John Joseph Rafter Jr., 79, of Odenton, MD passed away on Wednesday, May 11th surrounded by his family. John was the son of the late John “Jack” and Anne “Nan” Rafter. John grew up in Scranton, PA where he attended Scranton Preparatory High School and the University of Scranton before entering St. Pius X Seminary in Dalton, PA. Upon hearing God’s calling that there was a different plan for his life, John left the Seminary and joined the United States Navy where he served honorably from 1964-1984. He was a cryptologic technician, utilizing his skills as a Chinese linguist in support of national intelligence-gathering efforts. John served in Taiwan, Okinawa, Guam, and other bases in the United States before settling in Maryland where he was stationed at Ft. Meade, assigned to the National Security Agency. John was especially fond of his time in Taiwan where he spent the first year of his married life, developed a deep respect for the Chinese people and immersed himself in the culture.
While John’s career called him to serve his country, it was his faith, rooted in his Catholic upbringing, that called him to live the Jesuit mission of spreading the Gospel, reaching out to those on the margins and educating men and women for others. John was ordained a permanent deacon in 1983 for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He served as a deacon at St. Augustine Church (Elkridge), Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Baltimore), St. John the Evangelist Church (Hydes) and St. Jane Francis de Chantal (Pasadena). He was a gifted preacher who had a special way of connecting the gospel to the everyday experiences of the parishioners. Some of his most cherished duties as a deacon were to administer the Sacrament of Baptism and witness marriages, especially those of his children and grandchildren. As the officiant at funerals, John had a beautiful way of honoring the dignity of the life lost while consoling the grieving. There are many parishioners, family, and friends who have been touched by his grace whether in celebratory or challenging times. He led high school youth groups and RCIA programs. After his retirement from the Navy, John worked as the first full time permanent deacon as the chief procurator-advocate on the Archdiocesan Metropolitan Tribunal after working for the Tribunal of the Archdiocese for the Military Services of the United States. He also worked for Catholic Charities, serving the homeless population in Baltimore.
John’s family will remember him as an avid reader, a golf and tennis fan with a witty sense of humor who completed daily crossword puzzles, enjoyed classical music, and his nightly Jeopardy (holding the unverified world record for the most correct answers shouted from a recliner). He was a talented writer, gifting those he loved with special words on so many occasions. John’s most gratifying accomplishment was his family. He was a devoted husband, loving father, and proud grandfather. His family is a testament to his faith, service, and character.
John is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, Anne. Also surviving are his eight children: John Rafter of Nashville, TN; Melissa (Andy) Oak of Ellicott City, MD; David (Andrea) Rafter of Towson, MD; Timothy (Beth) of Los Angeles, CA; Rebecca (Danny) Sancomb of Wheeling, WV; Mark Rafter of
Pasadena, MD; Mary Rafter of Pasadena, MD and Sarah (David) Mack of Severna Park, MD. He has been blessed with 15 grandchildren. He is also survived by his two sisters Suzanne Zukoski and Meg (Dave) Zinkham and several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in John Rafter’s honor to one of the following charitable organizations:
Fisher House Foundation
Fisher House Foundation builds comfort homes where military & veteran families can stay free of charge, while a loved one is in the hospital.
Giving Back – Linda’s Legacy
Linda’s Legacy is an all-volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to helping the homeless and inspiring everyone to get more involved with volunteering.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend the visitation at St. Jane Frances De Chantal Church 8499 Virginia Avenue PASADENA on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 pm. Where a funeral Mass will be celebrated on Wednesday at 10 am. Interment Crownsville Veterans Cemetery.