Meet the Chaplain: Fr. Michael K. Jones – Fairfield County Chapter
If God hadn’t called Father Michael K. Jones to the seminary, there is a decent chance the priest for the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT, would have gone on to a long career in public service.
During the 1980s, Father Jones, after graduating from Dartmouth College, went on to serve as a special assistant and speechwriter in President Ronald Reagan’s administration. In 1988, Father Jones also served as a coalition director for President George H.W. Bush’s successful presidential campaign.
Then discerning a call to the priesthood, Father Jones entered the seminary and was ordained a priest in 1992. He has served as a parish parochial vicar and as an adjunct professor of religious studies at Fairfield University. From 1995 to 2000, Father Jones served as secretary to the late Bishop Edward M. Egan of Bridgeport before the bishop went on to become the cardinal-archbishop of New York.
Today, Father Jones, 56, serves as pastor of St. Lawrence Church, a parish in Shelton, CT, consisting of 3,000 families with a school of nearly 300 students. He is co-author of Jesus our Priest: A Christian Approach to the Priesthood of Christ (Oxford University Press). He is also the diocesan vicar of development and chaplain of Legatus’ Fairfield County Chapter. He spoke with Legatus magazine staff writer Brian Fraga.
How did you discern your priestly vocation?
It was something I really thought about in college. I had probably considered it throughout my life, but more seriously in college. We had a wonderful college chaplain named Monsignor William Nolan. We had a lively Catholic student center and he was the chaplain from 1954 to 1987. Some 40 young men during his tenure became priests. After college, I went to work in Washington, D.C. in the Reagan administration, and the call really came to fruition there.
What did you do in the Reagan administration?
I was a speechwriter in the Treasury and the Education departments. My first boss was Donald Regan, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, from 1983 to 1984, and my second boss was Bill Bennett, the U.S. Education Secretary, from 1987 to 1988.
How did you end up in Washington D.C.?
It was a natural extension of my school interests at Dartmouth College. There were some friends of mine who had preceded me in the Reagan administration. It seemed like a good thing to me at the time. I worked there for five years. I enjoyed Washington very much, but I also thought the calling to the priesthood was sounding louder and louder.
What was it like being the late Cardinal Egan’s secretary when he was bishop of Bridgeport?
I compare it to having been in a doctoral course in the Church. He was a gifted administrator and a kind shepherd. That’s a good combination to have in a bishop.
What are your duties as vicar of development for the Diocese of Bridgeport?
I assist the bishop with development for charity and educational foundations.
When did you become a Legatus chaplain?
Just in the last year and a half. The bishop asked me if I would be the chaplain since I knew a number of people associated with Legatus.
What have been your impressions thus far of Legatus?
I think it’s wonderful for the couples because it involves the spiritual and the social, and it has nothing to do with fundraising or causes. It really gives the couples an evening to both reflect and think.
In the downtime you have, what hobbies do you enjoy?
I like to ski, and I enjoy exercising.
BRIAN FRAGA is Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant.