From staff reports
Bishop Richard F. Stika has announced several assignments for priests serving in the Diocese of Knoxville.
Father Alex Waraksa, currently associate pastor at St. Patrick Church in Morristown, will be in residence at Holy Trinity Parish in Jefferson City and will serve the Hispanic communities in the Five Rivers Deanery, including the parishes of St. Patrick, Notre Dame, Holy Trinity, Good Shepherd, and St. John Paul II Catholic Mission.
He also will be celebrating weekday Masses for the Handmaids of the Precious Blood at their convent in New Market.
Father Waraksa will begin his assignment on July 1.
“Father Waraksa, thank you for your service to the Hispanic communities in our diocese and your willingness to share your ministry throughout the Five Rivers Deanery. Be assured of my continued prayers for you,” Bishop Stika said.
Father Andres Cano, who serves as the primary bilingual substitute priest in the diocese, has been appointed chaplain to the Hispanic community of St. Alphonsus Church in Crossville.
Bishop Stika said Father Cano’s current assignment will remain in effect, but Father Cano began providing sacramental formation, hearing confessions, and celebrating the Mass in Spanish on Sundays at St. Alphonsus on May 20. Father Cano will reside at the rectory at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Alcoa.
Father Cano will serve as temporary parochial administrator for St. Alphonsus for eight weeks beginning July 22 when St. Alphonsus pastor Father Jim Harvey begins a medical leave of absence, during which time Father Cano will reside at the St. Alphonsus rectory.
“Father Cano, thank you for your willingness to serve in this new role,” Bishop Stika said.
Father Antonio Giraldo, who has served as part-time associate pastor at St. John Paul Catholic Mission in Rutledge and also has been an assisting priest in residence at Holy Trinity Church in Jefferson City, has been appointed parochial administrator of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Townsend.
Father Giraldo’s current assignment will conclude June 30, and he will begin his new assignment on July 1.
“Father Giraldo, thank you for your service to the faithful of St. John Paul II Catholic Mission and Holy Trinity Parish. Also, I am grateful to you for your willingness to now share your many gifts as parochial administrator of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Townsend,” Bishop Stika said. “Be assured of my continued prayers for you.”
Father Giraldo succeeds Father Jerry Daniels, who has been serving as parochial administrator at St. Francis. Father Daniels, a priest of the Diocese of Jackson, Miss., has relocated to the Mississippi-Louisiana area to serve as a retreat center chaplain.
Bishop Stika has named Father Scott Russell parochial administrator of St. Mary Parish in Athens, effective July 1.
Father Russell has served as chaplain of Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga and part-time parochial vicar of the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul.
He follows Father Randy Stice, who has served as pastor of St. Mary since 2013. Father Stice has accepted a three-year appointment to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C., where he will serve as associate director of the Secretariat of Divine Worship. Father Stice will continue as co-director of Worship and Liturgy for the diocese along with co-director Father Joe Reed, who is an associate pastor at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Father Russell’s assignment will begin July 1.
“Father Russell, thank you for your service to Notre Dame High School and the basilica. Also, I am grateful to you for your willingness to now share your many gifts as parochial administrator of St. Mary Church in Athens. Be assured of my continued prayers for you,” Bishop Stika said.
Father Christopher Floersh, the diocese’s newest priest who was ordained June 3 at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, has been assigned as chaplain of Notre Dame High School and part-time parochial vicar of St. Stephen Church in Chattanooga.
As a high school chaplain, Father Floersh will celebrate Mass and hear confessions each school day, be present in the Chaplain’s Office for student visits and counseling, be present in the school for evangelization and vocation promotion, and be a teacher of religion courses. He will be in residence at St. Stephen.
It is customary for priests in their first year of service after ordination to serve in a parochial administrative role.
Additionally, Bishop Stika said that Father Ray Powell, who is the parochial administrator at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in LaFollette, St. Jude Parish in Helenwood, and Christ the King Parish in Tazewell, has been appointed pastor of those parishes.
And Father Bartholomew Okere, parochial administrator of St. Henry Parish in Rogersville, also has been appointed pastor of St. Henry.
Bishop Stika announced that Father Tony Budnick, who has been serving as associate pastor of St. Albert the Great Parish in Knoxville and also as a teacher of broadcasting and speech at Knoxville Catholic High School, has taken a leave of absence.
Update 6/5: In addition to these assignments, Bishop Stika has appointed Father Christopher Floersh as chaplain of the Serra Club of Chattanooga and Father Scott Russell as chaplain for the Christ Prince of Peace Retreat Center in Benton.