By Jim Wogan
The Bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville is already reaching across the state of Tennessee to welcome the new leader of the Catholic Church in Memphis.
“I look forward to working with him on issues that affect our province and our state,” Bishop Richard F. Stika said shortly after it was announced that Bishop Martin D. Holley will be installed as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Memphis.
The appointment was announced by the Vatican on Aug. 23.
Bishop Stika offered Bishop Holley congratulations from him, and also from Cardinal Justin Rigali, who resides in the Diocese of Knoxville and at one time served as archbishop of St. Louis and Philadelphia.
Bishop Holley will succeed Bishop J. Terry Steib, SVD, who is 76. The standard retirement age for bishops is 75. Bishop Holley’s installation will be October 19 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.
Bishop Steib has served the Diocese of Memphis since 1993 and recently asked the Vatican to approve his request for retirement.
Bishop Stika and Bishop Steib have a long history together.
“I have known Bishop Terry Steib since our days together in St. Louis. I like to remind him that I served as the acolyte at his episcopal ordination in St. Louis. I have the utmost respect and love for him,” Bishop Stika said.
Bishop Holley, 61, was born in Pensacola, Fla. The eighth of 14 children, he attended Catholic elementary schools, was captain of the basketball team at Tate High School, and is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame. He also attended Faulkner State Junior College in Bay Minette, Ala., and Alabama State University in Montgomery, Ala.
He received a bachelor of science degree in 1977.
He was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Pensacola- Tallahassee in 1987.
Bishop Holley was named an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington D.C., by Pope St. John Paul II. His episcopal ordination was on July 2, 2004, at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C. Tennessee’s trio of bishops — Bishop Stika, Bishop David Choby (of Nashville), and Bishop Steib — have worked together for years on issues that impact the Catholic Church in Tennessee and beyond.
Bishop Stika is looking forward to continuing that work with Bishop Holley.
“He is a friendly and confident bishop who has served the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., well,” Bishop Stika said. “I have no doubt that with his wonderful smile and warm heart he will do the same in Memphis.”