Bishop Richard Stika

Richard Sitka was born July 4th, 1957 in St Louis. He graduated from DuBourg High School and the University of St Louis, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business. He then earned a Master of Arts degree in philosophy fro Cardinal Glennon College and Master of Divinity degree in theology from Kenrick Seminary St. Louis. He was ordained to the proiesthood for the Archdiocese of St. Louis on December 14th, 1985

Invariably described as "sweet," "down-to-earth," "kind" and "approachable," the bishop-elect became secretary to then-Archbishop Justin Rigali on his 1994 appointment to the Gateway City; within months, Rigali made the young aide his chancellor and, three years later, elevated him to vicar-general of the 560,000-member archdiocese.

Ordained in 1985, the Stika's profile increased after his coordination of the 1999 papal visit to St Louis, which included the largest indoor gathering in American history as John Paul celebrated Mass for 100,000-plus in its TransWorld Dome. Following the visit, the late pontiff was said to have especially enjoyed how the priest left photos of his family in place for John Paul to see and bless while he occupied Stika's bedroom during his stay.

An alumnus of the archdiocese's Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, Stika received a bachelor's in business from St Louis University before entering priestly formation. After the bishop-elect underwent heart bypass surgery in 2004, shortly after Rigali's transfer to Philadelphia, the cardinal's successor Archbishop Raymond Burke assigned his top deputy to the wealthy Ladue parish, keeping him at the helm of the local church's abuse-prevention and survivor-outreach efforts. Granted bi-ritual faculties in the Maronite church at the time of his ordination, the appointee has also served for several years as chaplain to a Carmelite convent.

Founded in 1988, the Knoxville church comprises just 2% of its area's total population, but stands in the front rank of the Stateside church's ever-burgeoning Southern emergence. Encompassing some 47 parishes and 10 schools spread over 14,000 square miles of Volunteer Country, the growing, energetic diocese has more than doubled in size since 1990. Its seven seminarians may not sound like much, but a diocese of a million members would need 140 men in formation to have a contingent of equal proportion; widely celebrated for his efforts at energizing the turf and bulking up its ordained ranks, Kurtz ordained three priests and 29 permanent deacons in his final weeks before leaving for Louisville. Just in recent weeks, one booming parish near the see city opened a new 900-seat, $11 million church built in the Romanesque style.

In terms of the wider chessboard, the bishop-elect arrives to find one major vacancy in his new curia: Kurtz's lead lieutenant, Vann Johnston, was named bishop of Missouri's Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese early last year. Meanwhile, in St Louis, this morning's appointment removes a longtime star from the diocesan scene as the city awaits a successor to Burke, who was called to Rome as the church's "chief justice" last June.

What's more, the timing is especially notable given the impending 75th birthday of the Bishops' prefect Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re. An ally and key collaborator of Stika's mentor for close to four decades, with leading observers currently tipping that the longtime head of the dicastery responsible for recommending episcopal appointments to the Pope won't be waiting long for the arrival of his own successor, this scenario will do little to quell the buzz anticipating a rapid handover of the all-important Curial post.

Already on the ground in his new charge for the traditional Appointment Day introductions and press conference later, the bishop-elect will be ordained and installed on St Joseph's Day, 19 March, in a Mass to be held in Knoxville's convention center. In a break from the normal protocol -- which would see the metropolitan (in this case, Kurtz) perform the ordination -- Pharaoh himself will serve as principal consecrator.

With the move, the number of vacant Stateside dioceses falls to nine, the group now led by South Carolina's statewide church of Charleston, which has been awaiting a new head since August 2007.
PHOTO: Diocese of Knoxville
Pastor: Fr. Bill McKenzie

Father Bill McKenzie was born and raised in Nashville Tennessee, the fourth of six sons to Winnie and Earl McKenzie.  Earl McKenzie was a permanent Deacon for the Diocese of Nashville and an Electrical Engineer for Nashville Electric Service. Winnie was in Nursing; later in her life she was involved with the development of the St. Patrick shelter for woman and families, and received various awards for her contributions. Church and Ministry have always been an important part of the family’s life. Earl passed away in 1989, and Winnie in 2003.  Andy and Jim McKenzie, two of Fr. Bill’s brothers, are Deacons for the Diocese of Nashville.  The rest of the brothers and their families still live in theNashville area. Father has 11 nieces and nephews and 9 great nieces and nephews.

