Bishop Spalding announces new assignments for priests

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Bishop J. Mark Spalding has announced assignments for priests, including new pastors or administrators for nine churches in the Diocese of Nashville and the appointment to a new position for the diocese.

Father Austin R. Gilstrap is released from the offices of Director of Vocations and Director of Deacon Formation and is appointed Episcopal Vicar for Education and Formation, with oversight of diocesan offices and ministries supporting Christian education and formation.

He remains pastor of Our Lady of Lake Church in Hendersonville. Upon completion of the licentiate in canon law, he will be appointed a diocesan judge with the Tribunal.

Father Gilstrap, who was ordained in 2015, has also served as a Chaplain and theology teacher at Pope John Paul II Preparatory School, Chaplain of Catholic Media Productions.

Father Luke J. Wilgenbusch, STL, is released from the office of Associate Pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Church. He is appointed Director of Vocations and Director of Deacon Formation, succeeding Father Gilstrap in those roles.

He will be in residence at the Seminarian Formation House and is assigned to provide sacramental assistance to Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Springfield.

Father Wilgenbusch was ordained as a priest for the diocese in 2019. Besides serving as Associate Pastor at Our Lady of the Lake, he also served as Associate Director of the Office of Vocations.

The other assignments, which will all be effective June 27, 2022, include:

Father Andrew J. Bulso, STL, is released from the office of Chaplain of the Catholic Youth Office. He remains pastor of St. Edward Church in Nashville. Upon completion of the licentiate in canon law, he will also be appointed a diocesan judge with the Tribunal.

Father Bulso was ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Nashville in 2015. Before being appointed pastor of St. Edward Church, he served as Associate Pastor of St. Henry Church and as a part-time teacher at Father Ryan High School.

After Deacon Nonso Ohanaka is ordained as a priest of the diocese on Saturday, May 28, he will be appointed Chaplain of the Catholic Youth Office and full-time Chaplain of Pope John Paul II Preparatory School in Hendersonville. He also will be appointed as a part-time Associate Pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Church in Hendersonville.

After Deacon Brent Thayer is ordained as a priest of the diocese on Saturday, May 28, he will be appointed full-time Chaplain of Father Ryan High School in Nashville and Chaplain of Camp Marymount, the Catholic summer camp in Fairview. He will also serve as a part-time Associate Pastor of St. Edward Church in Nashville.

Father John Sims Baker, the pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro, will be released from his offices and responsibilities in the diocese in order to enter St. Bernard Monastery in Cullman, Alabama.

Father Baker was ordained in 1994. Previously he has served as pastor of St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows Church in Nashville, St. Patrick Church in McEwen, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Tennessee Ridge, Associate Pastor at Holy Rosary Church and St. Henry Church in Nashville; and as Chaplain of University

Catholic. He also served as Dean of Community Life and Director for Human Formation at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.

Father Christiano Nunes da Silva, currently the Pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Cookeville, is appointed as pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church for a term of six years. He remains Director of Ongoing Formation of Priests.

Father Nunes da Silva has been serving as the dean of the Northeast Deanery. Because his new assignment will take him outside of the Northeast Deanery, he will be released from that office and will be succeeded as Dean of the Northeast Deanery by Father Jean-Baptiste Kyabuta, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Madison.

Father Nunes da Silva was ordained as a priest of the Diocese of Nashville in 2014. Previously, he served as Associate Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksville.

Father Gervan Menezes is appointed Pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Cookeville for a term of six years. He also is appointed Diocesan Director of Campus Ministries, to oversee and direct university campus ministries throughout the diocese. He currently serves as Chaplain to University Catholic. 

Father Menezes will remain an Episcopal Master of Ceremonies. 

Father Menezes was ordained as a priest of the diocese in 2014. Previously, he served as Chaplain of Father Ryan High School, as Associate Pastor at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Franklin, as Associate Pastor at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, and as the Chaplain of the Catholic Youth Office.

