Funeral Mass celebrated for Fr. Michael Jennings

Diocese of Knoxville priest served several parishes from 1986-2013

By Dan McWilliams

Father Michael Jennings, who served for many years as pastor of Blessed Sacrament in Harriman and St. Henry in Rogersville, died Friday, Jan. 25, in Rogersville. He was 76.

Michael Thomas Jennings was born Nov. 3, 1942, in Bryn Mawr, Pa. He graduated from Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., in 1961, and St. Mary’s College in St. Mary, Ky., in 1965. Following his formation at The Catholic University of America, he was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Patrick A. O’Boyle on May 17, 1969, at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, for the Archdiocese of Washington.

Father Jennings served in various assignments in the Archdiocese of Washington from 1969 until he moved to Harriman in 1986. He was appointed pastor of Blessed Sacrament, St. Ann in Lancing, and St. Thomas the Apostle in Lenoir City in August 1986 and served the faithful there until September 1997.

During this same time, he served as chaplain at the prison in Wartburg, known then as Morgan County Regional Correctional Facility.

Father Jennings was then appointed pastor of St. Henry and St. James the Apostle Parish in Sneedville in August 1997. He remained there until his retirement from active ministry in August 2013.

Father Jennings was incardinated into the Diocese of Knoxville in 1991, where he remained in ministry until his death.

He was preceded in death by his parents, George E. Jr. and Virginia Louise Owen Jennings; sister, Mary Cumberland; and brothers, Joseph Jennings and Matthew Jennings.

He is survived by his brother, George Earl Jennings III and wife Ruthanne of Tehachapi, Calif.; sister-in-law, Monica Jennings, of Cape Coral, Fla.; and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.

The funeral Mass was celebrated on Thursday, Jan. 31, at St. Henry Church in Rogersville. Bishop Richard F. Stika was the principal celebrant and homilist.

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