The Rev. Dr. Father John Arthur Orr, Parochial Administrator

Father John Arthur Orr was born in the Archdiocese of Miami on the feast day of St. Juan Diego (December 9). He is the youngest of three children.

His studies in philosophy and theology were undertaken at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. (Ph.B., 1991); Kenrick School of Theology in Saint Louis (M.A., M.Div., 2001); and the Maryvale Institute and Liverpool Hope University in the United Kingdom (Ph.D., 2014). Father Orr also studied business at Western Governors University Tennessee (M.B.A., 2019).

He was ordained a transitional deacon in the Jubilee 2000 at St. Therese Church in Cleveland, Tennessee, and a priest at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Knoxville on June 16, 2001, by now Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz. Father Orr has served at Sts. Peter and Paul in Chattanooga (as a deacon in 2000); at All Saints and Holy Ghost (2009-2016) in Knoxville as an associate; and as pastor of St. Therese in Clinton (2006-2009), St. Joseph the Worker in Madisonville (2016-2018), and St. Mary in Athens (2018-2024). For four years (2002-2006) Father Orr was a resident at St. John Neumann Church in Farragut, where he helped design and build the new church. For six years (2002-2008) he served as spiritual director and teacher at Knoxville Catholic High School, teaching freshmen, juniors, and seniors basic doctrine, morals, vocations, ecumenism, readings in philosophy, and music appreciation.

Father Orr has written and published numerous books: The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the Interpretation of Sacred Scripture (2011); Dogmatic Questions and Answers for the Year of Faith (2012); The New Evangelization: Pastoral Reflections on the Creed (2013); Reason in Wojtyla/John Paul II (2014); The New Evangelization: Pastoral Reflections on the Sacraments (2015); The New Evangelization: Pastoral Reflections on the Commandments (2016); The New Evangelization: Pastoral Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer and the Rosary (2017). With colleagues from the United Kingdom, Father Orr produced The Philosophical Magisterium of John Paul II Implicit in Laudato si’ and edited the volume Reflections on Pope Francis’s Encyclical Laudato si’ (2017). Father Orr co-authored with Barbara Murphy ‟Catholic Church music today in theory and practice I-II,” Sacred Music 131:4 (Winter 2004), 5-19; 132:1 (Spring 2005), 5-19.

As a youth Father Orr participated in the Boy Scouts of America and received the rank of Eagle Scout and the Vigil Honor of the Order of the Arrow, camping and hiking in South Florida. For exercise Father Orr swims. In his youth he played a lot of tennis. As an undergraduate Father Orr joined the Knights of Columbus in 1987 and has been a charter member of several councils. He is a former Tennessee State Chaplain for the Knights.

Father Valentin Iurochkin, Associate Pastor

Fr. Valentin grew up in Russia and was baptized at the age of 14 when he heard the call to the priesthood. His family left Russia in 1997 to live in the United States. They currently live in Michigan.

At the age of 18 he entered the novitiate in Tajikistan (Dushanbe). A year later he started seminary in Italy, studying philosophy, Latin and Greek languages. He speaks six languages: Russian, Ukrainian, Italian, Spanish, English, Chinese (Mandarin), Greek and Latin.

In 2014 he was sent to Ukraine to help at the minor seminary during the invasion of Crimea. Every two months he was supposed to leave the country for Belarus. At the night of the invasion he was crossing the border of Belarus and Ukraine when the train he was on was stopped by the Ukrainian border patrol at 2:00am. The military searched the train with German Shepherds. Father Valentin was the only Russian on the train and he barely escaped deportation back to Belarus, as his paperwork was in order.

In 2015 Fr. Valentin went to Argentina to study Spanish. He returned to Italy that year and at the end of the year he was sent to the Philippines and Taiwan to study English and Chinese. He was trained to be a priest for the underground Church in mid-China, prior to his ordination.

In 2018 he was ordained as a deacon and a year later as a priest on March 25, 2019 in the Philippines. In July 2019 he obtained an indult from Pope Francis in order to take a leave of absence from his Argentinian community.

