Monsignor Francis Xavier Mankel, instrumental in founding of diocese, dies at 81

Jim Wogan News

Bishop Richard F. Stika has announced that Monsignor Francis Xavier Mankel, a priest whose leadership was instrumental in helping establish the Diocese of Knoxville nearly thirty years ago, died early Wednesday morning at the age of 81.

Monsignor Mankel had been battling health issues in recent months and passed away at his home in Knoxville.  

Monsignor Mankel’s service to the Catholic Church goes back to an era before the Diocese of Knoxville existed.  He was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Nashville in 1961 and he has been lauded by many Church dignitaries as instrumental in developing the solid foundation the Diocese of Knoxville was built upon when it was created by Pope John Paul II in 1988.

Monsignor Mankel was a Knoxville native, born at St. Mary’s Memorial Hospital on Nov. 8, 1935.  His Knoxville roots and deep personal connection with East Tennessee was often noted by Bishop Richard F. Stika who recalled Monsignor Mankel as one of the “founding fathers” of the diocese.

“I have always enjoyed spending time with him,” Bishop Stika said. “I could bring up any name in the diocese, and sometimes any Catholic name in all of East Tennessee, and he’d say ‘I knew his mommy and I knew his daddy, and his daddy was related to…’ and he goes on with the whole family tree,” Bishop Stika added. “He (was) just a wealth of knowledge of the Catholic Church of East Tennessee.”

Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Knoxville will celebrate a parish Mass for Monsignor Mankel on Monday, June 26 at 7 p.m. Visitation will be from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m.

A Funeral Mass for Monsignor Mankel will be celebrated on Tuesday, June 27 at 2 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Knoxville. Visitation will be from 1 p.m. until 1:45 p.m. Burial will be a private celebration limited to family and priests.

See below for additional tributes and memories of Monsignor Francis Xavier Mankel. 

Read news coverage of Monsignor Mankel:

Knoxville News Sentinel

Monsignor Mankel Reflections

In 2014, Monsignor Xavier Mankel sat down with then-Sacred Heart Cathedral Communications Director Pam Rhoades for a discussion on building a new cathedral. The interview also touched on the history and future of the Diocese of Knoxville. The video below includes some of Monsignor Mankel’s reflections on those topics.


2016 Chrism Mass-Bishop Stika thanks Monsignor Mankel
for his service to the Catholic Church

Photo Gallery- Monsignor Mankel Through the Years

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Monsignor Mankel’s Golden Jubilee Mass
Produced by: Deacon Patrick Murphy-Racey