Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville

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Diocese of Knoxville

Dioecesis Knoxvillensis
Sacred Heart Cathedral (Knoxville, TN) - exterior.jpg
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral
Coat of arms of the Diocese of Knoxville
Coat of arms
Country United States
TerritoryEast Tennessee
Ecclesiastical provinceLouisville
Area14,242 sq mi (36,890 km2)
- Total
- Catholics
(as of 2011)
63,000 (2.7%)
DenominationCatholic Church
RiteRoman Rite
EstablishedMay 27, 1988 (31 years ago)
CathedralCathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Current leadership
BishopRichard Stika Bishop of Knoxville
Metropolitan ArchbishopJoseph Edward Kurtz Archbishop of Louisville
Diocese of Knoxville map.PNG

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville (Latin: Dioecesis Knoxvillensis) is a Roman Catholic diocese in Tennessee. It was founded on May 27, 1988 from the eastern counties of the Diocese of Nashville. This diocese covers most of East Tennessee; in addition to the see city of Knoxville, it includes Chattanooga and Johnson City. The Mother Church is the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, located on Northshore Drive in Knoxville. The two oldest churches are Saints Peter and Paul Basilica Parish of Chattanooga and Immaculate Conception Parish of Knoxville, both founded in 1852.

As of 2007, there were an estimated 52,000 Catholics within the diocese, which covers approximately 14,000 square miles (36,000 km2).[1] The percentage of Catholic adherents within the diocese's borders constitutes the lowest among American dioceses.[2]


Bishops of Knoxville[edit]

The following is a list of bishops along with their dates of service:

  1. Anthony Joseph O'Connell (1988-1998), appointed Bishop of Palm Beach
  2. Joseph Edward Kurtz (1999-2007), appointed Archbishop of Louisville
  3. Richard Stika (2009–present)

Other priest of this diocese who became bishop[edit]


With a population of 60,000 Catholics, the diocese makes up about two percent of East Tennessee’s total population. The diocese is currently home to 47 parishes and four missions. These parishes are served by 54 diocesan priests, 16 religious priests, 8 extern priests, 24 deacons, 10 brothers, and 33 sisters. Eleven religious institutes are represented in the diocese.[3]

Perpetual adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament is available at many of the parishes and Masses are celebrated in a wide array of languages. This is chosen so that the spiritual needs of all parishioners are met. These languages include English, Spanish, Vietnamese, American Sign Language, and Latin.

With the influx of large numbers of Hispanic Catholics looking for work, the diocese faces many new challenges. If the estimates are correct and there are about 50,000 new Hispanic immigrants in the area, their number nearly doubles the area’s current official Catholic population. The clergy and laity of the diocese are working to welcome these new neighbors.[1]


High schools[edit]

Elementary schools[edit]

  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help School (web page) - Chattanooga, TN
  • Sacred Heart Cathedral School (web page) - Knoxville, TN
  • St. Dominic School (web page) - Kingsport, TN
  • St. John Neumann School (web page) - Knoxville, TN
  • St. Joseph School (web page) - Knoxville, TN
  • St. Jude School (web page) - Chattanooga, TN
  • St. Mary's School (web page) - Johnson City, TN
  • St. Mary's School (web page) - Oak Ridge, TN


