Father Bill McNeeley, Pastor
Fr. Bill McNeeley grew up in Norris, TN. Before entering seminary, he served in the United States Navy and earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. He and his wife Sherri were married in 1980 and are the parents of three grown children and four grandchildren. In 1985 he received a Master of Divinity degree and was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church.
Over the next fifteen years as an Anglican priest, Fr. Bill became disillusioned with the moral and theological decline in the Episcopal Church, and by the year 2000, he could not recognize the church in which he was raised. Nevertheless, he always had a hunger for the history and theology of the early church. He took annual retreats at the Abbey of Gethsemani and felt increasingly drawn to the Catholic Church. One day he checked out a copy of The Catechism of the Catholic Church from the local library. That evening, after reading for about 15 minutes, he looked over to his wife, Sherri, and said, “Hey! This is what they were supposed to teach us in seminary!” Over the next couple of weeks, he read the whole Catechism and was hooked.
In October 2000, he resigned from his parish in middle Tennessee and moved his family home to Knoxville. He was received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil in 2001. Over the next several years, he continued his studies and pursued the “Pastoral Provision,” a process for ordained ministers of protestant churches to be reconciled with the Catholic Church. Finally, on March 21, 2005, his petition for ordination was presented by Cardinal Ratzinger to St. John Paul II on their last work session before the Holy Father died. The petition was approved, and Fr. Bill was ordained a Catholic priest on June 3, 2007.
Since then, he has served in several parishes in the Knoxville area, most recently at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Alcoa, where he was an associate pastor for eight years. Next, he was assigned as pastor of Holy Ghost Church in Knoxville, where he enjoys the most fruitful and rewarding ministry of his career. “Being at Holy Ghost Church has been like restoring a beautiful antique. A little hard work and collaboration with the lay leadership have paid off nicely.” In addition to repairs to the roof and upgrading the sound and camera systems, the side altars for Sts. Mary and Joseph were painted with gold leaf décor added that enhanced the beauty of our church as it has our faith in Jesus Christ. Under Fr. Bill’s leadership Holy Ghost Church continues to support home school ministry and serve as a haven for “All things traditional.” One can see this in its music and liturgy, including the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. The parish is also very diverse, including a sizeable and very active Hispanic community and even a small but growing African community that celebrates Mass monthly in their native Swahili.
With the centennial of our present church building just five years away, Fr. McNeeley’s goal is to help Holy Ghost Church catch up on years of deferred maintenance while upgrading and improving its facilities to position this parish for the next 100 years of ministry.
Father Michael Hendershott, S.T.L.
Father Michael Hendershott was born in Johnson City, Tennessee, and he grew up in Farragut with his five sisters and two brothers. St. John Neumann Catholic Church was his home parish. In the Fall of 2007, he entered the seminary for the Diocese of Knoxville. The then-Bishop Joseph E. Kurtz sent him to study philosophy at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After four years of college seminary, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy.
Then Bishop Richard F. Stika sent him to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis for one year of theology and then to the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy for four more years of theology school. In June 2014, he completed a Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) and then in June 2016 he completed a Licentiate of Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) with a specialization in Dogmatic Theology at The Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (The Angelicum).
Father Michael Hendershott was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ on the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, June 27, 2015. He is blessed to serve full-time at Holy Ghost Catholic Church.
Deacon Gordy Lowery
Deacon 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 Scott Maentz
Deacon Scott was raised in Holland, Michigan. Career moves brought him to many places around the country and he settled in Tennessee in 2001 with his wife Christine. They have five children and fourteen grandchildren.
He assists the Diocese of Knoxville with communications and video production. He was ordained a permanent deacon in June 2016 at Sacred Heart Cathedral by Bishop Richard F. Stika.
His primary ministry is to the homeless, heading up the Knoxville Bridge Ministry for the diocese, which serves a hot lunch monthly at the Knox Area Rescue Ministries (KARM) outdoor courtyard in downtown Knoxville. You can learn more about Deacon Scott at his website, deaconscott.com, where he publishes his homilies and other items of interest to him.