Jay Woods Approved for Ordination on June 12

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

The Provincial Administration has approved Jay Woods, OFM, for priestly ordination next month. All are invited to watch the 11 a.m. Mass on June 12 at St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church, the parish in downtown Hartford, Connecticut, where the friars of Holy Name Province have served for more than three decades.

Jay Woods, OFM (Photo courtesy of Jay)

The liturgy, which will be live-streamed on the parish’s Facebook page, as well as the Facebook page of Holy Name Province, will be celebrated by Bishop Mark Bartosic, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago, with whom Jay became acquainted when he was a student friar serving as a chaplain for the incarcerated in the Windy City.  Those wishing to attend in person are asked to notify the parish by emailing JaysordinationRSVP@gmail.com.

The ordination Mass is being celebrated in Hartford for several reasons.

“I did my pastoral internship at St. Patrick-St. Anthony and I thought it would be wonderful to celebrate with the warm and loving community of this parish,” said Jay. “Also, the music ministry at St. Patrick-St. Anthony is fantastic and I know that it will add so much joy to the solemnity of the ordination.

“During this time of the pandemic, the grounds and open air of the church with its high ceiling were ideal for the solemn vows Mass last year and I know that it will be ideal for the ordination as well,” added Jay, referring to the Aug. 29, 2020, Mass when he and Angel Vazquez, OFM, professed their final vows as Franciscans at the Hartford church.

Jay is looking forward to celebrating ordination day with family and friends, as well as with Bishop Bartosic, who – before he was consecrated as an auxiliary bishop for Chicago – served as Jay’s supervisor for a chaplaincy role at Cook County Jail as part of his Franciscan formation.

“Bishop Bartosic was a nurturing and encouraging supervisor and my experience as a chaplain at Cook County Jail helped me to confirm my vocation to the ministerial priesthood,” said Jay. “As a prison chaplain, I journeyed with men who were facing the consequences of the decisions they had made and they welcomed me into their sacred stories.”

He added, “These encounters gave me a taste of what it was like to journey with people in the sacred sacrament of confession. The freedom that I have experienced in the mercy and love of God in the sacrament of confession has inspired me to welcome others to the sacrament as an ordained friar.”

St. Patrick-St. Anthony Parish in Hartford, where Jay is scheduled to be ordained. (Photo from the parish’s Facebook page)

The Massachusetts native, who joined the Franciscans in 2013, holds a bachelor’s degree in fine and performing arts with a concentration in theater, and a minor in philosophy, from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. This month, he completed studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago for a master of divinity degree.

Before joining the Franciscans, Jay worked for 14 years in theater, television, and film in roles such as costume director and assistant wardrobe supervisor. He joined Immaculate Conception Province in 2013 and entered the interprovincial novitiate in Burlington, Wisconsin, where he professed his first vows in 2015. One year later, Jay joined Holy Name Province, and after professing his final vows last summer, he was ordained to the transitional diaconate in September 2020.

During his Franciscan formation, Jay served a year-long internship at St. Patrick-St. Anthony, helping the parish connect with its community liturgically and socially, and by working with a housing program for homeless men in drug and alcohol recovery. From the day he joined the Franciscans, he felt a similarity between his 13-year career in theater, film, and television and his ministry work.

“I am blessed to be in another vocation that values collaboration and celebrates everyone’s contribution to a project,” he said in an interview with HNP Today.

After ordination, Jay will be headed to his new assignment at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, where he plans to study for a master’s degree in social work at Boston University beginning in September.

— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.