Priest who helped found Diocese of Knoxville dies at 81

Monsignor Francis Xavier Mankel (source: Diocese of Knoxville)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Monsignor Francis Xavier Mankel, a priest who was instrumental in founding the Diocese of Knoxville nearly three decades ago, has died at age 81.

Bishop Richard Stika announced Mankel’s passing on Thursday. Bishop Stika said Monsignor Mankel had been battling health issues in recent months.

Mankel was ordained as a priest in Nashville in 1961. He was a Knoxville native and was lauded as being instrumental in developing the Diocese of Knoxville when it was created by Pope John Paul II in 1988.

“He was a true man of faith, a true priest, and he had a great love for priests. But he also was obedient to the Church,” Bishop Stika said. “I always enjoyed spending time with him. He was a giant, physically because he was a big guy, as well as a giant in the priesthood.”

A parish mass is scheduled on Monday, June 26, at Holy Ghost Catholic Church at 7 p.m. Visitation starts at 2 p.m. The funeral mass will be held the next day at 2 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Knoxville. Visitation will run from 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. Burial will be private, limited to family and priests.

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