Retirements, pastoral moves to take place at more than a dozen churches on July 1
By Bill Brewer
Bishop Richard F. Stika has announced pastoral assignments that will take effect July 1 for several Diocese of Knoxville parishes. Included in the upcoming moves are the retirements of Monsignor Patrick Garrity and Father Mike Creson.
Monsignor Garrity, who has served as pastor of St. John Neumann parish in Farragut since Feb. 1, 2010, is retiring from full-time priestly ministry but will continue to serve the diocese as vicar for priests, chairman of the Clergy Materials Concern Committee, and a member of the Priest Benefit and Trust Board.
Additionally, Bishop Stika has appointed Monsignor Garrity as chaplain of the Knoxville-area Serra Club.
Ordained a priest of the Diocese of Nashville in 1976 by Bishop James D. Niedergeses, Father Garrity’s first assignment was as a teacher at Father Ryan High School and associate pastor of St. Edward Parish in Nashville.
After three years in Nashville, he moved to Chattanooga, where he served as spiritual director at Notre Dame High School until 1985. Between 1979 and 1985, he also held positions as associate pastor at several Chattanooga parishes and as director of the Catholic Youth Office for the Chattanooga Deanery. From 1981-1985 he was pastor of St. Bridget Parish in Dayton.
In 1985, Father Garrity moved to Knoxville, where he was named principal of Knoxville Catholic High School and pastor of Holy Family Parish in Seymour. Father Garrity stepped down as Knoxville Catholic High School principal in 1997 to return to full-time pastoral work and was named pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Morristown and Holy Trinity Parish in Jefferson City.
In 2011, Bishop Stika announced that Father Garrity had been elevated to monsignor, a papal honor bestowed on Monsignor Garrity by Pope Benedict XVI.
Monsignor Garrity, 69, a native of Wichita, Kan., also has chaired the diocesan Presbyteral Council, served as dean of the Five Rivers and Cumberland Mountain deaneries, and was elected to the National Federation of Priests’ Councils.
Succeeding Monsignor Garrity at St. John Neumann will be Father Joe Reed, who currently serves as associate pastor of the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Father Reed, a Knoxville native who grew up in Sacred Heart Parish, has served as an associate priest at the cathedral since June 2013. He also is chaplain of Sacred Heart Cathedral School. He was officially received into the Diocese of Knoxville as a diocesan priest in May 2015.
While in seminary at Conception Seminary College, he entered Conception Abbey in Conception, Mo. He was a Benedictine Brother for 10 years before being ordained to the priesthood and taught in the seminary college. He also received graduate degrees from St. John’s University and St. Vincent Seminary.
He was ordained into the priesthood in May 2007.
In addition, Father Reed serves as director of vocations for the diocese, assisting Bishop Stika in fostering the formation of men who are preparing for the priesthood.
Father Mike Creson, who has served as associate pastor of St. Thérèse of Lisieux Parish in Cleveland since July 2016, also will retire from full-time priestly ministry. However, he will continue to serve as sacramental minister to Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga and will assist as needed at St. Thérèse and Notre Dame High School.
Father Creson, who is a native of Sherwood, Tenn., and attended school in Franklin County as well as Tennessee Tech and the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Nashville in January 1987 at Good Shepherd Church in Winchester by Bishop Niedergeses.
He served as an associate pastor at Notre Dame Parish in Greeneville, Good Shepherd Parish in Newport, and St. Dominic Parish in Kingsport as well as director of campus ministry at East Tennessee State University.
In 1992, he was appointed pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Norris, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in LaFollette, and Christ the King Parish in Tazewell. In 1996, he was assigned as pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in South Pittsburg and the Virgin of the Poor Shrine in New Hope.
While in South Pittsburg, he was charged with re-establishing a Catholic community in Sequatchie County, and in February 1997, the Shepherd of the Valley Catholic community celebrated its first Mass since the 1950s in Dunlap.
