From the Pastor

Pentecost, 2021

Dear parishioners and visitors:

This is an important weekend here at Immaculate Conception Church.  The full text of Bishop Stika’s most recent decree is in the bulletin and on the website.  Below please find a summary for the implementation of that decree here at Immaculate Conception.

The obligation to attend Mass in person returns into effect.  Here are the following exceptions:
1.	Those who are ill, 
2.	Those who have reason to believe they were recently exposed to COVID- 
        19 or another serious or contagious illness
3.	Those who are confined to their homes or those with underlying health       
4.	those in a high-risk category
5.	those who have significant fear or anxiety of COVID-19 exposure 

…are exempt from this obligation to attend Mass in person.  Of course, those are invited to pray with us in the live streamed Mass from home.  

The required social distance between households is reduced from 6 feet to 3 feet.  To that end, you will notice that our pews have been reorganized.  Please only sit in pews where you will have the green stripe in front of you.  Please do not remove or move the pew ropes.  This means that at communion time, please enter the communion line from whichever aisle your green strip pew opens into... and return as you are able back to your pew through the green side, without moving or removing the red rope.  You may have to walk around for that.   If you have any mobility issues, please know the priest or deacon can 'deliver' communion to you in your pew as you need it.  Simply let the priest or usher know.

I understand that the red and green tape and the ropes may seem confusing, but it helps to maintain social distance, and enables us to have more folks here in the main church.  We are all looking forward to the day when these precautions will be unnecessary.

The wearing of masks is optional.  You may choose to wear a mask or not wear a mask.  If you choose not to wear a mask, please be considerate of other’s social distancing.

At the sign of peace, please keep socially distanced.

You must sanitize your hands as you approach to receive Holy Communion.  If you desire communion on the tongue, please come up for Holy communion after everyone else has received; please know the minister of communion will need to sanitize their hands between each communicant.

We will remain livestreaming the 8:15am and the 10am Masses into the future.  If you are homebound any given Sunday, please remember that you can pray with us using that option.

Thank you so very much for your patience and kindness to one another during this difficult time.

Fr. Charlie
Blessed Palm Sunday, Triduum, and Easter!

Hello Immaculate Conception Folks!

In these days of COVID-tide, we remember the Triumph of the Cross and the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ...

What a year and what a Lent it has been. 

While we all wait and pray that this pandemic lifts and our virtuous habits, vaccinations, and safe-yet-social distancing help alleviate the spread and sufferings of so many folks, we still remember and mark this holiest of weeks.

We have made some changes for the ability for more folks to be in the Upper Church at liturgies.  Thanks in advance to our Knights of Columbus for helping and ushering for us all!

*The side aisle and wing seats are open with every other pew blocked off.

*Both sets of center pews (also with every other pew blocked) alternate between "green on the outside and red on the inside" and vice versa in the open pews. More than one household can now be in a pew, with two sets of green... Thank you to Mark and Marilyn Reda for their work.

*We need to maintain a minimum of three feet between households, even if some folks are vaccinated. 

*Masks remain required at all times throughout the liturgies with the simple exception of that moment when you receive the Eucharist.
*If you do wish to receive communion on the tongue please wait until everyone else has received and please remember that the Priest or Deacon will need to sanitize his hands after each recipient.

Please keep in your prayers John, Bailey, and Samantha who will be welcome fully into the Church at the Easter Vigil!  Please consider sending a card or note of encouragement for them either by leaving it in the Church Lobby or emailing a note that I will forward to them at 

Please know too that there will be no 12:10pm daily Mass Tuesday of Holy Week as that afternoon will be the annual Chrism Mass at the Cathedral.

Of course we don't know, but many folks who have been away from Church may come back / visit in person these Holy Days.  Let us be "extra welcoming" as our seating and COVID precautions may be confusing to newcomers.

Please see the liturgy times for Holy Week on the flyer above.  We hope you can join us either live or online.

God willing we'll be back outside celebrating and marking these days next year!

Gratefully, and ...  

Peace be with you!

Fr. Charlie


Blessed Saint Patrick's Day!

I was able to greet a reporter from WATE and Jack Neely the Executive Director of the Knoxville History Project today at IC. 

The Knoxville History Project and WATE were here today filming a story for tonight's news broadcasts on the history of the Knoxville Irish.