Father Rhodes Bolster, STL, is released from the office of Associate Pastor of St. Philip the Apostle Church in Franklin and is appointed Chaplain of University Catholic in Nashville. He remains an Episcopal Master of Ceremonies and will be in residence at the Cathedral of the Incarnation.

Father Bolster was ordained a priest of the diocese in 2019.

Father Mark Sappenfield is released from the office of Pastor of St. Matthew Church in Franklin and is appointed Associate Pastor of Christ the King Church in Nashville.

Father Sappenfield was ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Nashville in 2008. Previously he served as Associate Pastor and Pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro.

Father Justin N. Raines, STL, is released from the office of Pastor of St. Christopher Church in Dickson and is appointed Pastor of St. Matthew Church in Franklin for a term of six years.

Currently, Father Raines also serves as Dean of the Northwest Deanery. Because he is moving out of the Northwest Deanery, he is released from that office and will be succeeded as Dean by Father Jacob Dio, MSFS, Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksville.

Father Raines was ordained as a priest of the Diocese of Nashville in 2013. Previously he has served as Associate Pastor of Holy Family Church in Brentwood.

Father Abraham Panthalanickal is released from the office of Pastor of St. Pius X Church in Nashville and is appointed Pastor of St. Christopher Church in Dickson for a term of six years.

Father Panthalanickal was ordained as a priest in his native India in 1998. Previously, he served as Associate Pastor at St. Henry, St. Edward, Church of the Assumption and St. Pius X Church and as Pastor of St. Lawrence Church in Joelton.

Father Hung Pham is released from the office of Associate Pastor of St. Ann Church in Nashville and is appointed Pastor of St. Pius X Church in Nashville for a term of six years. He remains chaplain to the Vietnamese Catholic Community in the diocese.

Father Pham was ordained as a priest for the diocese in 2019.

Father Louis Rojas, SAC, is retiring as pastor of St. William Church in Shelbyville.

Father Rojas was ordained as a priest of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate, also known as the Pallottines. Before his ordination as a priest, Father Rojas served as a Pallottine brother for nearly 30 years.

Before coming to the Diocese of Nashville, he served in Mexico, New Jersey and Maryland. He served in the diocese’s Hispanic ministry beginning in 2008, primarily at St. Philip Church in Franklin and St. Catherine Church in Columbia. He was installed as pastor of St. William in 2015.

Father Edwuin Cardona is released from the office of Associate Pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro and is appointed Pastor of St. William Church in Shelbyville for a term of six years.

Father Cardona was ordained as a priest of the Diocese of Nashville in 2019.

Father John Patrick Day, CP, is released from the offices of Pastor of St. Andrew Church in Sparta and St. Gregory Church in Smithville after reaching the canonical age for retirement of pastors. He has been appointed Associate Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksville.

Father Day was ordained a Passionist priest in 1972. He previously has served at parishes in Japan, Illinois and Missouri and was a Chaplain to the Illinois and Missouri state police agencies. He served a previous term as Associate Pastor at Immaculate Conception.

Father Emmanuel Dirichukwu is released from the office of Associate Pastor of St. Stephen Church in Old Hickory and is appointed Administrator of St. Andrew Church in Sparta and St. Gregory Church in Smithville.

Father Dirichukwu was ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Nashville in 2015. He also has served as Associate Pastor at Immaculate Conception in Clarksville.

Father Zachaeus Kirangu is released from the office of Pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Tennessee Ridge. He remains the Pastor of St. Patrick Church in McEwen.

Father Kirangu was ordained in 2003 in his native Kenya. In the Diocese of Nashville, he also has served at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Franklin and as Chaplain of the Serra Club of Williamson County.

Father Joseph Mundakal, CMI, is appointed Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Dover and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Tennessee Ridge, for a term of six years. Father Mundakal has been serving as the Administrator of St. Francis of Assisi Church for the last year.