Immaculate Conception Church (Knoxville, Tennessee)
Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
  • All Saints Church (web page) - Knoxville, TN
  • Blessed Sacrament Church - Harriman, TN
  • Christ the King Church - Tazewell, TN
  • Good Shepherd Church (web page) - Newport, TN
  • Holy Cross Church - Pigeon Forge, TN
  • Holy Family Church (web page) - Seymour, TN
  • Holy Ghost Church (web page ) - Knoxville, TN
  • Holy Spirit Catholic Church (web page) - Soddy-Daisy, TN
  • Holy Trinity Church - Jefferson City, TN
  • Immaculate Conception Church (web page ) - Knoxville, TN
  • John XXIII Catholic Center (web page ) - Knoxville, TN
  • Notre Dame Church (web page) - Greeneville, TN
  • Our Lady of Fatima Church (web page) - Alcoa, TN
  • Our Lady of Lourdes Church - South Pittsburg, TN
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church - Chattanooga, TN
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church - LaFollette, TN
  • Sacred Heart Cathedral (web page) - Knoxville, TN
  • Shepherd of the Valley Church - Dunlap, TN
  • St. Albert the Great Church - Knoxville, TN
  • St. Alphonsus Church - Crossville, TN
  • St. Ann Church - Lancing, TN
  • St. Anthony of Padua Church - Mountain City, TN
  • St. Augustine Church - Signal Mountain, TN
  • St. Bridget Church (web page) - Dayton, TN
  • St. Catherine Laboure Church - Copperhill, TN
  • St. Christopher Church - Jamestown, TN
  • St. Dominic Church - Kingsport, TN
  • St. Elizabeth Church - Elizabethton, TN
  • St. Francis of Assisi Church - Fairfield Glade, TN
  • St. Francis of Assisi Church - Townsend, TN
  • St. Henry Church - Rogersville, TN
  • St. James the Apostle Church - Sneedville, TN
  • St. John Neumann Church (web page) - Farragut, TN
  • St. Joseph Church - Norris, TN
  • St. Joseph the Worker Church - Madisonville, TN
  • St. Jude Church (web page) - Chattanooga, TN
  • St. Jude Church - Helenwood, TN
  • St. Mary Church (website) - Athens, TN
  • St. Mary Church - Gatlinburg, TN
  • St. Mary Church - Johnson City, TN
  • St. Mary Church - Oak Ridge, TN
  • St. Patrick Church - Morristown, TN
  • St. Stephen Church - Chattanooga, TN
  • St. Therese Church - Clinton, TN
  • St. Thérèse of Lisieux Church - Cleveland, TN
  • St. Thomas the Apostle Church - Lenoir City, TN
  • Sts. Peter and Paul Basilica (website)- Chattanooga, TN


While the Catholic Church has been a part of life in East Tennessee for over 166 years,[1] the Diocese of Knoxville was founded in 1988.[4] Before the creation, the area was part of the Diocese of Nashville.[4]

Because of his role in the creation of the Diocese, Nashville’s Bishop James Daniel Niedergeses, was known as the “Grandfather of the Diocese of Knoxville"[5]

Reports of Sex Abuse[edit]

On January 1, 2020, the Diocese settled a sex abuse lawsuit involving a man who claimed two priests in the Diocese sexually abused him as a child in the 1990s.[6][7][8][9] Those accused were Monsignor Francis Xavier Mankel and the Diocese of Knoxville's first Bishop Anthony O'Connell;[6][7] O'Connell previously confessed in 2002 to committing acts of sex abuse before he joined the Diocese of Knoxville as well.[10] The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.[6][7][9][8] Originally filed in the Knox County Circuit Court, both parties involved in the lawsuit agreed to instead settle the lawsuit out of court.[6][7][9][8] Despite denying any wrongdoing concerning the two accused priests, who are both dead, the Diocese agreed to settle due to the financial burden which would have grown by continuing the lawsuit.[6][7][9][8]


Coat of arms of Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville
CoA Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville.svg
Arms was designed and adopted when the diocese was erected. It was designed by Deacon Paul Sullivan.
The arms of the diocese are composed of a cross in gold (Or) at center with three small red (Gules) crosses on it. The background of the shield that shows behind the cross is divided quarterly into areas of red and blue (Azure). Mountains, a dogwood blossom, river and a railroad trestle are charged in there.
The central cross in gold (Or) is taken from the coat of arms of Pope John Paul II, who established the diocese. Three small red (Gules) crosses represent the three dioceses in the state of Tennessee. Charges in these quarters allude to natural features that dominate the landscape of East Tennessee: mountains, a dogwood blossom, and the Tennessee River. A railroad trestle in the bottom right quarter honors the Irish immigrants who brought the Catholic faith to the area, many of whom worked constructing railroads, especially trestles.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Diocese of Knoxville". 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-14.
  2. ^ "USA, Statistics by Diocese, by Percentage Catholic [Catholic-Hierarchy]".
  3. ^ "Diocese of Knoxville History". 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-14.
  4. ^ a b "Diocese of Knoxville History". 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-24.
  5. ^ "Diocese of Knoxville History 1987-1999". 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-24.
  6. ^ a b c d e
  7. ^ a b c d e
  8. ^ a b c d
  9. ^ a b c d
  10. ^ Ross, Brian; Schwartz, Rhonsa; Schecter, Anna (15 April 2008). "Victims: Pope Benedict Protects Accused Pedophile Bishops". ABC News. Retrieved 3 January 2020.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°58′22″N 83°56′32″W / 35.97278°N 83.94222°W / 35.97278; -83.94222