As an 8-year-old boy looking up at the crucifix in church one day, young Stephen Jones heard Christ calling him to the priesthood. He didn’t know at the time what exactly God was calling him to — but as he looks back on it now, Fr. Stephen Jones says that profound moment in his childhood was definitely the start of his vocation journey.
“Hindsight is 20/20,” Fr. Jones says. “Of course, I didn’t realize that God was calling me to the priesthood then, but I can see it so clearly now. I remember being a little boy and standing in the sacristy with my mom. There was a crucifix hanging on the wall, and as I looked upon the crucifix, I had a sense that God was calling me to ministry.”
At the time, Fr. Jones was a practicing Episcopalian living in Fort Worth, Texas. He never could have imagined that his openness to God’s will for his life would lead him to the Catholic Cathedral of St. Joseph in Jefferson City, Mo. Now, here he is! Fr. Jones is our new pastor!
Many of us got to know Fr. Jones when he served as president of Helias High School for eight years prior to serving as the Director of Stewardship for the diocese during the last three and a half years. But do we know his story? As we welcome Fr. Jones to the cathedral as our new pastor, let’s get to know him better!
Fr. Jones and his family hail from Ft. Worth, Texas. There, he served as an Episcopal priest for many years. Yet, as he continued to serve God and seek God’s will, there was something stirring in his heart every time he professed the creed.
“As Episcopalians, we professed the Nicene Creed just as Catholics do,” Fr. Jones says. “And every time we would say ‘one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic church’ something in my conscience would wonder ‘Well, where do we find the fullest expression of that?’”
It was that simple, yet deeply profound knock on Fr. Jones’ heart that ultimately led him and his family — his wife, Kerri, and their four children — to the Catholic faith.
“I had learned from studying Church history that the Bishop of Rome has a primary role in the Church,” Fr. Jones says. “That was the biggest difference between the Episcopal faith I professed and Catholicism. Theologically, we believed many of the same things, but we were not in union with Rome. And eventually, my conscience wouldn’t let me dismiss that.”
When Fr. Jones and his family decided to become Catholic, his becoming a Catholic priest was the obvious next step for him. Yet, the diocese in which they lived at the time had seen the conversions of so many Episcopal priests that the bishop wouldn’t allow any more married priests in the diocese. So, Fr. Jones and his family set off looking for a Catholic diocese to call home.
“Naturally, we looked toward Missouri,” Fr. Jones says. “My wife’s family is from Columbia, Mo., so coming to Missouri made perfect sense. It has been great being close to her family.”
Today, as Fr. Jones looks forward to his time as our pastor, he says there are many things he is eager to experience.
“This has been our home parish since we moved here,” he says. “So we know many of the parishioners. I am looking forward to growing in faith with them here. I’m looking forward to being a part of the parishioners’ lives — in good times and bad. I am also looking forward to getting heavily involved in adult faith formation. That is very important to me. And being a big part of the life of the school is exciting for me. The school being the biggest ministry of the parish, I am looking forward to getting involved there.”
As a husband and a father, Fr. Jones says he is looking forward to being home. His latest role as Stewardship Director had him traveling almost every weekend, and he is overjoyed to be at Mass with his family on Sundays.
“I will be celebrating Mass so I won’t be in the pew with them, but I will be there,” he says.
From us, Fr. Jones asks that we have patience.
“This is a new experience for all of us,” he says. “It’s new for me, being a pastor of a parish, and it’s new for you, having a priest with a family. It is going to take patience from both sides. But with patience, we can learn what it means to grow closer to Christ together!”
Welcome, Fr. Jones! We are overjoyed that you are here, and we look forward to getting to know you better and growing as Christian disciples under your leadership. May God bless you for your ever-faithful “yes” to Him!