Additionally, the Knoxville History Project is having a webinar Thursday at 6pm -7:15 pm: "St. Patrick's Day: The Irish in Knoxville."  You can register to attend the zoom meeting here:

"St. Patrick’s Day is virtual this year, but we’ll make the best of it. If you’re not hung over from too much green beer at home, join us on the day after, which we like to consider the second day of St. Patrick’s Season, March 18, at 6, for a discussion of the Knoxville Irish, who arrived in multiple waves, including one very big one. We’ll talk about some Irish revolutionaries who sought refuge in Knoxville (one of whom is considered a legend back home); Knoxville’s first Irish-Catholic mayor, whose astonishing post-mayoral career makes him memorable for other reasons; the saloonkeeper who helped found a major hospital; and the now-forgotten part of the city once known as Irish Town, one part of which survives, unrecognized, today."

As Lent continues, please know of all the staff's prayers for all of you!

Gratefully, and ...  

Peace be with you!

Fr. Charlie
Keeping in Touch - Lent Begins Wednesday 2/17/2021

It is hard to believe that I am writing the words “Lent begins this week…”

What an eventful time the past months have been with elections, the pandemic, and the regular “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” as Shakespeare wrote all those years ago.

In a passage from 1 Kings (17:2-5) there is a beautiful yet difficult image of the Prophet Elijah in the desert.  It simply says “ The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook…”

We often think of ravens as dark, big, and scavenging birds.  We like doves and songbirds.  But for Elijah, and sometimes for us, God sends ravens.  These days as the pandemic continues to plague our planet, we can think of benign fed by ravens.  So much of culture and our economy is driven to alleviate suffering and that is a good thing and a blessing.  But as we know from the beatitudes, it is the suffering that find themselves most blessed.  In our care for one another and ourselves, we need to be open to be fed by the ravens, even if we wish it was white doves…

There are a number of great opportunities to connect with each other and pray together this Lent here at Immaculate Conception.  All through this bulletin you’ll see ways to connect.

One of the aspects of this pandemic, is the isolation that has become commonplace.  We hope to offer ways to connect and pray both with physical presence and virtual / computer gatherings.

“Be not afraid” to let the ravens feed you!

While the Paulist Appeal and Bishop's Appeal are ongoing and we are grateful for your participation, all of here at IC are excited to begin this important season for our Faith...

*Wednesday, 2/17/21 is Ash Wednesday.  Our Masses with Ashes are 12:10pm and 7pm.  All are welcome and both will be livestreamed and recorded on the link below.

*Each Friday at 7pm in Lent we will have the Stations of the Cross prayer service.  The first, February 19th, will be recorded and livestreamed.  This service will be available throughout Lent on the website.  Future Stations of the Cross will be live at IC but not livestreamed.

*The Annual "Little Black Book for Lent" is available in the vestibule of the Church.

*One of Lenten offerings over the next five weeks is that one of the five of us preachers, Frs Tim, Jim, and myself, as well as Deacons Joe and Doug will offer homilies at all the Masses each weekend.  This will give a chance for the community to all hear the same message and get to know each of us and our faith journeys in a deeper way, as well as helping us appreciate the flavor, movements, and assemblies of the faithful as well as we all help each other grow in Grace this Lent. 

*And there are more opportunities for involvement in the bulletin from this past weekend... Link here:

This coming weekend, as usual, our Masses are: Saturday Vigil at 5:00pm, Sunday Morning at 8:15, 10, and 11:45am.  As usual both the 8:15 & 10am Masses will be live streamed and available later at our usual link:

Gratefully, and ...  

Peace be with you!

Fr. Charlie
Keeping In Touch, Friday February 5, 2021

On this Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time our diocese is launching commitment weekend of the Bishop's Appeal as well as our national and local culture are also marking "Super Bowl Sunday" as well as our parish's Haiti Fest!

In the midst of all of that (+ any busy-ness you may have in the areas of your life) we briefly meet one woman in our Gospel who is, in my view, one of the most important woman in our church's history and development.

We know her only as "Peter's Mother in law," but she impacts EVERYTHING!  What did she do?  She let Jesus heal her and she made him lunch.

We don't meet her again in scripture.  We just get a glimpse in the Gospel According to Mark (Mk 1:29-39)

But as you keep reading Mark, you'll notice something: so much from then on out happens at her house.

She lives in Capernaum.  From then on when the Gospel says that 'Jesus went home,' it is her house in Capernaum that they are talking about.

When Jesus is teaching a crowd, all bustled into that house, this is where the famous friends rip a hole in her roof to lower their friend down to be at the feet of Jesus and be healed.

To use the phrase and song from the musical "Hamilton," it is Peter's Mother in law's house that hosts "the room where it happened..."

Let Jesus in your life, let him heal you, and wake you up.  Your life will change for the better, and other's lives will be changed too.  You might though, get a hole in your roof!

While the Paulist Appeal is ongoing, this coming weekend we participate in the Annual Bishop's Appeal.  

