The Diocese of Knoxville comprises the eastern third of Tennessee. It serves sizeable cities as well as many mountain towns in central Appalachia, which boomed with the coal mines years ago and have been shading into the past ever since. Plagued by high unemployment, and substandard housing and education, some Appalachian counties have per capita incomes of $10,000 or less. Here, Catholics are a rare breed. Within the confines of the diocese, on average, only one person in 50 is Catholic, and the percentage is even lower in the rural counties. There are people in the mountains that have never met a Catholic! For years, the diocese has striven to establish a Catholic presence—a parish, a mission, a resident priest or sister, anything— in each of the 36 counties it serves. By 2005, there were still five without such a presence. Besides making the Church visible, the greatest pastoral challenge facing the Diocese of Knoxville is reaching the exploding Hispanic population, as people pour into cities like Chattanooga and Knoxville from Mexico and Central America. There are now more Hispanics in the area, most of them probably Catholic, than there are faithful registered in parishes.
The Diocese of Knoxville has:
- 56,152 Catholics (2% of total population)
- 46 parishes and missions (12 without resident pastor)
- 46 active priests
PO Box 11127
Knoxville, TN 37939