Note-burning marks end of SJN School debt

SJN pastor Father Joe Reed’s action signifies that more than $2.75 million in loans have been entirely paid

St. John Neumann School in Farragut held a note-burning ceremony May 17 to celebrate that its school loans are entirely paid.

Since June 2018, when Father Joe Reed became pastor, the school has paid down more than $2.75 million in debt. The school credits the achievement to Father Reed, development director Patrick Wade, director of finance and operations Bill Derbyshire, and a supportive community of parishioners, student families, donors, and friends.

For the last several years, through the generous support of parish and school families and friends, St. John Neumann Church and School have made excellent progress paying down the mortgage of the church, school, and other buildings on the campus.

On May 17, after an all-school Mass, SJN students, teachers, and staff gathered to mark a major debt-reduction milestone: the final payment of the school mortgage.

Achieving the milestone ahead of schedule was made possible by a gift from an anonymous St. John Neumann Parish family. The family, whose daughter is a graduate of SJN School, have been generous supporters of SJN for many years. When they learned how close the parish and school were to paying off the loan, they decided to make the contribution so SJN could completely remove the debt from its balance sheet. The amount of the gift—$77,000—is symbolic because the parish was established in 1977.

Father Reed is encouraging parish and school families to add to this recent gift to continue accelerating its debt-reduction progress. He said the following about the note-burning ceremony:

“We are blessed to celebrate this historic moment and grateful to all our donors for making it possible. It is special commemorating this achievement with our students and faculty as our students are the future of the Catholic Church; leading them on the path to sainthood is our most important ministry.”

The parish and school began a concerted effort to accelerate debt reduction in June 2021, when its total debt was just over $8 million, most of which is composed of loans required to erect the church, school, and other buildings. As a result of sacrificial gifts made by parish and school families and friends, the total debt has already been reduced to approximately $4.5 million, and the parish office and athletics concession-stand buildings have been paid off. The remainder of the mortgage now consists of the church, rectory, and convent.

To support the milestone with a gift, donors can contribute online to the Debt Reduction Fund at and include “debt match” in the comments or write a check to SJN and include “debt match” in the memo line. Parish and school families and friends can contact Patrick Wade, SJN director of development, with any questions at or 865-777-3410.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *