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Jeff Emitt

Jeff Emitt

Diocese of Knoxville seminarian Jeff Emitt passed away July 16 after a courageous battle against cancer. He was 61.

Mr. Emitt was a longtime member of Holy Ghost Church, where he had played guitar for Sunday evening Masses.

He was accepted into the seminary by Bishop Richard F. Stika in 2009 at age 57 after serving as a nurse for more than 15 years. He had been attending Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wis., in preparation for becoming a priest until his illness forced him to take a leave of absence from studies after more than three years in the seminary.

“Jeff was a humble and honest man who sought to serve the Lord and the Church. His faith was his foundation and it was a hard-fought faith,” said Father Michael Cummins, pastor of St. Dominic Church in Kingsport and director of vocations for the Diocese of Knoxville.

“I remember visiting him once at his family’s lake house while he was going through a round of chemo. We sat on the porch looking out over the lake and Jeff was disappointed and frustrated that he could not be at seminary. He turned to me and said, ‘But, I guess, this is my seminary right now.’ He never stopped learning and he never stopped seeking God in all things,” Father Cummins added.

Mr. Emitt’s family will receive friends from 6-7 p.m. July 18 at Lynnhurst Chapel of Berry Funeral Home, 2300 W. Adair Drive in Knoxville. A rosary will begin at 7 p.m.

The funeral Mass is set for 10 a.m. July 19 at Holy Ghost Church, 1041 N. Central Street in Knoxville. Bishop Richard F. Stika will be the Mass celebrant and Monsignor Xavier Mankel will be concelebrant of the Mass. Interment will follow in Calvary Cemetery.

Mr. Emitt is survived by his parents, Hal and Gloria Jeanne Emitt; brother, Hal Jr.; children, Haley and Andrew; and grandchild, Dezmond L. King.

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Deidre Merrill

Deidre Merrill

A parishioner at St. Mary Church in Oak Ridge will be converting her interest in a Catholic outreach program for college students into a fulltime stint as a collegiate missionary.

Deidre Merrill, a graduate of Maryville College, will begin the new school year as a FOCUS missionary at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, working with three other FOCUS missionaries there.

FOCUS, which is the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, has missionaries at 100 colleges across the United States, including at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. The mission of FOCUS is to work with college students to strengthen their faith through Bible study, apologetics, liturgy, and social activities.

Ms. Merrill, the daughter of Margaret Merrill, who is coordinator of youth ministry at St. Mary, will begin her mission work at Georgia Tech on Aug. 5. She has spent this summer raising funds for her mission work.

“I went to Maryville College. I didn’t have FOCUS at my school, but the University of Tennessee’s missionaries reached out to Maryville College and some of those students. That changed my life and that’s what brought me to FOCUS,” Ms. Merrill said.

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Diocesan News

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