Bishop Michael Jarrell was born on May 15, 1940, in Opelousas, LA, one of four children of the late William Jarrell Sr., and the late Jessie Rosa Barnett Jarrell.
Following elementary and high school studies in his home town, Bishop Jarrell spent two years at Immaculata Minor Seminary in Lafayette before going to Washington, D.C., to study at Catholic University of America. There he earned a B.A. in philosophy in 1962 and an M.A. in philosophy in 1963.
He was ordained to the subdiaconate and the diaconate in June of 1966 by the late Auxiliary Bishop Warren L. Boudreaux of Lafayette. On June 3, 1967, he was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by Bishop Maurice Schexnayder at the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist in Lafayette.
Bishop Jarrell served as a member of the faculty of Landry High School (now St. Louis High School) in Lake Charles, LA, from 1967 to 1972. He was named associate pastor at St. Michael Church in Crowley, LA, where he was stationed from 1972-76. He assumed his first pastorate at Sacred Heart Church in Broussard, LA, serving there from 1976 to 1984. He served as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Ville Platte, LA, from 1984 to 1993.
In his native diocese, Bishop Jarrell has served as regional vicar of three deaneries, as diocesan consultor and as chairman of the Clergy Continuing Education Committee.
Pope John Paul II named him a prelate of honor with the title of monsignor in 1988.
Bishop Jarrell was ordained to the episcopacy and installed as second bishop of Houma-Thibodaux on March 4, 1993. Bishop Jarrell was appointed the sixth Bishop of Lafayette on November 8, 2002 and was installed on December 18, 2002 in the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist in Lafayette, LA.
Bishop Jarrell is a member of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, Secretary of the Louisiana Catholic Conference of Bishops, Chair of the Formation Committee of Saint Joseph Seminary College in Covington and serves on the Formations Programs Committee and Strategic Plan Committee of Notre Dame Seminary. He has also been active in the Louisiana Interchurch Conference and has served as President for several years.
Bishop Jarrell is a member of the Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree, Knights of Peter Claver and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
For his personal coat of arms, His Excellency, Bishop Jarrell has retained the arms that he adopted at the time that he was selected to become a bishop in 1993 when he was ordained to be the Bishop of Houma-Thibodeaux. These arms are composed of a silver (white) field on which is displayed a cross that looks like a sword and is called a “cross fleuretty fitcheé.” The cross in the form of a sword is used to honor St. Michael, the Archangel and warrior and the baptismal patron of Bishop Jarrell. The ends of the cross are in the form of a fleur-de-lis to honor the Bishop’s French (Cajun) heritage. At the bottom of the cross is a spring of cotton, called “Proper”, or “as it appears in nature,” to honor the cotton industry which is so important to south Louisiana and in which the Bishop’s family were engaged in business. At the bottom of the Bishop’s personal arms are two wavy blue bars, used to represent water which, again, is so important to south Louisiana for sport and the commercial fishing trades.
For his motto, His Excellency, Bishop Jarrell has retained the phrase “In Omnibus Caritas,” which is Latin for “In All Things Charity”. This phrase, which was popularized by Pope Blessed John XXIII at the time of the Second Vatican Council, expresses that for all of us, as followers of Christ, we must have in our hearts and in everything that we do, we must do it all with love and charity.
The device is completed with the external ornaments which are the processional cross, which is placed in back of the shield, and a pontifical hat, called a “gallero”, with its six tassels, in three rows, on either side of the shield, all in green. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of bishop by instruction of The Holy See of March 31, 1969.