St. Therese in Clinton was one of the original Harriman missions. From as far back as 1911, priests from Harriman served the faithful Catholics in Anderson County. There is little recorded of the history of Catholicism in the area until around 1960. The correspondence between Fr. Joel Wiggs and Bishop William Adrian attests to the fact that during the 1960’s there were many Catholics from Clinton who were attending mass in Oak Ridge. It would seem that in 1966 the care of the faithful in Clinton was transferred from Harriman to Oak Ridge.
“The first mass in a church was celebrated in May, 1968.” This mass took place in St. Alban’s Episcopal Church by Fr. William Nolan, who was at the time, associate pastor at Harriman. In 1971, St. Alban’s Church, and the surrounding property was purchased by the Diocese of Nashville and took the name of St. Therese.
In 1976 the parish grew to the point that it could support itself and was established as part of the Norris-LaFollette mission under the leadership of Fr. Bill Gahagan.
Sr. Yvette Gillen, RSM, who began service to the parish as a volunteer in 1974, and who has served as pastoral associate since 1985, has great things to say about the parish. In an East Tennessee Catholic article on August 18, 1996 she says,
I have experienced a lot of love in this parish. People are very open here just like family. I’ve seen growth not only in the number of members, but also in the spiritual lives of the people and families.
In my recent conversations with Sr. Yvette, she also mentioned the strong ownership that parishioners have at St. Therese that is expressed in their commitment through their artistic talents. The parish station of the cross, stained glass windows and baptismal font have all been created by members of the parish.
For more information about St. Therese Parish, you can visit their website by clicking here.