As usual, our Masses are: Saturday Vigil at 5:00pm, Sunday Morning at 8:15, 10, and 11:45am. 

As usual both the 8:15 & 10am Masses will be live streamed and available later at our usual link:

If you won't be at Immaculate Conception this weekend, please still take a look at the bulletin. There are a lot of great things still happening!

We hope you'll participate in our Haiti Fest Drive thru Mardi Gras this Saturday and Sunday!  THERE IS STILL TIME TO ORDER! Please do so as soon as possible.

On Sat., Feb. 6, and Sun., Feb. 7, you can pick up a delicious authentic Mardi Gras meal for just $15.

Don’t like Caribbean food? Can’t participate? We welcome your generous donation.

Here are the meal choices: 1. Ribs, Haitian red beans, rice, rum or pineapple cake 2. Gumbo (meat or vegetarian), rice, rum or pineapple cake Call Carol or Gerry O’Farrell at 691-7392 to place your order. (Leave message).

Meanwhile, please keep the good folks in Fond des Blancs and the nation of Haiti in your prayers!

Gratefully, and ...  

Peace be with you!

Fr. Charlie
Keeping In Touch, Friday January 29, 2021

As we prepare to celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary time, we'll hear in our second reading from First Corinthians: 
                        Brothers and sisters:
              I should like you to be free of anxieties.

And these words, Paul's prayer, is apropos for our day and time.  
As we strive for public safety, health and healing, and the well being of all, we know how much Grace and God is needed in our common life and society.
 I still struggle with the knowledge that in our area hospitals there are many suffering and working to care for the sick in a lonely way as the charism of "visiting the sick" is curtailed for the common good.  This all breaks this hospital chaplain's heart.  Pray with me for all those who are facing this and any illness, even terminal ones, alone

While the Paulist Appeal that we spoke about last week is ongoing, this coming weekend also kicks off the Annual Bishop's Appeal.  Father Tim will preach at all the masses reminding us of how connected we are to so many others in our community.

I'll never forget my first "ride-along" as a new Knoxville Police Department Chaplain.  Officer Sean Sakovitch took me all through my old parish area around Saint John XXIII.  He took me to where the homeless are, where different disadvantaged folks congregate to survive, where some robberies may happen, and other aspects to what had been invisible to me as a gregarious campus minister.  It really opened my eyes to the local needs of all!

As usual, our Masses are: Saturday Vigil at 5:00pm, Sunday Morning at 8:15, 10, and 11:45am. 

As usual both the 8:15 & 10am Masses will be live streamed and available later at our usual link:

If you won't be at Immaculate Conception this weekend, please still take a look at the bulletin. There are a lot of great things still happening!

And you can also take a look at the 2021 Annual Bishop's Appeal brochure:

Lastly, getting to know a new parish is usually hard anyway, but with COVID it is difficult, with the masks and other distancing protocols it is hard to get to know folks!  But...

I am grateful for the warm welcome I have received since my arrival even in this difficult time of COVID.

Gratefully, and ...  

Peace be with you!

Fr. Charlie
Keeping In Touch, Friday January 22, 2021

As we prepare to celebrate the Third Sunday of Ordinary time, we are also celebrating the Paulist Fathers patronal feast. The feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle falls this year on Monday, January 25th.

We know that we have much to pray about, be challenged by, and be grateful for.
Father Jim Haley will preach at all the Masses this weekend, our Annual Paulist Appeal, focused on the Paulist charism and how we can all participate with it and support in it in different ways.  

You should have received, or will soon receive, a Paulist Appeal brochure and reply card from our National Office.  We hope you'll be generous and continue to pray for the all the Paulists who have served here and may yet still!

There will be a special event with all the Paulist foundations around the country and in Rome.

Monday Night, January 25th will be our national Paulist Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul On-Line Gala/Show!  Links will be on the website, and facebook pages.  Please join us - You’ll see some familiar faces!

Saturday Vigil at 5:00pm, Sunday Morning at 8:15, 10, and 11:45am. 

As usual both the 8:15 & 10am Masses will be live streamed and available later at our usual link:

If you won't be at Immaculate Conception this weekend, please still take a look at the bulletin. There are a lot of great things still happening!

Lastly, if you like NFL Football and not just NCAA and the Vols, say a prayer for the safety and well being of the players in the Packers v Tampa Bay game this Sunday.  I have followed the Packers for a while.  Their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers was the quarterback at the University of California Berkeley when I was campus minister there.  It always impressed me how he took time not just for the fans. He took his role as a campus leaders seriously.  He was present for and encouraging for the students at Berkeley outside of the sports-y stuff.  He'd be supportive of the chess team and work to affirm and lift up folks in all walks of life.  It has been neat to see him grow over the years.  This is one of the great things about my life with the Paulists in university ministry for 15 years.  There are so many not-as-young-as-used-to-be folks making their way in the world, and changing it for the better.

