ST. PETERBURG, Fla. — A Mass of Christian Burial was offered Monday for James Jones, OFM, who died Dec. 14 at St. Anthony Hospital. The 68-year-old was a professed friar for 44 years and a priest for 35.
Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, was principal celebrant for the Dec. 19 Mass at St. Paul’s Church in St. Petersburg, and Bishop Robert Lynch presided in the sanctuary. Diocesan priest Fr. John Tapp served as homilist. Burial followed at Calvary Cemetery in Clearwater, Fla.
James was born July 5, 1943, in St. Petersburg, to James and Anne Marie (Bengela) Jones. He attended St. Petersburg Junior College from 1961 to 1964. James was originally drawn to be a Franciscan lay brother, an so entered the Province’s training school for brother candidates in 1964.
In 1966, he was received into the Order of Friars Minor at St. Raphael’s Friary in Lafayette, N.J., professing his first vows there the following year.
James continued his formation as a lay brother at St. Francis Friary in Rye Beach, N.H., studying at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., and then St. Catherine Labouré Nursing School, while residing at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston. He received his credentials as a registered nurse in 1971.
He professed his final vows in 1970; meanwhile, he discerned a vocation to the priesthood, and so continued his education in Washington, D.C. Even though he was himself studying for ordination, James served as a member of the post-novitiate formation team from 1972 to 1976. He was ordained a priest in May 1976.
Following ordination, James served for three years as parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception Church in Atlanta, Ga., also ministering as prison chaplain at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center in Jackson. In 1979, he returned to Washington to complete his studies at the Washington Theological Union, receiving a master of divinity degree in 1980. For several months, James was a chaplain at St. Anthony Hospital in St. Petersburg, before being asked to serve as assistant novice master at St. Francis Friary, Brookline, Mass., from 1980 to 1982.
In 1982, James returned home to St. Petersburg. He resided at St. Anthony Friary for the rest of his life, except for a brief stint back north as parochial vicar at St. Francis Parish on Long Beach Island, N.J., from 1988 to 1989.
From 1982 to 1988, James was a member of the retreat team at the Franciscan Center in Tampa, Fla. After returning from Long Beach Island, he became chaplain at St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, serving there until 2005.
Due to ill health, James was forced to retire from full-time ministry in 2005, although he continued as an on-call chaplain until his death.
James is survived by his sister, Leona Thomas, and several nieces and nephews. Condolences may be sent to Mrs. Leona Thomas, 344 Blairmore Blvd., Orange Park FL 32073.
Memorial contributions may be made to: The Franciscans — St. Anthony’s Guild, 7 Jersey Street, East Rutherford NJ 07073-1012.
— Compiled by Theresa Bartha and Dominic Monti, OFM