Fr. Stephen Jones
Fr. Stephen Jones

I grew up in Ft Worth, Texas, in a family that was very active in our local Anglican (Episcopalian) parish. From a very young age I felt drawn to ministry in that ecclesial community. After college and a period of discernment, I went to seminary to study for the Anglican priesthood. During that time (in the year 2000) I married my wife, Kerri. We currently have 4 children. In 2001 I was ordained into the Anglican ministry. I was honored to serve as the associate pastor of our diocese’s cathedral parish from 2001 to 2004, and as the pastor of my own parish from 2004 to 2010. This was a time of great blessing in my life.

However, while serving as a pastor I began to reflect on certain theological questions: about the nature of the Church, about Anglicanism’s claim to catholicity, about the Petrine ministry and role of the Bishop of Rome as focal point of unity for all Christians. I had always considered myself a “catholic” Anglican and the theological teaching and liturgy at my parish reflected the best of the Anglo-Catholic movement as put forth by such people as Bl. John Henry Newman, Edward Pusey, and the other leaders of the “Catholic Movement” in the Church of England. In addition, I was a committed priest of the Society of the Holy Cross (SSC). This priestly society, founded in England in 1855, is composed of clergy sympathetic to the Catholic expression of Anglicanism within the Church of England. In fact, one of the tenets of this society was to seek “corporate reunion” with Rome. Many of the faithful members of the community I served took this call to reunion seriously and we began to discern, as a group, the possibility of entering into full communion with the Catholic Church as a whole parish.

When, for various reasons, that possibility was denied to us, Kerri and I knew that we would have to enter the Church as individuals. Our consciences were convinced. Working with the Catholic Bishop of Ft Worth, The Most Rev. Kevin Vann, I resigned my ministry and then Kerri and I were prepared, made our professions of faith, and received the Sacrament of Confirmation. Through the ministry of Bishop Vann I had been put in touch with Bishop Gaydos, who graciously accepted me as a candidate for the Pastoral Provision – a program instituted by Pope St. John Paul II which allowed former protestant ministers to petition the Holy See for permission to be ordained as Catholic priests. After two years of study, discernment, and many examinations I was approved for ordination. In April of 2012, Pope Benedict XVI gave permission for me to be dispensed from the promise of celibacy and I was ordained deacon in May and priest in June of 2012.

Since ordination I have served as the Sacramental Minister for St. Michael’s Church in Russellville and as chaplain, and then president, of Helias Catholic High School.

Priestly ministry is always a challenge, but it is also always a blessing which imparts a great sense of joy. I can think of no better way to serve God than to dedicate one’s life to the service of His Church. Kerri and I often impart this truth to our children so that we might help them discern the vocations to which God is calling them, and we are so thankful for the opportunity to be in the diocese of Jefferson City!