Bishop Richard F. Stika ordained four new priests into the Diocese of Knoxville on Saturday, June 27 at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Jesus Guerrero-Rodriguez, Michael Hendershott, Scott Russell and Ray Powell all received their Holy Orders during the Rite of Ordination and a Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. “We have four new priests. Last year we had four new priests and the year before that we had one. It’s quite an accomplishment for a diocese our size,” Bishop Stika said in remarks near the end of Mass. In his homily, Bishop Stika offered the newly ordained priests advice as they take the next step in their service to the Catholic Church. “You will be an instrument of our Lord Jesus. You will be an instrument of God.” Bishop Stika said.
Father Michael Hendershott will be assigned to Sacred Heart Cathedral. He is from Farragut and says his parents and seven siblings have all been instrumental in his formation to the priesthood. His home parish is St. John Neumann. He studied for the priesthood at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, Pa. and the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy. So he will be able to “teach the faith so that it is clear and understood,” he will return to Rome in September to finish his License of Sacred Theology with a specialization in Dogmatic Theology. He will return to Knoxville in June of 2016. Fr. Hendershott says he is “very grateful to Bishop Stika and the Diocese of Knoxville for supporting him through eight years of seminary,” and in particular the past three years in Rome where he is near the Holy Father and “can bring back the treasures of the faith from Rome to East Tennessee so that we can connect to the two thousand years of Church history.”
Three other Deacons were also ordained to the priesthood:
• Father Guerrero-Rodriguez is originally from Mexico, but has lived in Philadelphia, Tenn. His home parish is St. Thomas the Apostle in Lenoir City. He studied for the priesthood at St. Meinrad School of Theology in Indiana. He will be assigned to St. Mary Church in Johnson City.
• Father Russell is originally from Signal Mountain, Tenn. His home parish is St. Bridget in Dayton, Tenn. He will be assigned to Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga and Sts. Peter and Paul Basilica in Chattanooga.
• Father Powell is from Apison, Tenn. He studied for the priesthood at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Wisconsin. His home parish is St. Stephen in Chattanooga. He will be assigned to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chattanooga.