1933 – 1997 (June 5)
Owen Raymond Jackson was born on December 26, 1933, to Owen Jackson and Alice McDonnell Jackson, in the Bronx, New York, and was baptized there in the Church of Holy Family, on January 1, 1934. He received his early education at St. Anthony School and Cardinal Hayes High School. In 1952, “Ray” entered the United States Marine Corps, and by the time he was separated from service, in 1956, he had earned the rank of sergeant. On September 8, 1956, he was received into the Province as a novice, and professed simple vows on September 10, 1957. Three years later he made his solemn profession, and in 1961, received his B.A. degree from Villanova University. He pursued theological studies at Augustinian College, Washington, DC and was ordained to the priesthood on January 30, 1965, by Francis Cardinal Spellman in St. Nicholas of Tolentine Church, Bronx, New York.
Father Jackson spent almost his entire ministry in the field of education. He taught religion at Austin Preparatory School in Reading, MA., and at Monsignor Bonner High School, Drexel Hill, PA. He was a member of the Augustinian Mission Band, served in campus ministry at Villanova University, where he was also a professor, and at Merrimack College, North Andover, MA. He was also very active in Marriage and Family Enrichment Programs. From 1979 until 1981, he was pastor, prior and treasurer at St. Rita Parish, Philadelphia.
At Villanova, Father Ray was very active in the Justice and Peace Center, which he co-founded, and in contemporary social issues on the local, national, and international levels. His automobile bumper sticker, "If you want peace, work for justice," was his motto and way of life. His firm belief in social justice joined with his commitment to the Augustinian Order and to the Church was paramount in his book, Dignity and Solidarity. His writing aimed at creating sensitive, knowledgeable, and conscientious members of society. He enlivened students to develop an ever present awareness of their personal dignity and their responsibility within the human family. Father Ray's approach offered sufficient evidence that individuals can effect social change and, through his style and expertise, he motivated students to that end.
Father Shawn Tracy, O.S.A., homilist at Father Ray's Funeral Mass, emphasized his priestly commitment to the Lord, with these words: "If I can say anything to you tonight, it would be that Ray at the bottom of his heart was "priestly," and that he would want us all to reflect on our own priestly dignity as God's people. He never wanted to be the hero; rather he wanted everyone else to be raised to the level of greatness promised to them by the Gospel."
Father Jackson died on June 5, 1997. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Thomas of Villanova Church, on the campus of Villanova University. Interment was conducted at the Augustinian Plot at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, PA.