Father John R. Dowling, pastor

The Rev. John R. Dowling was born May 16, 1950, in Savannah, Ga., the son of Joseph S. Dowling and Margaret Angela Ryan Dowling. He is serving his second assignment at Holy Ghost Church. One of seven children, he has a brother who is also a priest, Father Kevin Dowling. The future Father John Dowling attended Catholic elementary schools in Savannah and in Cincinnati before the family moved to Chattanooga in 1964. There he attended Notre Dame High School, graduating in 1968. He graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a bachelor of science degree in business administration in 1973.

After college he worked for five years in the marketing and sales department of the Chattanooga Coca-Cola Bottling Co., doing price forecasting and acting as the firm’s convenience store representative. In 1978 he went to Borromeo Seminary in Cleveland, Ohio, for a year of pre-theology. From there he went to Mount St. Mary’s in Cincinnati. He was ordained a deacon April 3, 1982, by Archbishop Joseph Bernardin of Cincinnati at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains. He was ordained a priest June 17, 1983, by Nashville Bishop James D. Niedergeses at St. Jude Church in Chattanooga.

Father Dowling was briefly assigned as associate pastor of the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville and on July 14, 1983, was named associate pastor of St. Jude in Chattanooga. He spent four years at St. Jude and on July 14, 1987, was named associate pastor of Holy Ghost and pastor of Holy Family in Seymour. During his years at St. Jude, Father Dowling taught at Notre Dame High School, and he later taught at Knoxville Catholic High School. While at Holy Ghost, he hosted a weekly radio program, “Let There Be Light,” on WITA-AM. His assignment at Holy Family ended Sept. 1, 1996, when he was named pastor of Christ the King in Tazewell, also remaining at Holy Ghost and KCHS during this time. Upon the death of longtime Holy Ghost pastor Father Albert Henkel in 1996, Father Dowling became parochial administrator of the parish.

In 1997 Father Dowling became pastor of St. John Neumann in Farragut and was still leading the parish when it constructed a massive new Romanesque church from 2006 to 2008. On Feb. 1, 2010, Father Dowling became pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in Fairfield Glade, where he served until his return to Holy Ghost on July 1, 2014.

Father Dowling has written booklets that include “Why Confess Your Sins to a Priest?” published by Liguori Publications in 1994. In 2005 Father John Dowling, Father Kevin Dowling, and Father Vann Johnston–now Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau in Missouri–received national honors for saving a father and two of his children from plunging over a waterfall while the priests were on a hiking vacation in Montana.

Father John Orr, associate pastor

Father Orr, a native or Coral Gables, Fla, was ordained a priest on June 16, 2001, at Sacred Heart Cathedral. He received the M.A. and M.Div. degrees from Kenrick School of Theology in St. Louis and in 2014 completed his doctoral work in philosophy at the Maryvale Institute of Birmingham, England. The title of his thesis was:  “The Development of the Use of Reason in Karol Wojtyla and its Influence in John Paul II’s Fides et ratio.” Father Orr lay the groundwork for his doctorate with studies at the University of Tennessee from 2003 to 2006 before he applied to the Maryvale Institute in the Archdiocese of Birmingham in April 2006.

Before his appointment as associate pastor of Holy Ghost in August 2009, he served at Sts. Peter and Paul in Chattanooga, All Saints in Knoxville, Knoxville Catholic High School, St. John Neumann in Farragut, St. Alphonsus in Crossville, St. Therese in Clinton, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Spanish) in LaFollette.