Pope Accepts Resignation Of Springfield-Cape Girardeau Bishop Leibrecht, Names Knoxville Chancellor To Succeed Him
WASHINGTON—Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Bishop John J. Leibrecht, 77, as Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and named Father J. Vann Johnston Jr., 48, chancellor of the Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee, to succeed him.
The resignation acceptance and the appointment were announced in Washington, January 24, by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Bishop-elect Johnston, a native of Knoxville, was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Knoxville in 1990.
James Vann Johnston Jr. was born October 16, 1959. He attended St. Joseph School in Knoxville, Knoxville Catholic High School and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. He later attended St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana where he earned a master of divinity degree. He attended graduate school from 1994-1996 at The Catholic University of America where he earned a licentiate in canon law.
After ordination, Father Johnston held several parochial assignments in the diocese. He was associate pastor, St. Mary's Church, Oak Ridge, July 1990-July 1992; associate pastor St.
Jude Parish, Chattanooga and chaplain and teacher, Notre Dame School, July 1992-July 1994; associate pastor, Holy Ghost Church, Knoxville, July 1996-June 2001. In 1996, he was named diocesan chancellor and in December 2001, was given the additional responsibilities of moderator of the curia. From 2007, he also served as pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Church, Alcoa.
The Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese includes 25,719 square miles. The total population of the diocese is estimated at 1,226,079 people, with 64,714 of them Catholic.