Monsignor Mankel, Father Brando retiring as churches in all four deaneries to receive new pastoral leadership
New assignments for priests will have an impact on 17 Diocese of Knoxville parishes beginning July 1.
Monsignor Xavier Mankel, pastor of Holy Ghost Church and a vicar general for the diocese, will retire July 1 after 53 years of service.
Monsignor Mankel, 78, was ordained a priest in 1961, and has led churches in Lawrenceburg, Farragut and Knoxville. He also has served as a teacher and principal of Knoxville Catholic High School and as superintendent of Catholic schools in Knoxville.
Monsignor Mankel will continue serving as a vicar general and will be the diocese’s historical archivist.
Succeeding Monsignor Mankel as Holy Ghost pastor will be Father John Dowling, who has been serving as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Fairfield Glade. Father Dowling previously has been an associate pastor and parochial administrator of Holy Ghost.
Bishop Stika also announced that Father Joseph Brando, pastor of St. Mary Church in Gatlinburg, who has been serving the Church in East Tennessee for 42 years, is retiring July 1. Father Brando has served at churches in Nashville, Chattanooga, Madison, McEwen, and Knoxville, and also served as a U.S. Army chaplain.
Father Brando, 70, will be succeeded in Gatlinburg by Father Antony Punnackal, CMI, who has been serving as pastor of St. Alphonsus Church in Crossville.
Father David Carter has been named rector of the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Chattanooga, succeeding Monsignor George Schmidt, who retired in November and is pastor emeritus of the basilica. Father Carter has been serving as parochial administrator of the basilica since November.
Father Alberto Sescon has been appointed pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in Fairfield Glade. Father Sescon has been the pastor of St. Thérèse of Lisieux Church in Cleveland.
Father Joseph Thomas, CMI, has been named parochial vicar of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Father Thomas has been serving as parochial administrator of Holy Family Church in Seymour.
Father Gilbert Diaz, currently pastor of St. Stephen Church in Chattanooga, has been named pastor of Holy Family.
Father Manuel Pérez will become pastor of St. Stephen Church and will provide Hispanic ministry support to St. Thérèse of Lisieux Church. Father Pérez has been serving as associate pastor at St. Mary Church in Johnson City.
Father Jim Harvey, currently pastor of Notre Dame Church in Greeneville, will be pastor at St. Alphonsus Church in Crossville.
Father Dan Whitman has been named pastor of Notre Dame. He has been serving as pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Jefferson City.
Succeeding Father Whitman as pastor of Holy Trinity will be Father Patrick Resen, who now is pastor of St. Catherine Labouré Church in Copperhill.
Father Tom Moser, currently the associate pastor of St. Thérèse of Lisieux Church, will become pastor of St. Catherine Labouré on July 1.
Father Andres Cano-Ramirez, who has served as an associate pastor at St. Mary Church in Gatlinburg and Holy Cross Church in Pigeon Forge, has been named pastor of Holy Cross.
Father Mike Nolan, who serves as pastor of St. Dominic Church in Kingsport, has been named pastor of St. Thérèse of Lisieux Church.
Father Michael Cummins, who currently serves as chaplain at Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga and the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, will become pastor of St. Dominic.
Father Cummins will continue to serve as diocesan director of the Office of Vocations.
And Father Charlie Donahue, CSP, pastor of St. John XXIII University Parish and Catholic Center on the University of Tennessee campus, has accepted a new assignment from the Paulist Fathers and will leave the diocese in July.
Father Donahue will become Director of Formation for the Paulist Fathers and will be based in Washington, D.C. The Paulists have not yet named a replacement to succeed Father Donahue.
Four men ordained into the priesthood on May 31 at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus have been assigned by Bishop Stika to diocesan pastoral positions.
Father Colin Blatchford will serve as an associate pastor at All Saints Church in Knoxville.
Father Tony Budnick will continue to offer sacramental ministry at St. Albert the Great Church until joining Notre Dame High School as chaplain and on the faculty in August. He also will be part-time associate pastor at Sts. Peter and Paul Basilica in Chattanooga.
Father Julian Cardona will serve as associate pastor at St. Mary Church in Johnson City.
And Father Adam Kane will be an associate pastor at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Bishop Stika thanked each of the priests for their service to the Church and the parishes in which they serve and for their willingness to share their gifts with new parishes.
From staff reports
Bishop Richard F. Stika has announced several assignments for priests serving in the Diocese of Knoxville.
