John Aloysius Ward was born in Leeds on 24 January 1929, the son of Eugene and Hannah Ward. The Ward family later moved to Wrexham, North Wales, where the young John Ward was brought up. He was educated at St. Mary’s Primary School, Wrexham, and at Prior Park College, Bath. He subsequently joined the novitiate of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin whom he had known from their house at Pantasaph, North Wales.
Once he had completed his novitiate, and his priestly studies, he was ordained to the sacred priesthood at the Franciscan Parish in Peckham in 1953. He returned to reside at Pantasaph. Fr. Ward was then appointed to be in charge of the Diocese of Menevia’s travelling mission. He was appointed Parish Priest of Peckham and also Guardian of the Franciscan Friary there. In 1969 Fr. Ward was appointed Minister Provincial for the Capuchins of Great Britain. In 1970 he was appointed as an adviser to the Father General of the Capuchin Order in Rome. In this responsibility he looked after the spiritual needs of English-speaking Capuchins throughout the world. In this position he thus travelled widely, going on many visitations and missions, to places such as Africa and South East Asia.
Pope John Paul II named him as Coadjutor Bishop of Menevia on 1 October 1980. He succeeded Bishop Langton D. Fox in February 1982. A short time later, on 25 March 1983, he was named Archbishop of Cardiff.
Especially in his early years as Archbishop, he sought very successfully priestly vocations, and a good number were ordained by him during his tenure. Archbishop Ward was very prominent during the miners’ strike, he went to London to meet with the Secretary of State for Energy. He also made a prominent response to the famine in Ethiopia which led to an appeal which raised a substantial sum of over £100,000, this appeal culminated in a large attendance Mass in Cardiff Arms Park on 6 June 1985.
Archbishop Ward also called together a Diocesan Pastoral Congress, laying down the foundations for the renewal of structures within the Archdiocese of Cardiff. He was a very strong and active supporter of ecumenism, and became the first Catholic Bishop to address the General Synod of the Church in England. He attended the 1994 Synod of Bishops in Rome on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
Archbishop Ward retired on 26 October 2001. Ward retired to a bungalow, where he displayed his archiepiscopal coat of arms over his front door. He remained active during his retirement, celebrating the Golden Jubilee of his priestly ordination at St. Mary’s, Bridgend, on 7 June 2003.
He died on Tuesday 27 March 2007. His Funeral Mass, celebrated by Archbishop Peter Smith, took place on Monday 2 April 2007, at St. David’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Cardiff.