Dr. Dan Kennedy, a longtime educator and a 25-year member of the Catholic Foundation of East Tennessee, was recognized as the newest member of the Society of St. Peter during the foundation’s 2019 annual dinner on Sunday, Nov. 3, in Knoxville.
Dr. Kennedy was presented with a blessed icon of St. Peter by Bishop Richard F. Stika who offered his gratitude and thanks to Dr. Kennedy for his years of support to the foundation which helps finance seminarian education and the purchase of land to construct churches in the Diocese of Knoxville.
The Catholic Foundation of East Tennessee raised and distributed more than $106,000 in the 2018-19 fiscal year. Of that, $56,933 was designated to help support the education of 13 seminarians. The remainder, $50,000, was used to help fund property purchases.
On behalf of the foundation, Dr. Kennedy presented a check to Bishop Stika for the contribution to seminarian education.
“Many of us here tonight know the challenge of paying for our children’s college education. I have two children in college right now. It’s a lot of money. Now imagine, the Diocese of Knoxville has 13 kids in college (seminary) right now, all at the same time,” said John Deinhart, director of stewardship and strategic planning for the Diocese of Knoxville. “It costs the diocese around $48,000 a year to educate each of them. At over $600,000 annually, seminarian education is the single largest line item in our diocesan budget every year,” Mr. Deinhart said.
The Catholic Foundation of East Tennessee has raised and distributed more than $3.4 million dollars for seminarian education and land purchases for church construction. More than $2.6 million has gone toward the purchase of more than 250 acres for the building of new churches. More than $770,000 has been directed toward seminarian education.
Father Mark Schuster, a 2019 graduate of St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana, was a featured speaker at the dinner. Father Schuster was ordained to the priesthood at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in June. He now serves at St. John Neumann Parish in Farragut.
“Seminary is a protected time where men can go away and be formed by Christ and be formed by the instruments that He has entrusted to the Church, through prayer and study,” Father Schuster told the dinner attendees. “Great growth goes on.. we change.”
The Diocese of Knoxville is expected to ordain two new priests in 2020– transitional deacons Alex Hernandez and Zach Griffith.
The Diocese of Knoxville has ordained 53 priests since its establishment in 1988.
Bishop Stika noted that the dinner was his 11th since becoming bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville. Among the nearly 130 attendees, more than 470 years of membership were represented.
“I want to thank you all for being here with us again tonight,” Bishop Stika said. “I am grateful for seeing what is happening in this diocese, and also at the parishes. I also invite those who aren’t a part of this wonderful and very vital foundation, to consider joining. Your membership would be so meaningful to continuing to build the Catholic Church in East Tennessee.”