Stephen Jones, 23, a native of Kokomo, Indiana, who graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville in May, is new to Holy Family Parish, Fond du Lac. Catholicjobs.com brought him to Fond du Lac, where he started as coordinator of youth and young adults July 1.
Jones, who has a younger sister and older stepbrother, was looking for a location with people and culture similar to Kokomo, a city north of Indianapolis surrounded by farmland and filled with down-to-earth people.
“You can minister and help people that are unfamiliar, like if I had moved to New York, but it’s a lot easier to minister to people when you are kind of on the same level with them, you kind of know what their lives are like already,” he said, noting thatHoly Family’s focus on intentional discipleship struck him and was the reason he applied.
He’s still praying about his life vocation – married, single or religious life – but Jones said he has found what he should be doing now.
“I think I have found that because everybody should always be focusing, yes, on the major ones – Am I called to find a wife? Am I called to join an order? And then how do I live that out?” he said.
“But we should also be focused on what job am I called to do? When I’m getting my education, how can I be a good student? How can I fulfill this vocation, because, ultimately, you should have been at that school or at that job because you felt that’s where God wanted you, and I really do feel like I have that here at Holy Family.”
School and/or occupation:
Coordinator of youth and young adult ministry, Holy Family Catholic Parish, Fond du Lac; I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville in May.
What is your dream job?
My dream job is this (coordinator of youth and young adult ministry). I get to do the fun side of youth ministry. This is what I love doing – sharing my faith with people on a one-on-one level, being able to be there for them, being able to organize retreats that I know will touch their lives, or organizing the different fun activities for them where we can get them having fun together, but having good fun, bringing in prayer.
What’s on your iPod?
I have a weird range of things. Matt Maher, Audrey Assad, Skillet, Weird Al, Jonathan Coulton, Gregorian chant, Divine Mercy Chaplet, a few country songs, a few rock songs; because of my dad — he would disown me if I didn’t — I have Rush, everything they’ve ever done, as well as The Beatles; Lighthouse Catholic Media (CDs). I love musicals – I’ve spent a seven-hour trip just singing “Les Misérables.” My vocal chords were shredded by the end, but it was lot of fun for me, having the window down, belting out “Les Mis,” going 70 miles an hour down the highway. More than anything, I have audio books after audio books that I listen to more than music.
If you could dine with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would have loved to (have) met Our Lady Mary, because we encounter Christ in the Eucharist all the time, but we don’t get to meet Mary one on one, unless there’s an apparition or something. That’s something I would love to do, is to meet my mother.
Who has made the biggest impact upon you?
It’s a combination of two groups of people, my (Boy) Scout leaders and my high school catechists. Joe Gust was the Scout leader my first year of Boy Scouts. Skip Heffernan was a confirmation catechist and young adult leader. These two men have probably had the biggest impact on my life out of those two groups.
I can’t even speak to how much they helped me, not only growing up as young man, but growing up in my personal faith journey.
What’s one thing that makes you unique?
I was bit by a pelican when I was very young. I was probably in fifth grade maybe when we took a trip to Florida, and my mother asked me if I wanted to see the pelicans, and I did. I was throwing fish and then she said, “You should feed one by hand,” and so I tried to feed it by hand and it nipped the edge of my thumb. It didn’t bite it off or anything, but it hurt enough that it scared me. That’s the only time my mother has ever been wrong, and she still claims I just didn’t do it right.
Describe a normal weekend:
I try to keep routine of getting up around 7 o’clock, and then every so often I’ll go to confession on Saturday morning and Mass, if I can, usually at Sacred Heart. I like to use my free time to just kind of relax and unwind. I’m big into the outside — I loved hiking, camping growing up, so if I can I spend some time outside, whether it’s just driving around, or going to lake and reading a book by the lake.
I like tinkering with my computer, tinkering with different electronics, looking up the newest specs on things, or planning to buy things I’ll never be able to afford.
I love cooking – that’s something I do on Saturday night.
Favorite Bible story/Scripture passage/prayer:
I love the narration of when the angel comes to Mary and then again when she visits Elizabeth. I love that line in there where it’s, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” I don’t know what it is about it, but it just strikes a chord. It’s just such a beautiful line and it transcends just the mere words, too, because it indicates who Mary is. … That whole narrative from the angel appearing to Mary to that proclamation right there, it’s just beautiful.
“If you are as you should be, you will set the world ablaze/on fire,” St. Catherine of Siena. I love that quote because it’s so true. If you are as you should be, which is how God wants you to be, you’ll be a beacon to others and they’ll see that light of Christ in you, even if they don’t recognize it as that, and they’ll flock to you.
What is your favorite food, dessert?
Pizza and spaghetti – between those two foods, I could live the rest of my days in bliss; I love a good old-fashioned apple pie.
A challenge in life that has strengthened your faith:
When my stepdad was diagnosed with cancer that was something that really strengthened my faith, because it really was kind of a testing of no matter how much I prayed he get better, he didn’t.
That concerned me at the time, and I had to come to the moment where I realized God’s will was not always our will.
That was something that really tested me through the process of being strong for, especially, my sister and mother, after he passed, and to deal with it myself because after he passed there was that question of why weren’t my prayers answered.
My faith really did keep me up during that time, and hold me up and keep me going. As much as I didn’t want him to die, I would have rather we had not gone through that; he was a blessing in disguise because it did strengthen my faith and help me grow. It was like my junior year of high school. He had been battling with it for four years at that point.
I love audio books, and they’ve kind of been a substitute for actual reading. That’s probably one of my favorite pastimes, is sitting somewhere that’s beautiful and nice, or in a car drive, or cleaning my room, or if I’m doing a project that doesn’t require much thought, I love listening to audio books. I love cooking. I love watching people cook, learning about it, and woodworking, but I’m not very good at that at all.
What is the most important thing you want to accomplish in life?
Be a saint and take as many people as I can with me. That’s the ultimate goal or it should be for anyone, and I know it is for me, too.
How do you live your faith every day?
I try to live my faith by just being honest. I go to Mass, if I can, daily, and I usually pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Apart from that, I try to always just ask God to let me be an instrument of (his) will this day, and really look for the opportunities to do that. I’ve seen great things come of that through random conversations where I just felt a tug where I’m like, I should talk to them, and as it turns out they were somebody that was starting out in their faith journey, or somebody that had fallen away from church, or somebody that just needed somebody to talk to them that day.
I try to just ground myself in the ritual type prayers, but then through my own personal prayers really try to get that closeness to God to where I can know his will that day and follow it. Part of that is being genuine, not putting up a front, not trying to be a holier than thou person. I’m a sinner and I’m struggling in my faith journey as well, and I might be farther along than some people, but until we’re saints, we all have work to do. If I’m struggling with something or I don’t know the answer, being honest, saying, “Hey, I don’t know. Let’s find out together.”
Name one guilty pleasure:
Young adult fiction, because you feel so awkward going to the young adult section in the library to check out a book that’s for teenagers and I’m like 23. I love it. I know I shouldn’t because it’s, technically, outside my age range, but it’s just something about the fiction that you can kind of escape from the reality of the day-to-day of life and kind of get immersed in this weird, magical or ancient world.