James Thomas Wray, a native of Northfield and a 1977 graduate of Mainland Regional High School, is one of only about 80 married men in the U.S. to become a Catholic priest through Papal dispensation.

A former Episcopal cleric, he was ordained on March 7 in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati at St. Margaret of York Church in Loveland, Ohio. He said he is now awaiting his new assignment in the Diocese of Cincinnati.

“The dispensation came directly from the Holy Father,” he said of Pope Francis. Wray converted in 2011, spent years studying the Catholic faith, and was ordained a deacon in 2014.

The program to allow former Episcopal priests to become Catholic priests is about 40 years old, he said, and called the Pastoral Provision.

Wray was brought up attending Grace Lutheran Church in Somers Point. It was the church chosen by his Episcopal father James Victor Wray and Methodist mother, the late Romanelle Wray, he said.

He became an Episcopal priest in 1990, serving in the Midwest. He also spent more than a decade as the summer chaplain at the Church of the Redeemer in Longport. His last year there was 2009, he said.

Wray’s wife Janet, and children Katie, 21, and James, 18, converted to the Catholic faith with him.

His brothers are Jeffrey Wray, of Northfield, and John Wray, of Linwood. 

His father was a lector in the Lutheran Church, and had a profound influence on him. Wray said his father supports his decision.

“My dad really planted the seed that faith was real to him and above all church was real to him,” he said.

He celebrated his first Mass of Thanksgiving March 8 at St. Margaret of York Church.

“Jesus taught we should all be one, “ Wray said. “There are 30,000 different Protestant denominations. There is goodness, beauty and faith in them all. And their source and origin is the Catholic Church.”

Women's history

Atlantic Cape Community College is holding an art display for Women’s History Month at the Cape May County Campus, 341 Court House-South Dennis Road, Cape May Court House.

The work of several local female artists is on display in the first floor cafe through March 31. “Women of the Arts and the Second Letter Stringing Bee” features paintings, drawings, and letter correspondence between artists Cheryl Crews, of Villas in Middle Township, and Barbara Maxwell, of Sweetwater in Mullica Township.

A Meet-the-Artist reception will be held 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. March 30 in the cafeteria. Contact Tammy DeFranco at 609- 463-8113 or tadefran@atlantic.edu.

Health care honors

University of Delaware graduate student Mark Rucci, a 2011 graduate of Wildwood Catholic High School, was recently on a team that won a national health policy competition sponsored by the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration.

The 45 student teams were challenged to find ways of solving health care problems.

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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