Fr. Ray Jackson was born in New York City in 1933. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, he joined the Augustinian Order at Villanova University. He graduated from Villanova in 1961 and was ordained a priest in 1965.
He spent the rest of his life teaching and inspiring young people as a high school teacher and college professor. At Villanova, he was immensely dedicated to both Campus Ministry and the Center for Peace and Justice Education, which he co-founded. Thirty-six years ago, Fr. Ray started Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week as well as Balloon day. Fr. Ray passed away on June 5, 1997 but his legacy lives on through Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, Balloon Day, and the Center for Peace and Justice Education.
“I think that it was this joyful love of the miracle of life that compelled him to attend to those who too often feel life’s unjust weight, whose potential for joy has been undermined or eroded by the evilness of social structures, policies, and behaviors. I think he was moved to serve the poor, homeless, and those who suffer needlessly because he wanted everyone to share in the joy of God’s creation that he felt.”
- Carol Anthony, Peace and Justice
“When I first met Father Jackson, I was homeless. He tried to build me up when I was homeless. His friendship meant a great deal to all of my family. All of the good deeds he did were based on the Bible and were done for us. Now he is with God. He did things God’s way!”
“Fr. Ray molded me. I came to Villanova looking for a cause, Fr. Ray helped me find one…actually he helped me find many. Those memories will last. The bright balloons and raffles on Balloon Day, the Hunger Awareness Run, those chats, and most of all that smile. I’ll miss them, but I’ll remember them. To write about him is a bit of an injustice. I know he’d want us to act, to give, to pray. He told me so.”
-Chrissy Faistl (’98)
“Father Jackson could make you laugh, drive you crazy, tick you off, and make you laugh again quicker than anyone I have ever known. Young people were attracted to his steady and somewhat brusque spirituality. He might have always remained a Marine in clerical garb but he was a man of God and God was with him. I believe that Ray helped me appreciate the number of different ways one could serve God. True piety does not have to be meek and mild. It can be robust and dynamic. Virtue can come packaged as an ex-marine, a lifelong Cardinal fan, and a storehouse of the latest jokes.”
-Dan Regan, Philosophy