In addition to being the founding pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Parish, he founded Holy Spirit Parish in Soddy-Daisy while serving at St. Jude Parish in Chattanooga. He was appointed associate pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Chattanooga in 2010 before returning to Campbell and Claiborne counties in 2015 when Bishop Stika named him pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in LaFollette and Christ the King.
Father Creson also has served as dean of the Chattanooga Deanery, as director of the Catholic Center at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, and as diocesan coordinator of vocation promotion and ministry to the deaf.
Father Michael Woods, who has served as pastor of All Saints Parish in Knoxville – the diocese’s largest parish – since 2006, has been named pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Fairfield Glade.
Father Woods, 75, who had requested a transfer to a smaller parish, was ordained as a priest for the Archdiocese of Atlanta in June 1966. He was named associate pastor of St. Mary Parish in Oak Ridge in February 1994. He was then named pastor of St. Mary in September 1996.
Father Doug Owens, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Lenoir City, has been named pastor of All Saints.
Father Owens, who has served at St. Thomas since July 2013, was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Stika in May 2011. Before joining St. Thomas, he served as associate pastor at St. John Neumann from July 2011 to June 2013.
Father Owens also serves the diocese as a vicar general and moderator of the curia.
Father Ray Powell will succeed Father Owens as pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle. Father Powell has been serving as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in LaFollette, Christ the King, and St. Jude Parish in Helenwood since July 2017.
Father Powell, who was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Stika in June 2015, also has served as associate pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chattanooga.
Father Alberto Sescon, who has been serving as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in Fairfield Glade since July 2014, will serve as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in LaFollette, St. Jude in Helenwood, and Christ the King.
Father Sescon is familiar with Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Christ the King. He has served as a substitute priest at those parishes in recent years. He has been a priest of the Archdiocese of Cebu in the Philippines and has served in the United States for many years. Previously, he was parochial administrator and pastor of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, a chaplain at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, and he has celebrated Mass for the Filipino Catholic community at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Father John Orr has been appointed pastor of St. Mary Parish in Athens, where Father Jim Haley, CSP, has been serving on a temporary basis as parochial administrator.
Father Orr has been serving as pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Madisonville since July 2016. Prior to that he served as pastor of St. Therese Parish in Clinton and associate pastor of Holy Ghost Parish in Knoxville. At St. Joseph the Worker, St. Therese, and Holy Ghost, Father Orr has offered Masses in the extraordinary form [the “traditional Latin Mass”] in addition to the standard Roman Rite Mass.
Father Orr, who earned his Ph.D. in 2014 from the Maryvale Institute in the United Kingdom and who also previously served as spiritual director at Knoxville Catholic High School, was ordained into the priesthood in 2001 by then-Bishop Joseph E. Kurtz.
Father Julius Abuh will be the next pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Parish. Father Abuh goes to Madisonville from St. Therese Parish in Clinton and St. Joseph Parish in Norris, where has served as parochial administrator and now as pastor of those parishes.
Originally from the Diocese of Idah in Nigeria, Father Abuh has been in the United States since 2011. He received his Ph.D. in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. Before serving in Clinton and Norris, Father Abuh was a priest in residence at St. John Neumann in Farragut.
Father Richard Armstrong has been appointed parochial administrator of St. Therese and St. Joseph.
Father Armstrong, who serves the Diocese of Knoxville as the assistant director of Christian Formation, also is a priest of the Byzantine Catholic Church and is pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Eastern (Byzantine) Catholic Mission in Knoxville.
Father Armstrong was ordained into the priesthood in May 2009 at St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Parma, Ohio, by Bishop Robert M. Moskal.
Father Ron Stone, who has been serving as parochial administrator of Holy Cross, has been appointed pastor of the Pigeon Forge parish.
Father Stone has been in the Diocese of Knoxville since 2014, serving with the Handmaids of the Precious Blood and at St. Jude in Helenwood.
Mark Schuster, who was ordained to the transitional diaconate on June 2 at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, has been assigned to provide diaconal service for the summer at St. John Neumann Church.