Funeral Mass held for diocesan seminarian Jeff Emitt

Diocese of Knoxville seminarian Jeff Emitt died July 16 after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 61.

Mr. Emitt was a longtime member of Holy Ghost Church, where he had played guitar for Sunday evening Masses. He also was a fourth-degree Knight of Columbus prior to joining the seminary.

He entered the seminary in 2010 at age 57 after serving as a registered 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.

Bishop Richard F. Stika celebrated the funeral Mass for Mr. Emitt July 19 at Holy Ghost Church in Knoxville, with Monsignor Xavier Mankel and a number of diocesan priests concelebrating. Interment was in Calvary Cemetery.

A number of deacons also were present as was a Knights of Columbus honor guard.

During his homily, Bishop Stika said Mr. Emitt was a very down-to-earth man with many talents who endured pain and suffering with his illness, humbly offering them in redemptive suffering for the Church and its people.

Mr. Emitt’s family received friends July 18 at Lynnhurst Chapel of Berry Funeral Home in Knoxville, with a rosary following led by Monsignor Mankel.

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

“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.