Fr. Griffith named chaplain for Courage, EnCourage in Diocese of Knoxville

Fr. Colin Blatchford serving as associate director of Courage International

By Bill Brewer

Bishop Richard F. Stika has appointed Father Zachary Griffith as chaplain for Courage and EnCourage in the Diocese of Knoxville.

Fr. Griffith

Father Griffith, who serves as associate pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Chattanooga, began his additional role on July 1. He succeeds Father Valentin Iurochkin, who continues to serve as associate pastor of the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Chattanooga and as chaplain for the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Newman Center.

Courage is a Catholic Church program that ministers to men and women who experience same-sex attraction and have made a commitment to strive for chastity. They are inspired by the Gospel call to holiness and the Catholic Church’s teachings about the goodness and inherent purpose of human sexuality.

EnCourage is a complementary Catholic ministry for members who are parents, spouses, siblings, and friends of people who identify as LGBTQ. They are looking for help to keep the faith and keep their family bonds intact.

In his new role, Father Griffith will be ministering to people with same-sex attractions in the Diocese of Knoxville.

Father Griffith was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Stika in August 2020. Our Lady of Perpetual Help is his first assignment.

Father Colin Blatchford, a Diocese of Knoxville priest, continues to serve as associate director of Courage International, a Trumbull, Conn.-based apostolate that was founded in 1980. It is a nonprofit organization.

Fr. Blatchford

Father Blatchford received his appointment to Courage International in September 2020. Prior to being named a director, he was a chaplain for Courage and EnCourage in the Diocese of Knoxville for two and a half years.

Father Blatchford relocated to Courage International’s Connecticut headquarters in the Diocese of Bridgeport to serve in the position.

Even though Father Blatchford has taken up residence in the Diocese of Bridgeport, he remains incardinated in the Knoxville Diocese.

Father Philip Bochanski, who has served as Courage International’s executive director since 2017 until his June 3 departure, called Father Blatchford’s appointment a blessing and privilege.

“It is a blessing and a privilege to welcome Father Blatchford to the Courage office,” Father Bochanski said. “We are exceedingly grateful to Bishop Stika for his support for our apostolate, and his generosity in sharing with us such a fine priest.”

Father Bochanski himself joined the Courage apostolate as associate director in 2015, having served as local Courage chaplain in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for five years.

The Philadelphia priest returned to his archdiocese, where he has been appointed vicar general and moderator of the curia.

Father Blatchford was ordained to the priesthood in May 2014 by Bishop Stika and has served as an associate pastor at All Saints Parish in Knoxville and as parochial vicar of the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul as well as chaplain at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga’s Newman Center.

“Father Blatchford has a wonderful devotion to sharing our Catholic faith, and he does so with a very compassionate heart,” Bishop Stika said at the time of Father Blatchford’s appointment.

“He possesses an ability to connect with people of all ages but especially young people, with understanding and empathy. Clearly, Father has a place in his heart for the mission and ministry of Courage International. In a way, we view Father Blatchford as a gift that the Diocese of Knoxville received when I ordained him, and he is a gift that we are pleased to share with Courage International,” Bishop Stika added.

More information about Courage and EnCourage can be found at

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