The Catholic Foundation of East Tennessee has surpassed $2.9 million in combined distributions for diocesan seminarians and the growth of parishes since its inception.
John Deinhart, director of the Catholic Foundation, also announced for fiscal years 2014-15, the foundation distributed $131,000. This brings the total distributed by the foundation since inception to nearly $3 million.
“With a growing number of new members, and increasing financial commitments by our current members, I know we’re going to set an all-time record this coming year,” Mr. Deinhart said at the Catholic Foundation annual dinner in Knoxville on Oct. 18.
The Catholic Foundation of East Tennessee supports seminarians through tuition support.
“Annual tuition for a seminarian can reach $45,ooo, this allows us to offset their expenses and give these men an opportunity to grow spiritually and in their education without going into debt,” said Bishop Richard F. Stika.
“With help from Catholic Foundation members, more than 50 men have prepared for priestly ministry,” said Mr. Deinhart.
The Diocese of Knoxville has ordained eight priests in the past two years. The diocese has 9 seminarians currently studying for the priesthood.
Another component of the Catholic Foundation is support for church growth, by purchasing property for future parishes. These properties are provided free of charge to new parish communities such as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in Maynardville, which received 25 acres in Union County valued at $261,000.
Father Steve Pawelk, pastor of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, credited CFET with purchasing the property that will allow the parish to build a new church, with groundbreaking possible in early 2016.
“Without the Catholic Foundation of East Tennessee, we wouldn’t be talking about building a church right now,” Fr. Pawelk said. “We’d be trying to find the funds to buy property. The Catholic Foundation bought the property– and that’s allowed us to focus on building a church. We’re on a way toward doing that,” he added.
The Catholic Foundation of East Tennessee was established in 1988.
When the Diocese of Knoxville was founded, there were 11 counties in East Tennessee without a Catholic church.
There are now just 2 counties without a parish.