Father attended eight years at Christ the King Grade School, and four years at Father Ryan High School, where he graduated in 1972.  He entered the Seminary that same year, at St. Mary’s Seminary College in Baltimore MD.  After two years at St. Mary’s he worked a year in Chattanooga, TN, in retail.  The following year entered St. Meinrad Seminary College to complete his undergraduate studies.  Father attended the Pontifical College Josephinum for graduate studies to complete his Master of Divinity.

Father Bill was ordained to the Deaconate on April 11, 1981, and assigned to Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksville TN.  Father was ordained to the Priesthood on February 19, 1982, for the Diocese of Nashville, and was assigned to St. Jude’s in Chattanooga.  Other assignments since ordination include Immaculate Conception in Clarksville, Notre Dame in Greenville, Good Shepherd in Newport, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chattanooga.  During a leave from the Diocese Father Bill worked in healthcare and housing for low income elderly.  Father worked to establish 9 new housing facilities to meet the needs of the poor as part of the Mission of Catholic Healthcare Partners, the parent company of St. Mary’s Health System.

While working for Catholic Healthcare Partners, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy Father Bill became an Associate of the Sisters of Mercy.  Because of the involvement of the Sisters of Mercy in Fathers education and family, he found spirit and faith in the association. 

Stop by the Parish and say “Hello”. Father says that, in deference to the Beetles song Eleanor Rigby he prefers to be called Fr. Bill.  The image of “darning his socks in the night as he sits all alone” or “writing a sermon that no one will hear”  just doesn’t fit, or maybe is just too scary.

Associate Pastor: Rev. William McNeeley.

The other Fr. Bill’s last name is McNeeley.  He is the youngest of six children of Gene and Madeline McNeeley of Norris, TN.  His late father, doctor Gene, was the last of the old country doctors.  When we received our driver’s license, one of our jobs was to take Dad on house calls.  “After high school I spent several years as a navy hospital corpsman.  After that I completed pre-med studies at U. T. Chattanooga, but when it was time for a career decision, I believed I would be a better physician of  souls, than of the Body.”  During his senior year of college he married Sherri.  Fr. Bill received a Master of Divinity degree and was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church in 1985.   Bill and Sherri have two grown children, Luke, who was married in August 2011 and his daughter, Kate who married the previous year.  Fr. Bill says that when he signs a letter or an email to his children, he likes to sign it “Father Dad”. 

After fifteen years as an Anglican priest, and witnessing the secular influences and a general moral and theological decline in the Episcopal Church, Fr. Bill started reading and learning about the Catholic Church.  “A friend loaned me copy of  The Catechism of the Catholic Church”, Fr. Bill explained. After 15 minutes he looked over to his wife, Sherri and said, “Hey!  This is what they were supposed to teach us in seminary.”  “I read the whole thing over the next week or two and I was hooked.”  He added, “Not unlike Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, I knew what I had to do. Like him I came to realize that either the one, holy Catholic Church of God is one, or it is not.  Additionally, either I am a part of that one church, or I am not.  The only real way to be catholic is to be a catholic.”   In October 2000 he resigned his parish in middle Tennessee and came home to Knoxville.  He was received in to the Catholic Church at the Easter vigil in 2001 and over the next several years he continued his studies and pursued the “Pastoral Provision” a process for ordained ministers of protestant churches to be reconciled with the Catholic Church.  On March 21, 2005, his petition for ordination was presented by Cardinal Ratzinger to Blessed John Paul II on their last work session before the Holy Father died.  The petition was approved and Fr. Bill was ordained a Catholic priest on June 3, 2007.

  I love my ministry at Our Lady of Fatima.  It is everything I had been hoping for and expecting, even when I was ordained back in 1985.  There is nothing so wonderful as being able to say “I am a priest in the church of God, without having to explain, qualify or clarify what I mean.”  As the scripture says “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek of old.”