Jeffrey M. Smith, age 51, returned to our Lord peacefully on September 17, 2023, at home and surrounded by his loving family, after an extremely brave battle with cancer.
Jeff was born on July 1, 1972 and grew up in Bay City, Michigan. He lived in Michigan until graduating from college, after which he moved to Guangzhou, China where he taught English at Guangzhou University and completed missionary work. He next spent some time in Chicago, where he helped develop Epic Ministry for young adults at Holy Family Catholic Church and contributed to growing the now famous Theology on Tap that has spread to cities around the United States. Jeff’s ultimate home became New York City, where he lived for more than twenty years and was a pivotal contributor to Catholic outreach in social gatherings, professional organizations, and the arts.
Jeff was married to the love of his life Hozana (née Santos Souza), with whom he shared five years together. Among his greatest joys was bringing together Catholics and other people of good will for large social gatherings. Due to his efforts, many smaller parish and city ministries flourished as Jeff was able to connect community seekers with leaders of existing groups. When this mission reached a tipping point, the Office of Young Adult Ministry in the Archdiocese of New York was inaugurated, an office that has more than half a dozen full-time outreach people today, who carry on Jeff’s work of connecting great people with great ministries and facilitating social gatherings. Jeff founded the Manhattan chapter of Legatus, an international organization of Catholic business executives, and contributed to the development of new chapters in additional cities. After the housing market crash of 2008, Jeff founded the Catholic Finance Association to discuss ethical questions in finance, framed around principles from the social teaching of the Catholic Church; this membership organization continues to offer public debates and networking opportunities for thousands of finance professionals. Jeff believed in the power of art to move hearts and culture. While in New York, Jeff gathered visual and performance artists for an annual art and music festival in the East Village; became a pivotal board member of Storm Theatre, a company that offers stage plays from a wide variety of countries and time periods; and was a trustee at St. Malachy’s parish, the famous “actors’ chapel” in the heart of Broadway. From organizing New Years’ Eve galas to regular jazz nights near Times Square, many remember Jeff for his spirit of convivium and bringing people together for community and conversation.
Jeff is survived by his wife, Hozana; his parents, Gayle (née Confer) and Tim Smith; his sister, Stephanie (m. Aaron Levandusky); his brothers, Jason and Nathan (m. Amber); his beloved godson and nephew, Luke; his adored nieces, Caydence and Ava; his godparents, Carol and Tom Jurek; and many aunts, uncles, cousins, and very dear friends, all over the world.
Visitation will be held on Friday, September 22 from 5:00-8:00 pm (prayer led at 7:00 pm) at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, 263 Mulberry Street, New York City. Further viewing will take place at the Basilica the next morning from 9:00 -10:30 am, followed by a funeral Mass on Saturday, September 23 at 10:30 am. A reception will follow in the Basilica courtyard.
A final memorial will take place near his family’s home, at St. Ambrose Catholic Church, 929 Pearl Road, Brunswick, Ohio on September 27. Visitation will be from 10:00 - 11:30 am, with the funeral Mass at 11:30. Burial will follow at Resurrection Cemetery.
Bollinger Funeral Services of Brunswick has assisted the family with arrangements.