Father Alex Waraksa, currently associate pastor at St. Patrick Church in Morristown, will be in residence at Holy Trinity Parish in Jefferson City and will serve the Hispanic communities in the Five Rivers Deanery, including the parishes of St. Patrick, Notre Dame, Holy Trinity, Good Shepherd, and St. John Paul II Catholic Mission.
He also will be celebrating weekday Masses for the Handmaids of the Precious Blood at their convent in New Market.
Father Waraksa will begin his assignment on July 1.
“Father Waraksa, thank you for your service to the Hispanic communities in our diocese and your willingness to share your ministry throughout the Five Rivers Deanery. Be assured of my continued prayers for you,” Bishop Stika said.
Father Andres Cano, who serves as the primary bilingual substitute priest in the diocese, has been appointed chaplain to the Hispanic community of St. Alphonsus Church in Crossville.
Bishop Stika said Father Cano’s current assignment will remain in effect, but Father Cano began providing sacramental formation, hearing confessions, and celebrating the Mass in Spanish on Sundays at St. Alphonsus on May 20. Father Cano will reside at the rectory at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Alcoa.
Father Cano will serve as temporary parochial administrator for St. Alphonsus for eight weeks beginning July 22 when St. Alphonsus pastor Father Jim Harvey begins a medical leave of absence, during which time Father Cano will reside at the St. Alphonsus rectory.
“Father Cano, thank you for your willingness to serve in this new role,” Bishop Stika said.
Father Antonio Giraldo, who has served as part-time associate pastor at St. John Paul Catholic Mission in Rutledge and also has been an assisting priest in residence at Holy Trinity Church in Jefferson City, has been appointed parochial administrator of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Townsend.
Father Giraldo’s current assignment will conclude June 30, and he will begin his new assignment on July 1.
“Father Giraldo, thank you for your service to the faithful of St. John Paul II Catholic Mission and Holy Trinity Parish. Also, I am grateful to you for your willingness to now share your many gifts as parochial administrator of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Townsend,” Bishop Stika said. “Be assured of my continued prayers for you.”
Father Giraldo succeeds Father Jerry Daniels, who has been serving as parochial administrator at St. Francis. Father Daniels, a priest of the Diocese of Jackson, Miss., has relocated to the Mississippi-Louisiana area to serve as a retreat center chaplain.
Bishop Stika has named Father Scott Russell parochial administrator of St. Mary Parish in Athens, effective July 1.
Father Russell has served as chaplain of Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga and part-time parochial vicar of the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul.
He follows Father Randy Stice, who has served as pastor of St. Mary since 2013. Father Stice has accepted a three-year appointment to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C., where he will serve as associate director of the Secretariat of Divine Worship. Father Stice will continue as co-director of Worship and Liturgy for the diocese along with co-director Father Joe Reed, who is an associate pastor at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Father Russell’s assignment will begin July 1.
“Father Russell, thank you for your service to Notre Dame High School and the basilica. Also, I am grateful to you for your willingness to now share your many gifts as parochial administrator of St. Mary Church in Athens. Be assured of my continued prayers for you,” Bishop Stika said.
Father Christopher Floersh, the diocese’s newest priest who was ordained June 3 at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, has been assigned as chaplain of Notre Dame High School and part-time parochial vicar of St. Stephen Church in Chattanooga.
As a high school chaplain, Father Floersh will celebrate Mass and hear confessions each school day, be present in the Chaplain’s Office for student visits and counseling, be present in the school for evangelization and vocation promotion, and be a teacher of religion courses. He will be in residence at St. Stephen.
It is customary for priests in their first year of service after ordination to serve in a parochial administrative role.
Additionally, Bishop Stika said that Father Ray Powell, who is the parochial administrator at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in LaFollette, St. Jude Parish in Helenwood, and Christ the King Parish in Tazewell, has been appointed pastor of those parishes.
And Father Bartholomew Okere, parochial administrator of St. Henry Parish in Rogersville, also has been appointed pastor of St. Henry.
Bishop Stika announced that Father Tony Budnick, who has been serving as associate pastor of St. Albert the Great Parish in Knoxville and also as a teacher of broadcasting and speech at Knoxville Catholic High School, has taken a leave of absence.
Update 6/5: In addition to these assignments, Bishop Stika has appointed Father Christopher Floersh as chaplain of the Serra Club of Chattanooga and Father Scott Russell as chaplain for the Christ Prince of Peace Retreat Center in Benton.