Shawn McKnight

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W. Shawn McKnight
Bishop of Jefferson City
ArchdioceseSt. Louis
DioceseJefferson City
AppointedNovember 21, 2017
InstalledFebruary 6, 2018
PredecessorJohn R. Gaydos
OrdinationMay 28, 1994
ConsecrationFebruary 6, 2018
by Robert James Carlson, John R. Gaydos, and Carl A. Kemme
Personal details
Birth nameWilliam Shawn McKnight
Born (1968-06-26) June 26, 1968 (age 50)
Wichita, Kansas
MottoGRATIAS AGAMUS DOMINO (Let us give thanks to the Lord our God)
Styles of
Shawn McKnight
Coat of arms of Shawn McKnight.svg
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleBishop

William Shawn McKnight[1] (born June 26, 1968) is the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City.

Early life[edit]

William Shawn McKnight was born June 26, 1968 and grew up in a large Catholic family.[2] McKnight’s father, also named William McKnight, was killed in a boating accident along with his grandfather and uncle. William Shawn McKnight was 18 months old at the time of the accident. His mother, Mary, married Gary Schaeffer and they had 7 children, one girl and six boys. Four of McKnight’s brothers served in the U.S. military, and he was an Air Force chaplain during the summer of his deacon year.[3]

Episcopal Succession[edit]

McKnight earned a degree in biochemistry from the University of Dallas in 1990.[4] He entered the seminary and completed his ecclesiastical studies in 1994.[5] He has a master of arts degree in theology and a master's in divinity from the Pontifical College Josephinum Seminary in Columbus, Ohio.[6] He attended the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm in Rome where he specialized in sacramental theology and earned a licentiate in 1999 and a doctorate in sacred theology in 2001.[6][5][4]

McKnight was ordained a priest on May 28, 1994 for the Diocese of Wichita. From 1994 to 1997 he was the parish vicar at Blessed Sacrament in Wichita. In 1999, he was the parish administrator for Saint Patrick Parish in Chanute, Kansas. At Newman University, he was the chaplain and adjunct professor in 2000 and 2001 which overlapped with his time as pastor of Saint Mark the Evangelist parish in Colwich, Kansas from 2000 to 2003. From 2000 to 2005 he served as diocesan director of divine worship, diocesan consultor and member of the presbyteral council. He returned to the Josephinum as the director of liturgy from 2003 to 2007, assistant professor from 2003 to 2008, dean of students from 2004 to 2006, director of formation from 2006 to 2007 and vice-president for development and alumni relations from 2007 to 2008. McKnight was pastor at Blessed Sacrament in Wichita from 2008 to 2010.[5]

From 2010 until 2015, McKnight served in the USCCB’s Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.[7] This position provides leadership and guidance to priests in their ministry, assists the Bishops’ Committee on Child and Youth Protection, and addresses priesthood concerns with the public.[7]

After completing his term at the USCCB, McKnight was appointed pastor of the Church of the Magdalen in Wichita. He served as pastor from 2015 to 2018.

Pope Francis appointed McKnight bishop of the Diocese of Jefferson City on November 21, 2017.[8][9] McKnight was the fifth bishop to come from the Diocese of Wichita since 1998. He was consecrated on February 6, 2018. The Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City has 81,000 Catholics, 95 parishes and 15 missions.[10]

Science in the Seminary[edit]

Bishop McKnight is part of the planning team for a project funded by the John Templeton Foundation at John Carroll University to re-engage science in the seminary. The team states their efforts will “allow Roman Catholic seminarians and clergy to engage the bigger questions of science that are naturally a part of theological inquiry and pertinent to contemporary Christians who live in a world deeply influenced, if not dominated, by science and technology.”[11]

Diaconate Knowledge: Author, Teacher, Speaker[edit]

McKnight wrote a dissertation on the permanent diaconate under the guidance of Father James Puglisi, a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement and the director of the Ecumenical Center in Rome studying sacramental theology. The Deacon Reader and The Newman Review have published some of McKnight’s diaconate writings. The NADD, the National Diaconate Institute for Continuing Education and other diaconate programs have invited McKnight to be a speaker at their gatherings.[3]

In 2005, McKnight taught a class at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio called “The Latin Rite Deacon”. St. Meinrad Permanent Deacon Formation Program in Indiana had a class called “Theology of the Deacon” instructed by McKnight from 2005 to 2010.[3]

He is the author of Understanding the Diaconate.[12] The book is published by the Catholic University of America Press and states, “Understanding the diaconate adds the resources of sociology and anthropology to the theological sources of scripture, liturgy, patristic era texts, theologians, and magisterial teachings to conclude that the deacon can be understood as "social intermediary and symbol of communities" who serves the participation of the laity in the life and mission of the Church. This research proposes the deacon as a servant of the bond of communion within the Church (facilitating the relationship between the bishop or priest and his people), and between the People of God and the individual in need.”[13]


  1. ^ "Resignations and Appointments, 21.11.2017". Holy See Press Office. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
  2. ^ Makar, A. B.; McMartin, K. E.; Palese, M.; Tephly, T. R. (June 1975). "Formate assay in body fluids: application in methanol poisoning". Biochemical Medicine. 13 (2): 117–126. ISSN 0006-2944. PMID 1.
  3. ^ a b c Bose, K. S.; Sarma, R. H. (1975-10-27). "Delineation of the intimate details of the backbone conformation of pyridine nucleotide coenzymes in aqueous solution". Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 66 (4): 1173–1179. ISSN 1090-2104. PMID 2.
  4. ^ a b Spinella, Sten. "William Shawn McKnight officially ordained Jefferson City's new bishop". Columbia Missourian. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  5. ^ a b c "US: Pope Appoints Two New Bishops - ZENIT - English". ZENIT - English. 2017-11-21. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  6. ^ a b "Re-engaging Science and Theology in Seminary Education – W. Shawn McKnight, S.T.D." Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  7. ^ a b Author. "Fr. Shawn McKnight named head of USCCB's Secretariat for Clergy". Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  8. ^ "Pope Francis Names New Bishop of the Diocese of Nashville; Pope Francis also Names New Bishop of Jefferson City". Retrieved November 21, 2017.
  9. ^ "Pope Names New Bishop For Jefferson City Diocese". Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City (Press release). Retrieved November 21, 2017.
  10. ^ "Priest will be 5th bishop from Wichita since 1998". kansas. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  11. ^ "About". Science and Faith in Seminary Formation. Retrieved 2018-05-17.
  12. ^ Understanding the Diaconate: Historical, Theological, and Sociological Foundations (Washington DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2018) ISBN 978-08132-3036-8
  13. ^ Smith, R. J.; Bryant, R. G. (1975-10-27). "Metal substitutions incarbonic anhydrase: a halide ion probe study". Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 66 (4): 1281–1286. ISSN 0006-291X. PMID 3.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John R. Gaydos
Bishop of Jefferson City
Succeeded by