He met with Bishop Stika in 2019 and was invited by him to serve in the Diocese of Knoxville. He was assigned to Sts. Peter and Paul in Chattanooga, where he served as Parochial Vicar until being reassigned to Holy Ghost in February 2024. He’s looking forward to serving our English, Latin and Spanish communities and to playing piano recitals for our parishioners.

Deacon Gordy Lowery

gordy-200Deacon Gordy Lowery and his wife, Fran, are natives of Geneva, NY. He was transferred to Tennessee in 1995 with Philips Consumer Electronics. He converted to the Roman Catholic faith in 2001. Deacon Gordy was ordained on June 9, 2007. Before his transfer to Holy Ghost Church in August 2014, he served at Holy Trinity Church in Jefferson City, TN

He graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science Degree. He later went on to the University of Tennessee and received a Master of Science degree in Human Resource Development.

Deacon Gordy and Fran have been married 47 years. They have two children and one grandchild.

Deacon Gordy and Fran are coordinators for the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Deacon Gordy is the spiritual director of the Legion of Mary both for the adults of Holy Ghost Church and the children at St. Joseph School. Deacon Gordy and Fran are also involved in RCIA, visiting newly weds, visiting recent widows/widowers. Deacon Gordy is currently leading the Hispanics in Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament on the 4th Tuesday of each month.

Deacon Gordy and Fran are so happy to be part of the spiritual family at Holy Ghost Church.

Deacon Dave Venesky

Deacon Dave is originally from Syracuse New York where he attended a Catholic grammar school and served as an altar boy at Sacred Heart Basilica on the west side of town. He graduated from LeMoyne College, a Jesuit college located in Dewitt, NY, in 1970 with a degree in Business administration with a minor in accounting. After graduation, he worked for a large blue chip corporation in the states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

Deacon Dave worked for Syracuse University as the Business manager of Syracuse University Bookstores for twenty years before leaving to start his own business. He started a company that sold and serviced major home appliances and water heaters, furnaces, and central air conditioners for twenty-five years. During this time Deacon Dave volunteered for the Diocese of Syracuse and supplied kitchen and laundry appliances for several parishes, priests and nuns of the diocese. He was a member of St. Johns Church in Liverpool, NY, serving as a lector, eucharistic minister and performed building maintenance and repair for over thirty-four years.

Deacon Dave married his best friend, Mary, fifty one years ago and they have two children. In 2008 he was semi-retired and moved to East Tennessee. He served as a lector, eucharistic minister, and food pantry associate at Immaculate Conception Church. He is also Third Degree Knight in Council 645, serving as its treasurer for several years, before entering formation to the diaconate in 2017.

Deacon Dave was ordained in June 2022 and assigned to Holy Ghost as our third permanent deacon. He and Mary are thrilled to be here.


Deacon Bob Hunt

Deacon Bob Hunt is originally from Northern Virginia. During college, he took a break from his studies to join the Claretian Volunteers, a volunteer organization sponsored by the Claretian Fathers. After a year serving a parish in the bootheel of Missouri, he made his way to Memphis, Tennessee to work for a summer at Joseph Leppert Catholic Worker. Deacon Bob decided to stay in Memphis, where he met and wed his beautiful wife, Margaret, in 1989. They have three daughters and one grandchild with another on the way.

Deacon Bob graduated with a BA in History and in Philosophy and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Memphis State University. He found his real calling, however, as a Registered Nurse, earning a diploma in nursing from Methodist Hospital School of Nursing. Deacon Bob has worked as an RN for almost thirty years, mostly in pediatrics but currently in behavioral health.

Deacon Bob has been teaching the Catholic faith for over forty years, as a CCD teacher, a teacher at a Catholic high school, an Adult Faith Formation instructor, an RCIA team member, or a homeschooling father. He writes a monthly column for the East Tennessee Catholic and a blog entitled Thoughts and Prayers for the Faithful with a link on the website of the Knoxville Diocese. Deacon Bob was ordained in June 2022. He looks forward to assisting with liturgies and with catechesis at Holy Ghost.