St. Thérèse of Lisieux Catholic Church - A Parish of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville
Meet Our Priests
Fr.  Michael F. Nolan

Meet Father Michael F. Nolan


The Rev. Mr. David Gruseck is our new Deacon.  Deacon Dave is a native of Pittsburgh, Pa.  In August, 2013, he will celebrate 45 years of marriage to Kathleen. They have three grown children and eleven grandchildren ranging in age from 10 to 21 years of age . It was the movement of most of their family to South Carolina and Mississippi that began their exploration of Eastern Tennessee as an option for resettlement.

 In 1999 at the age of 52 Deacon Dave was ordained to the Diaconate for service to the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Pa.  For the first six years following ordination he served at Risen Lord Parish, a merger of three urban parishes, on the North side of Pittsburgh.  Following his retirement from his 33-year career as a History teacher and coach in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, he and his wife moved to the Butler/Prospect area of Western Pennsylvania, a rural community about 45 minutes north of Pittsburgh.  Following relocation he was assigned to work on special projects for the Butler Deanery of the Diocese and to St. Christopher Parish, a community of about 300 families, for Word and Sacrament.  He served nearly eight years in that position in a broad range of ministries.

After relocating to Tennessee, Deacon Dave offered his services as a Deacon to the Diocese of Knoxville, who accepted and asked him to serve at St. Therese of Lisieux.  He has been with us since Easter,2013.

      Fr. Joseph Thomas, CMI
 Meet Father Joseph Thomas of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate

The Boy
Joseph Thomas was born in the southern area of India, in the state of Kerala in 1960.  He is one of five children, having three brothers and one sister.  The family's Catholic faith is steeped in tradition and the children were all raised in the Roman Catholic faith, with strict Catholic values being asserted by parents, teachers and clergy alike, during their upbringing.
The Young Man
As his traditional Catholic upbringing began to mold Joseph Thomas, the young man, he began to plan his destiny.  Upon graduation from high school, he studied shorthand and quickly landed a job as a stenographer.  After years of work in this profession, Joseph felt a calling to do help more.  He developed a real desire to do missionary work, and so, in 1986, 26-year old Joseph Thomas entered the seminary of the Carmelite order of Mary Immaculate. 
The Carmelites
The Carmelites of Mary Immaculate were established in India in 1831 and currently has a membership of more than 1,500 priests and 10 bishops, presiding over five dioceses in India.  While still involved with evangelical work, the order tends to caring for the poor as well as providing education and social work for the more marginalized sections of society in particular.  The Carmelites are currently involved with ministries throughout India and abroad.
The Priest
After twelve years, having received credit for his previous degree, Joseph Thomas, became "Father Joseph Thomas - C.M.I." on December 30th 1998.  He also earned a Bachelor of Philosophy degree and a Bachelor of Theology degree during this period.  Father Joseph's assignment, as a new priest in the Diocese of Rajkot, was one as a social worker.  However, Father Joseph had a special interest in construction management, even though none of his formal education was centered on engineering.
The Move to the United States
On June 15th 2007 Father Joseph Thomas was given an assignment of a different sort.  "...Go to the United States of America and assist with work at Our Lady of Annunciation parish in Albuquerque, New Mexico..."  Father Joseph grew familiar with the New Mexico lifestyle and the spiritual needs of those parishioners of Our Lady of Annunciation until, on April 9th 2009, he was transferred once again.  This time he was to become the pastor at Saint Rose of Lima parish in Santa Rosa, New Mexico.  This would prove to be challenging and just the type of assignment Father Joseph would enjoy, as the assignment involved renovating the Saint Rose of Lima church to accommodate the needs of that parish.  And Father Joseph’s education and construction management background proved to be a great asset to his new American parish.  In a parish where the weekly collections might be only $2,500.00, he set out to raise money.  And raise money, he did!  The parish of Saint Rose of Lima...that Father Joseph calls "one big family"... under the guidance of their new pastor was able to raise more than $550,000.00 for the renovation of their church, a beautiful traditional stone building located on South 3rd Street in Santa Rosa.  This accomplishment clearly resonates with Father Joseph as he speaks of his time in New Mexico. 
The Diocese of Knoxville
Father Joseph, with peace of mind that he was now forever engrained as a member of the Saint Rose of Lima family, received his new direction.  On June 15th 2012, he was directed to the Diocese of Knoxville under the leadership of Bishop Richard Stika, where he was assigned to the Sacred Heart Cathedral.  Father Joseph was elated to work in his new diocese, as there were several other priests from the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate working in the same diocese.  However, he was also experiencing some reservations.  East Tennessee was completely different than New Mexico.  But this priest, who believes strongly in and is an advocate of the power of prayer, did what he does best...he prayed.  Then in October, when he was told he would become the new pastor at Holy Family church in Seymour, Tennessee, he realized that this was his calling...what his prayers led him to.  And even when others related that he might lose some parishioners who chose to follow other avenues within the diocese, he relied on prayer to answer that out.  "After praying on the subject, I have come to the realization that we, as Catholics, should be looking towards and following Christ, and no one else" Father Joseph related in his soft spoken voice, while sitting in his office in the Family Life Center.  "Look at His face...not mine...both spiritually and physically!"
We now welcome Fr. Joseph Thomas to St. Therese of Lisieux Parish as of July 1, 2014.
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