I am grateful for the warm welcome I have received since my arrival even in this difficult time of COVID.

Gratefully, and ...  

Peace be with you!

Fr. Charlie
1/7/21: Keeping In Touch

I am trying out new email software for our "Keeping In Touch" communications.  If you would like to be added to our email list, please send me an email at

As we prepare to celebrate the Baptism of the Lord this coming weekend, we know that we have much to pray about, be challenged by, and be grateful for.
Due to COVID and related precautions, this past week here at Immaculate Conception we have had to cancel events and even Masses, but we will be open this weekend and celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. 

While there will not be a Saturday 8:30am Mass 1/9, beginning Saturday evening all our regular Masses will be as usual:

Saturday Vigil at 5:00pm, Sunday Morning at 8:15, 10, and 11:45am. 

As usual both the 8:15 & 10am Masses will be live streamed and available later at our usual link:

Please know as well that daily Mass will resume Monday 1/11 through Friday 1/15, and Saturday 1/16 at 8:30am, and God willing that will be ongoing!

I do have four prayer requests:

1. Four our nation and all its peoples that justice and peace may reign.

2. In gratitude for the service, zeal, and priesthood of Fr. Ron Franco, as he prepares to leave Knoxville.

3. For the Paulist Fathers Formation Community as I do my best to lead them on their Winter Retreat this weekend.  Given that I am participating via ZOOM, I ask doubly for your prayers! 

4. For the repose of the soul of Clete Walles who passed away this past week, and the consolation of his family.

I am grateful for the warm welcome I have received since my arrival even in this difficult time of COVID.

I look forward to being at Immaculate Conception next week to finally celebrate the Sacred Mysteries with you!

Peace be with you!

Fr. Charlie
1/4/21: Keeping in Touch - Memorial of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Happy and blessed Monday, January 4th.

I am very grateful for Bishop Stika and other visiting priests to preside at Immaculate Conception Masses this past Epiphany weekend.

As you are aware one of the Paulist Fathers does indeed have COVID and the other Paulist Fathers are taking precautions to not spread the disease.  We will of course keep you posted as that progresses.  

Please know that weekday Masses at Immaculate Conception are cancelled this week through Saturday.  God willing, we will celebrate our regular Masses for the coming weekend.

We appreciate your prayers and offer them for you, too!

January 4 is also the Memorial of Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton.  This is fitting today, as illness and quarantines informed St. Elizabeth's life of faith.  It was on a ship docked and quarantined in Italy that St. Elizabeth cared for her husband as he and others died from tuberculosis.  That experience brought her into contact with some wonderful and kind Italian Catholics that indeed changed her life.

As a young widow and mother, upon her return to New York she pursued becoming Roman Catholic and in the coming years and decades she made quite a mark on what it meant to be both American and Roman Catholic.

There is a great article from 2019 on St. Elizabeth by the prolific author Elizabeth Scalia that you might find helpful and wonderful:

In the meanwhile, please be assured of the Paulist Fathers prayers for you these hard days.

Great peace,

Fr. Charlie
1/1/21: A Kinder and Gentler 2021

A blessed New Year to you and your families!

This is Fr. Charlie Donahue, CSP, grateful to be stepping in as your Pastor at Immaculate Conception.

I did just arrive here in Knoxville, completing my Paulist Missionary work in Columbus, OH, in campus ministry with The Ohio State University.

As you may have heard, both a staff member and one of the Knoxville Paulists are indeed positive with COVID-19.  All the Knoxville Paulists are in quarantine until we are all test negatively.  We will keep you posted along the way, and update you as best we can.

Thanks to some of our great Priest brothers and Bishop Stika, our Mass schedule this weekend remains in tact.  We Paulists are grateful to the IC staff for their support as well.

Please know that the Church and offices will be closed except for Saturday evening and Sunday Masses, at least until January 8th.

I have been looking forward to my first weekend as Pastor and could not have expected this, but as we all know too well, this disease is wreaking havoc on our world and our community's health care infrastructure.  We thank God for all the amazing people working for the health and well being of one another, and I urge you to take all necessary precautions in your daily life.

As I write this, we are celebrating the New Year Faast of Mary, the Mother Of God and preparing for the Feast of the Epiphany this weekend.

So let's all pray with Our Lady Health of the Sick for a swift end to this pandemic and for all our resilience and community support along the way.

God bless you!

Fr. Charlie