Funeral Mass celebrated for Fr. John Milewski

Bishop Stika presides at Our Lady of Perpetual Help-LaFollette service

Father John Milewski, a priest of the Diocese of Knoxville who went on to serve outside the diocese in chaplaincy for many years, died Tuesday, March 20. He was 68.

John Adolph Milewski was born the son of the late Dr. Edward W. Milewski and Lucille E. Kozlowski on Nov. 30, 1949, in Chicago. He was baptized at St. Stanislaus Kostka Church on Dec. 18, 1949.

He was ordained to the diaconate Nov. 29, 1992, at Notre Dame Church in Greeneville and was ordained to the priesthood May 15, 1993, at St. Dominic Church in Kingsport by Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell.

Father Milewski received a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy in 1971. He attended seminary at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wis., and received a master of divinity degree in 1993.

He served his first priestly assignments as associate pastor at Notre Dame Parish in Greeneville and Good Shepherd Parish in Newport before he was appointed administrator of Notre Dame in October 1994. In June 1995, he was appointed associate pastor of St. Mary in Oak Ridge. He was named pastor of St. Bridget in Dayton in August 1997.

In June 2001, Father Milewski was appointed pastor of St. Anthony of Padua in Mountain City and as a chaplain at the James H. Quillen Mountain Home VA Medical Center in Johnson City.

Father Milewski went on to serve as a priest chaplain under the Archdiocese for the Military Services for the Department of Veterans Affairs from June 2004 until his death. After leaving East Tennessee, he served as a fulltime clinical chaplain in Washington, D.C., where he was also lead chaplain for the Comprehensive Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. He served on a variety of interdisciplinary treatment teams that worked with 120 patients.

While in Washington, Father Milewski told The East Tennessee Catholic in 2005 that “the nice thing about being a chaplain is that there is no typical day.”

In the same interview, Father Milewski recalled following his father, Dr. Edward W. Milewski, on his hospital rounds as a youth.

“I was doing hospital rounds at the age of 5,” Father Milewski said.

He said he still recalled the bonds formed between doctor and patient in those days.

“When you’re working with people who are sick, there is a different kind of connection formed,” he said. “People form a proprietary interest in each other, and the commonality became that the patients were important not just to my dad but to our whole family. We’d visit them in the hospital, and then if they died, as a family we’d go to the wake.

“It wasn’t just disease-driven. There was a genuine sense of care going both ways from the doctor’s family to the patient’s and from the patient’s to the doctor’s family. That’s an old-fashioned model, and you don’t really find that anymore.”

Following his service in Washington, Father Milewski was assigned as chief of the Chaplain Service at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center in Ohio. This assignment involved oversight of a multi-campus hospital with 12 community-based outpatient clinics.

Father Milewski also was a Knight Commander in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre.

The receiving of friends took place Tuesday, April 3, at Walters Funeral Home in LaFollette. The funeral Mass was celebrated Wednesday, April 4, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in LaFollette.

Bishop Richard F. Stika presided, with Monsignor Bill Gahagan delivering the homily and Father Jim Harvey providing a reflection. Interment in Calvary Cemetery in Knoxville followed the funeral Mass.

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