Bishop W. Shawn McKnight has appointed Father Stephen Jones as director of stewardship for the Diocese of Jefferson City, a new position that will provide support to the 95 parishes in the diocese.
Kenya Fuemmeler, principal of Helias Catholic High School and interim diocesan superintendent of Catholic schools, will succeed him as president of Helias Catholic while continuing to serve as principal.
Both appointments will take effect July 1, 2020.
Fr. Jones has been serving as president of Helias Catholic High School since 2013 and as administrator of St. Martin parish in St. Martins since May 1, 2019.
He will continue in both of those roles until June 30.
He will then function in a role that is essential for bringing to fruition Bishop McKnight’s plan for renewal throughout the Jefferson City diocese.
“As director of stewardship, Fr. Jones will assist me with promoting the Catholic vision of stewardship to all our parishes,” Bishop McKnight stated.
This vision of stewardship is not principally oriented toward fundraising, but a spirituality of discipleship.
“Stewardship is the response of a grateful Christian disciple, who recognizes that all good things come from God,” Bishop McKnight explained. “Intentionally committing some of our time, talent and treasure for the mission of the Church is an expression of our need to give back to God rather than our giving to a need.”
The Office of Stewardship is a new function for the Jefferson City diocese; it will provide resources and services to the diocese’s parishes and institutions as they implement a stewardship model.
“My work will entail traveling around the diocese, working with our pastors, preaching, teaching, relationship-building and mentoring,” said Fr. Jones. “These are all things I am excited to do in supporting a vision and mission I believe to be true.”
Parishioners will be asked to reflect on their gifts and talents and determine how they can use their resources — including a financial tithe — to serve their family, their parish and their community.
“I am passionate about Bishop McKnight’s vision for the future of our diocese in this area and am thankful for his trust in me to take on this role as we seek to live out the evangelizing mission of the Church,” said Fr. Jones.
A new administrator will be appointed to St. Martin parish before July 1.
Expanded role for Fuemmeler
Bishop McKnight appointed Ms. Fuemmeler president and principal of Helias Catholic upon the unanimous recommendation of the Helias Board of Directors after consultation with the Helias Advisory Council.
He called to mind her experience and success at Helias Catholic, in other schools and in the diocese’s Catholic School Office; her strong Catholic faith; and her appreciation of her own Catholic education.
“Assisting parents in educating and forming young people in the faith is a sacred task entrusted to us by God,” stated Bishop McKnight. “Ms. Fuemmeler has a proven record of servant-leadership both at Helias Catholic and in her interim role as superintendent of our diocesan Catholic schools. I have every confidence that with God’s help, she will continue to lead successfully in her new, expanded role at Helias.”
Ms. Fuemmeler became principal at Helias Catholic in July 2015 and has been serving concurrently as interim diocesan superintendent of schools since July 2019.
She attended St. Joseph parish elementary school in Salisbury and graduated from Salisbury High School.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and a master of education degree from the University of Missouri.
She worked in the former Wellston School District near St. Louis from 2007-09, teaching social studies under the Teach for America program and serving as head coach of the track team.
For the 2009-10 school year, she was a learning specialist for the athletic department of the University of Oklahoma while a graduate assistant there.
From August 2010 to May 2013, she taught at Moberly High School and served as head coach of the girls’ softball team and assistant coach of the track team.
She served as principal for the 2013-14 school year at Scotland County R-1 Junior/Senior High School in Memphis, Missouri.
Ms. Fuemmeler said she’s honored and excited about the opportunity to lead Helias Catholic into its next generation of excellence and to help to shape its ongoing legacy.
She is grateful to Fr. Jones for hiring her as principal and for his help and cooperation throughout her first five years in the school’s administration.
She remains committed to carrying-forward the mission of faith-driven excellence at Helias Catholic while ensuring its availability to even more people.
“Many great things”
Fr. Jones holds bachelor’s degrees in history and theology and master’s degrees in divinity and sacred theology.
He was ordained in 2012 as a Catholic priest under the “Pastoral Provision” established by Pope St. John Paul II in 1983 as a means for former ministers of Protestant denominations to seek ordination as Catholic priests.
Fr. Jones served as a minister of the Episcopal Church for 10 years before entering the Catholic Church with his wife and children in 2010.
His own family’s journey toward Catholic Christianity was itself an example of giving back to God without reserve or expectation.
Although Fr. Jones felt called to be a priest and to be Catholic, he did not know when he made his decision whether he would be able to serve as a priest of the Roman Catholic Church.
“It’s in God’s hands,” he told The Catholic Missourian 2010. “If it’s not to be, I am content to serve the Lord as a Catholic layman. As it is, I am very grateful to God for leading me here.”
Bishop McKnight said he’s looking forward to working with Fr. Jones and Ms. Fuemmeler in their new roles in service to our local diocese.
“Their leadership and vision are a great blessing!” he stated.
While Fr. Jones will continue to assist with sacramental and pastoral ministry at Helias Catholic through the end of this academic year, other priests will be appointed to the school for the upcoming school year.
There is not expected to be any impact on the Mass schedule or other clergy support available to the Helias students, faculty and staff.
Fr. Jones has found these past eight years at Helias Catholic — seven as president — to be a time of great joy and fulfillment.
“I have been privileged to lead and work with an amazing group of students, teachers, staff and administrators to help the school live out its mission and vision,” he stated. “I am more than confident that Ms. Fuemmeler will take our school to new heights while moving the school forward in a positive direction.”
He acknowledged that leaving Helias, especially now that two of his children are students there, will be tough, “but the greater good takes precedence.”
“I’m passionate about what the bishop needs me to do in the diocese,” he stated, “and I think I have some skills and talents to help him accomplish that. And I have a great willingness to serve, to try to help build our diocese, help strengthen our diocese and help lead people toward becoming the saints God created us to be.”
He said an important part of discipleship involves “being good stewards who give back from God’s great gifts to us.”
Fr. Jones asks for prayers for inspiration and success in his new position, for the diocese, for open hearts for pastors, and for the people “to be willing to explore the possibility of a deeper commitment to their faith, which will affect every aspect of their lives.”