A Brief Account of the History of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Jefferson City, TN
—From A History of the Diocese of Knoxville (2010)
By 1991 Catholics in Jefferson City had been meeting for Mass for about a year in the George Street Methodist Church. Previously, Catholics had to drive fifteen miles to St. Patrick’s Church in Morristown for Mass.
The community was established in July 1990 by St. Patrick pastor Father Philip Thoni with permission from Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell. Before long the new parish had an organ, an altar, a ciborium, a tabernacle, and vestments stored in the home of parishioners Dan and Nancy Fisher. The parish also has acquired forty acres of land on Highway 92 just outside Jefferson City, with help from the Catholic Foundation of East Tennessee, and was raising money to build the church. At that point still without a formal name, the Jefferson County Catholic community already had more than 100 families, and the number of Catholics in the county was increasing rapidly because of its popularity as a retirement area.
In spring 1994 Bishop O’Connell chose Holy Trinity as the name of the new parish in Jefferson City.
“The congregation chose the name,” he said. “They wanted something that would relate to the Lord, that would be distinct.”
The bishop said that parishioners sent him some variations of the name and that he picked Holy Trinity.
By fall 1994 the parish had saved about $305,000 toward construction of its own church.
On October 29, 1994, standing on a windswept hill above Highway 92, Bishop O’Connell broke ground for the new church. The bishop sprinkled holy water along chalk outlines indicating the walls of the future church. Parishioners erected a 10-foot-tall cross where the altar would be, and Bishop O’Connell placed the first spadeful of dirt at the base of the cross. Holy Trinity and St. Patrick pastor Father Michael Sweeney invited others to follow suit, and each parishioner placed a spadeful of dirt to support the cross.
Holy Trinity’s mother parish, St. Patrick’s, gave a “beautiful example of Church,” Bishop O’Connell said at the ground-breaking.
“Even though there is a sadness about leaving St. Patrick, the parish has been very generous helping out with religious education, they have helped out with the financial support, and so they have in a sense endowed this new beginning parish. This doesn’t always happen.”
Holy Trinity’s 140 families left George Street United Methodist Church after six years on Dec. 7, 1996, for the first Mass in their new church. The two-story building has more than 10,000 square feet and includes an altar built by parishioners. Father Sweeney said the $500,000 building project was completed under budget.
Bishop Michael F. McAuliffe of the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri, dedicated the new church on Feb. 23, 1997. Bishop O’Connell, once a priest in Bishop McAuliffe’s diocese, assisted him. Almost 350 people—including a dozen priests, two deacons, two women religious, Chancery staff, and friends throughout the diocese—packed the church to witness the rite of dedication let by the two bishops.
On January 20, 2001, St. Patrick’s Church hosted a 25th-anniversary celebration for its Knights of Columbus council that also doubled as a celebration of the formation of Council 12838 at Holy Trinity. New Holy Trinity Grand Knight Ken Schroer and the other council officers were installed the same day. Bishop Joseph E. Kurtz celebrated Mass, and a dinner-dance concluded the evening’s events. St. Patrick Grand Knight Frank Carballo gave Mr. Schroer a check for $2,500 as the first installment of a $10,000 gift to be used as start-up money for the new council.
Bishop Kurtz blessed a new rectory for Holy Trinity on Feb. 19, 2005. The rectory…sits on a perch on the ridge above the church.
In 2008 a new parish life center was built to accommodate a new church office and parish hall.