Bishop announces new priest assignments

Bishop Richard F. Stika has announced new pastoral assignments, with their effective dates later than usual due to the impact of COVID-19 on parishes in the Diocese of Knoxville.

Father Randy Stice is returning to East Tennessee as director of Worship and Liturgy for the Diocese of Knoxville effective Sept. 9 after serving a three-year term as associate director of the Secretariat of Divine Worship for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Following his ordination to the priesthood in 2007, Father Stice served as a parochial vicar in two parishes. He was appointed director of the Office of Worship and Liturgy for the diocese in 2009 and also served as diocesan master of ceremonies from 2011 to 2013, and pastor of St. Mary Parish in Athens from 2013-17.

He joined the USCCB in July 2017, relocating to Washington, D.C. He continued to serve as diocesan director of Worship and Liturgy with assistance from Father Joe Reed.

The Secretariat of Divine Worship carries out work for the USCCB in areas relating to the preparation and approval of liturgical books and texts in the United States. It also provides leadership in liturgical formation and sacramental catechesis and serves as a resource for bishops and diocesan liturgical commissions and offices of worship seeking advice.

Bishop Stika also announced that longtime diocesan priest Father Tom Moser has retired from active priestly ministry.

Father Moser will be in residence and serving as weekday minister at St. Catherine Labouré Parish in Copperhill effective Sept. 9. He served as pastor of St. Catherine Labouré from 2014 to 2019, when he was appointed associate pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish

in Chattanooga. Prior to that, he was associate pastor of St. Thérèse of Lisieux Parish in Cleveland.

Father Moser was born in St. Paul, Minn., and studied at the University of Minnesota before graduating from Loyola College in Baltimore. He also studied at Quincy College in Illinois, the Franciscan Institute, and St. Bonaventure University in Olean, N.Y. He studied for the priesthood at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wis., before his 1994 priestly ordination by Knoxville’s founding bishop at St. Leo Church in St Paul.

Father Moser has served in several assignments for the Diocese of Knoxville, including as associate pastor or pastor in locations ranging from South Pittsburg to Kingsport and from Chattanooga to Fairfield Glade.

Father Jerry Daniels, pastor of St. Catherine Labouré, also will serve as resident chaplain at Christ Prince of Peace Retreat Center in Benton effective Sept. 9. Father Daniels previously has served as parochial administrator of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Townsend.

Father Colin Blatchford, associate pastor of the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Chattanooga, has been named associate director of Courage International, a Roman Catholic apostolate for men and women who experience same-sex attractions that is based in Trumbull, Conn. The appointment is for a five-year term that began Sept. 8.

Father Blatchford, who was ordained to the priesthood in May 2014, also has served as sacramental minister to the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Catholic Center and previously served as associate pastor at All Saints Church in Knoxville.

Father Moisés Moreno, associate pastor of St. Jude Parish in Chattanooga, has been assigned to the basilica as associate pastor effective Sept. 9.

Father Moreno was ordained by Bishop Stika in November 2010 in his Central Mexico hometown. His first assignment was at St. Jude.

Father David Carter, pastor of the basilica, has been reappointed to that ministerial post for a six-year term effective Sept. 1. Father Carter has served as the basilica’s pastor since July 2014, when he succeeded Monsignor George Schmidt. Father Carter, a canon lawyer, also was appointed earlier this year by Bishop Stika to lead the new Tribunal of the Diocese of Knoxville.

Father Valentin Iurochkin, IVE, a Russian priest who joined the Diocese of Knoxville in October 2019 and has been in residence at the basilica, has been appointed associate pastor of the basilica and chaplain at the University of Tennessee–Chattanooga Neumann Center effective Sept. 9.

Father Iurochkin is originally from East Russia and studied for the priesthood in Italy. The new associate priest speaks five languages: Russian, English, Spanish, Italian, and Chinese, and has performed two livestreamed piano concerts for the diocese from the basilica since his arrival.

Father Alex Waraksa, who has been serving as an assisting priest and coordinator of Hispanic Ministry in the Five Rivers Deanery and has been in residence at Holy Trinity Parish in Jefferson City, has been named associate pastor at St. Jude effective Sept. 9.

Father Waraksa, who was the first priest ordained in the Diocese of Knoxville in May 1990, also has served as the National Spiritual Advisor for the Cursillo Movement in the United States.

Father Andrés Cano, who has been serving as associate pastor at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Alcoa, has been appointed coordinator of Hispanic Ministry in the Five Rivers Deanery and as sacramental minister to the Handmaids of the Precious Blood contemplative community at their Cor Jesu Monastery in New Market effective Sept. 9.

Father Cano is a native of Colombia who was ordained to the priesthood in his home country in 2009. His previous assignments have included serving as an associate pastor of St. Mary Parish in Gatlinburg, as pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Pigeon Forge, as associate pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Mary Parish in Oak Ridge, and chaplain to the Hispanic community of St. Alphonsus Parish in Crossville.

Father Dustin Collins, parochial administrator of St. Mary Parish in Johnson City since 2019, has been named pastor of St. Mary effective Sept. 9. Father Collins also has been working with the Latin Mass community in Johnson City.

Father Collins previously has served as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Alcoa and St. Mary Parish in Oak Ridge. A native of Greeneville, Father Collins was the 40th priest ordained for the diocese in 2012.

