Knoxville native Sara Lauer to lead East Tennessee’s only Catholic Church retail outlet
From staff reports
The Diocese of Knoxville and the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus have announced that the Paraclete Catholic Books and Gifts store is now under new management.
Sara Lauer, a Knoxville native with nearly two decades of business management and operations experience, began her new role as manager of The Paraclete on Nov. 11.
“We are excited to make this hire,” said Deacon Walt Otey, who was appointed by Bishop Richard F. Stika to lead the hiring process. “This store has a wonderful history of serving customers of the Catholic community, and even non-Catholics interested in books and gifts for their Catholic friends. We are looking forward to continuing this great tradition.”
In the coming months, Ms. Lauer said she will prioritize updating inventory in the bookstore and modernizing methods that will include enhanced online ordering.
The Paraclete was established in 1987 by longtime Sacred Heart Cathedral parishioners Karl and Becky Fillauer. The Fillauer family has operated Fillauer Companies, a leader in the production of orthotic and prosthetic products.
The store originally was located on Broadway near the Fourth and Gill neighborhood in Knoxville. It moved to its current location on the cathedral campus at 711 S. Northshore Drive in 1990. The Diocese of Knoxville’s founding bishop wanted the store located close to Sacred Heart Cathedral, so it was relocated.
Mr. and Mrs. Fillauer gifted The Paraclete to the diocese in April 2012, and it has become a ministry for the diocese. Any income above expenses benefits diocesan seminarian education.
Ms. Lauer said the store’s business hours will remain Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the possibility of expanded hours during Advent and Christmas.
The Paraclete can be reached by calling 865-588-0388 or online at paracletecatholic.org .
The Paraclete celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2017, a retail milestone, especially considering it is the only dedicated Catholic book and gift store in East Tennessee. The Paraclete supplies several parish gift shops, among them St. Mary in Johnson City, Our Lady of Fatima in Alcoa, and the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Chattanooga.
The name of the store originated with Father Francis Chaisson. “Paraclete” means the Holy Spirit but can also signify “called to the side of,” “counselor,” “comforter,” and “consoler.”
Bishop Richard F. Stika offered his thanks and gratitude to Vonnie Spicer and her daughter, Tricia Sellers, for their dedication and longtime service in their respective roles as general manager and sales manager for The Paraclete since its establishment in 1987.
Both women informed the diocese of their desire to step down from their positions after 32 years, effective Oct. 14.
“The service Vonnie and Tricia provided dates back to before the Diocese of Knoxville being founded,” Bishop Stika said. “Both of them have been dedicated leaders. The retail business has changed dramatically in recent years, and the Paraclete hasn’t been immune to those challenges. The diocese has been working to improve ways that The Paraclete can better serve its customers and our parishes, and we wanted Vonnie and Tricia to be a part of that process.”
Bishop Stika appointed Deacon Walt Otey as interim general manager of The Paraclete. Deacon Otey has served in that capacity during the transition to new management with Ms. Lauer.