Reverend Monsignor James Randolph Jones
Seventh Pastor of St. Mary
1970 – 1977
Msgr. James Randolph Jones was born on December 15, 1924 in Baltimore, MD to Water T. and Rachel A. Jones. Because his parents died at a young age, he and his brother and two sisters were raised by their aunt and uncle, Arthur J. and Clara Elizabeth Smith.
After attending St. Michael Catholic Elementary School, Jim went to the Josephinum Pontifical Minor Seminary in Worthington, OH for high school and some college. He finished his seminary education at St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore and was ordained to the diaconate there.
On December 8, 1951, James was ordained to the priesthood at Sacred Heart Cathedral by Bishop Waters. In 1974, Fr. Jones was named a “Monsignor” but always chose to call himself “Father Jones.” During his priesthood, Fr. Jones was noted for his great passion for Catholic education.
Before coming to St. Mary Parish, Fr. Jones had a wide variety of pastoral experiences. His first assignment was in a trailer ministry, traveling from community to community inviting people to listen to the Good News of Jesus. He also served as a priest at: Sacred Heart in Whiteville; St. John in North Wilkesboro; St. Leo in Winston-Salem; Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh; Holy Redeemer in Kill Devil Hills as the first resident pastor; St. Catherine of Siena in Wake Forest; Sacred Heart in Pinehurst; Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rocky Mount; Mother of Mercy in Washington (where he integrated a black and white communities); and St. Joseph in Asheboro.
Fr. Jones came to St. Mary as Pastor in 1970. At St. Mary, he had to cope with race riots. His biggest challenge, however, was fighting against the proposed boundaries of a new parish, St. Mark, which would have had a terrible effect on St. Mary Parish. Fr. Jones won, and this he saw as his greatest legacy to St. Mary Parish. In fact, that is what he would most like to be remembered for as Pastor of St. Mary.
In 1997, Msgr. Jones left St. Mary to serve at Annunciation Parish in Havelock and then St. Paul in New Bern. He retired in 1995 as Pastor Emeritus of St. Paul’s and died on June 12, 2008. His funeral Mass was held at St. Paul’s, and he was then buried at St. Joseph Cemetery on the campus of St. Paul Parish, New Bern.