Father Christopher Floersh has been named diocesan director of vocations and chaplain of Knoxville Catholic High School effective July 1. Father Floersh has served as parttime associate pastor of St. John Neumann Parish in Farragut and also as co-vocation director for the diocese.

Following his 2017 ordination to the priesthood, Father Floersh was assigned as chaplain at Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga and part-time parochial vicar at St. Stephen Parish in Chattanooga.

Father Michael Hendershott has been appointed a full-time associate pastor of Holy Ghost Parish in Knoxville effective July 1. He will continue to coordinate the Latin Mass community at Holy Ghost.

Father Hendershott, who was ordained to the priesthood in 2015, has been serving as part-time associate pastor of Holy Ghost and coordinator of the Latin Mass community there. He also served as chaplain and on the faculty at Knoxville Catholic High School. Previously, he was an associate pastor at Sacred Heart Cathedral and associate vocations director for the Diocese of Knoxville.

Father Adam Kane has been appointed associate pastor of Holy Ghost effective Oct. 1. He was serving as temporary parochial administrator of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in LaFollette, Christ the King Parish in Tazewell, and St. Jude Parish in Helenwood until Oct. 1.

Father Kane, who was ordained to the priesthood in 2014, has served as an associate pastor at All Saints Parish and at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Father Sam Sturm will be the new pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in LaFollette, Christ the King Parish, and St. Jude Parish in Helenwood effective Oct. 1.

Father Sturm, who was ordained to the priesthood in 1999, has served as pastor of St. Bridget Parish in Dayton since July 2007.

Father Thomas O’Connell will serve as sacramental minister at St. Jude Church Parish in Helenwood. He began that ministry Sept. 9. Father O’Connell is retired from active priestly ministry. He has served as pastor of Holy Resurrection Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Mission in Knoxville and sacramental minister at the Diocese of Knoxville Chancery.

Father Jim Vick has been named pastor of St. Bridget beginning Oct. 1. Previously, Father Vick served as pastor of St. Bridget from 2005 to 2009 and has been coordinator of Hispanic Ministry for the Chattanooga Deanery. In 2009, he was named pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Chattanooga, and prior to that he led St. Mary Parish in Athens and also served as associate pastor of OLPH in Chattanooga.

Father Vick, a former dentist in private practice, was ordained to the priesthood in 1999.

Father Arthur Torres, who has served as associate pastor at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus since his 2013 ordination to the priesthood, has been appointed pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Chattanooga effective Oct. 1.

Father Torres also has served as deanery coordinator for vocations and master of ceremonies for diocesan Masses and as moderator of the Hispanic Marriage Encounter Ecclesial Movement.

In his new role, Father Torres also will be the pastoral leader of Our Lady of Perpetual Help School.

Father Jhon Mario Garcia, a priest of the Congregation of the Mission, Lazarists, Vincentians who joined the Diocese of Knoxville earlier this year, has been named associate pastor at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus effective July 1.

And Father Jorge Mejia, also a priest of the Congregation of the Mission, Lazarists, Vincentians who joined the Diocese of Knoxville earlier this year, has been named associate pastor of All Saints Parish in Knoxville effective July 13.

Father Alexander Hernandez, who was ordained to the priesthood Aug. 29 at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, has been named associate pastor at All Saints Parish effective Sept. 9.

Father Zachary Griffith, who also was ordained to the priesthood Aug. 29 at Sacred Heart Cathedral, is the new associate pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Chattanooga as of Sept. 9.

Father Alberto Sescon is the new chaplain of Ascension Living Alexian Village in Signal Mountain effective Sept. 9. Father Sescon has been pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in LaFollette, St. Jude Parish in Helenwood, and Christ the King Parish in Tazewell since 2018.

Previously, Father Sescon served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Fairfield Glade from 2014 to 2018, He was incardinated into the Diocese of Knoxville in July 2016 after serving in the Archdiocese of Detroit for eight years. Father Sescon, who was ordained a priest in June 1986 in Cebu City in the Philippines, also has ministered to the Diocese of Knoxville’s Filipino Catholic community.

Father Sescon has previously served as parochial administrator and pastor of St. Thérèse of Lisieux and as a chaplain at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

Father Miguel Vélez-Cardona, who has served as associate pastor of All Saints Parish since 2015, has been appointed parochial vicar of St. Patrick Church in Morristown effective Sept. 9.

Father Vélez-Cardona also has been the diocesan moderator of the Charismatic Movements for Hispanics. He was ordained in June 2008 at Our Lady of Carmel Church in Pereira, Colombia. He began seminary training in Colombia and completed his training at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois.

There will be change in pastoral leadership at Immaculate Conception Parish in Knoxville later this year.

Father Ron Franco, CSP, is returning to the Paulist motherhouse in his Native New York City at the end of 2020. He will continue in his role as vice postulator of the cause for canonization of Servant of God Isaac Hecker, founder of the Paulist Fathers.

Father Franco, who has served as pastor of Immaculate Conception since August 2010, is a New York City native who was ordained a priest in October 1995.

For the Diocese of Knoxville, Father Franco has served as dean of the Smoky Mountain Deanery and on the diocesan Presbyteral Council.

He previously served as associate pastor of the Paulists’ mother church, the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City.

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