Father Mundakal was ordained as a priest of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate in 1983 in his native India. He previously served as Associate Pastor of St. Joseph Church in Madison and Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Lawrenceburg, Sacred Heart Church in Loretto and St. Joseph Church in St. Joseph. He also has served at parishes in Joliet and Wheaton, Illinois.

Father Delphinus Mutajuka is appointed Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Loretto and St. Joseph Church in St. Joseph, both in Lawrence County. He has served as Administrator of both churches for the past year.

Father Mutajuka was ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Nashville in 2014. Previously, he served as Associate Pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church and St. Edward Church, a hospital chaplain, and Chaplain of Father Ryan High School.

Father Anthony L. Lopez is appointed to an additional 6-year term as Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Springfield.

Father Lopez was ordained as a priest of the diocese in 2008. Previously, he served as Associate Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Nashville and served the Hispanic Ministry in Maury and Lawrence counties.

Father Jayd D. Neely is appointed to an additional 6-year term as Pastor of St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows Church in Nashville.

Father Neely was ordained as a priest for the diocese in 2012. Previously, he served as Associate Pastor of the Cathedral of the Incarnation.

Father Nicholas Allen is released from the office of Associate Pastor of the Cathedral of the Incarnation and is appointed Associate Pastor of St. Stephen Church in Old Hickory.

Father Allen was ordained as a priest of the diocese in 2008/ Previously he served as Associate Pastor at St. Matthew Church and Administrator and later Pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church. He also served as a part-time Chaplain of Father Ryan High School, and Associate Pastor of St. Philip the Apostle Church in Franklin.

Father Francis Appreh is appointed Chaplain of St. Bernard Academy in Nashville. He remains Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church.

Father Appreh was ordained a priest in in 1996 in his native Ghana. Previously, he has served as a hospital chaplain at Saint Thomas Hospital, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Veterans Administration Hospital in Nashville.

Father Michael Baltrus is appointed Associate Pastor of St. Philip Church in Franklin and is also assigned to provide sacramental assistance at St. Luke Church in Smyrna.

Father Baltrus was ordained a priest of the diocese in 2007. Previously, he served as Associate Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksville, pastor of St. Patrick Church in McEwen, Administrator at

St. Catherine Church in McMinnville, Associate Pastor at St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro, as a spiritual director at the Pontifical Josephinum College in Columbus, Ohio, and providing sacramental assistance at St. Joseph Church in Madison.

Father Juan Carlos Garcia-Mendoza is released from the office of Associate Pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church and is appointed Associate Pastor of St. Philip the Apostle Church.

Father Garcia-Mendoza was ordained as a priest of the diocese in 2020.

Father Cyriac Kurian, CMI, is appointed Associate Pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church.

Father Kurian was ordained a priest in in 1985 in his native India.

Father Paul Nguyen is released from the office of Associate Pastor of St. Edward Church and is appointed Associate Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksville.

Father Nguyen was ordained as a priest of the diocese in 2014. Previously, he served as Associate Pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Cookeville, Associate Pastor of St. Joseph Church in Madison, Administrator of Holy Rosary Church in Donelson, and Pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Loretto and St. Joseph Church in St. Joseph.

Father Anh Tuan Phan is released from the office of Associate Pastor of Christ the King Church in Nashville and is appointed Associate Pastor of the Cathedral of the Incarnation.

Father Phan was ordained as a priest of the diocese in 2018.

Father Javier Suarez is released from the office of Associate Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksville and is appointed Associate Pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro.

Father Suarez was ordained as a priest of the diocese in 2020.

Bishop Spalding gratefully acknowledged Father Tien Tran’s service earlier this year as temporary administrator of St. Matthew Church in Franklin. Father Tran remains permanently assigned as Associate Pastor of St. Matthew Church.

Father Tran was ordained in 2009. Previously he served as Associate Pastor of St. Philip the Apostle Church in Franklin, Pastor of St. Cecilia Church in Waynesboro, Holy Trinity Church in Hohenwald, and Christ the Redeemer Church in Centerville, and as Associate Pastor at St. Joseph Church in Madison.

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