Fr. Owens named vicar general, moderator of the curia

Pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish succeeds founding vicar general Msgr. Xavier Mankel

By Bill Brewer

Bishop Richard F. Stika has appointed Father Doug Owens, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Lenoir City, as the Diocese of Knoxville’s newest vicar general and moderator of the curia.

Father Owens succeeds the late Monsignor Xavier Mankel as one of two vicars general serving the diocese, joining Father David Boettner, rector of the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Father Boettner has served as moderator of the curia since March 2008.

Bishop Stika praised the work Father Boettner is doing as a leader of the diocese who is pastoring one of the diocese’s largest parishes and schools, is managing construction of the new cathedral, and will continue his many administrative duties with the Chancery and diocese.

The bishop said Father Owens will be a good addition to the diocesan leadership team in helping him, Father Boettner, and diocesan chancellor Deacon Sean Smith in fulfilling the ministry of the diocese.

Father Doug Owens, standing, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Lenoir City, addresses the Chancery staff after he was introduced July 21 by Bishop Richard F. Stika as the diocese’s newest vicar general and moderator of the curia.

In introducing Father Owens as vicar general on July 21 at the Chancery, Bishop Stika praised the service of Monsignor Mankel, who had served as a vicar general since the earliest days of the diocese. Monsignor Mankel died June 21 at the age of 81 after a long illness.

Bishop Stika said he was confident Father Owens will ably follow in the footsteps of Monsignor Mankel in helping lead the diocese in the many ways it serves God and the Catholic community of East Tennessee.

Father Owens, who will continue to serve as pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle, began his appointment on Aug. 1. His current appointment as dean of the Cumberland Mountain Deanery concluded July 31.

“Father Doug, you have faithfully served the Diocese of Knoxville for six years. You have been a trusted adviser to me for two years and you also have been a key member of my leadership councils. Your counsel and business experience are a blessing to the diocese, and I am grateful to you for your willingness to serve in this important leadership role. I look forward to working with you,” Bishop Stika said.

Father Owens is only the third vicar general to serve in the Diocese of Knoxville.

Monsignor Mankel was the diocese’s first vicar general and a founding priest of the diocese.

Father Owens was formally introduced to the Chancery staff July 21. During that meeting, he said he looked forward to his new role with the diocese and also looked forward to working with the Chancery staff to further the ministry of the diocese.

In addition to his pastoral responsibilities at St. Thomas, he will spend at least one day a week at the Chancery.

A vicar general is a principal deputy of the bishop of a diocese.

He exercises the bishop’s ordinary executive authority over the diocese and is the highest official in a diocese after the bishop.

As moderator of the curia, Father Owens will serve the bishop in coordinating administrative duties performed in the Chancery by its various departments that serve the diocese.

“I’m happy for the opportunity, and I look forward to working with the staff to continue to build the Church in East Tennessee,” Father Owens said.

In speaking to the Chancery staff, Father Owens was asked if he will be accompanied to the Chancery on occasion by his close companion, Tripp, a popular three-legged dog.

Father Owens assured the staff his dog will make appearances.

When asked how he plans to serve in his new diocesan roles, he replied “with two ears and one mouth,” noting the importance of listening.

Father Owens was ordained a priest on May 28, 2011, at Sacred Heart Cathedral by Bishop Stika.

Just prior to that, he entered the transitional diaconate in 2010 at his home parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chattanooga. During his diaconate, he served at St. Alphonsus Parish in Crossville.

A native of London, Ky., Father Owens studied for the priesthood at Conception Seminary in Missouri and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa.

A convert, he entered the Church at the Easter Vigil in 2004 after going through RCIA and then entered Conception Seminary in the fall of 2005. He was the 39th priest ordained in the Diocese of Knoxville.

He served as an associate priest at St. John Neumann Parish in Farragut from 2011 until he was named pastor of St. Thomas in June 2013.

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