Diocesan priests celebrating milestone anniversaries in 2023

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

As Father Augustine Mang and Father Oscar A. Romero Avelino celebrate being the newest priests of the Diocese of Nashville, the Tennessee Register wants to take the time to recognize our long-time priests of the diocese who have or will be celebrating milestone anniversaries of their ordination in 2023.

Celebrating 35 Years

Father Kyabuta

Father Jean Baptiste Kyabuta, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Madison, will celebrate 35 years in the priesthood on Aug. 14.

Ordained a priest in Manono, Congo, in 1988, he came to the Diocese of Nashville in 2007, where he was assigned pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Decherd, and St. Margaret Mary Mission Church in Alto. He has also served as chaplain for Knights of Columbus Council 3431 in Winchester and Fourth Degree Assembly 1742 in Tullahoma.

Father Kyabuta’s station in the diocese became official in 2008 when the late Bishop David Choby wrote a letter to Bishop Vincent de Paul Kwanga of Manono in gratitude for allowing Father Kyabuta to remain with the diocese.

Father Kyabuta was assigned to St. Joseph in 2017. He and Amy Lavender, principal of St. Joseph School, were recognized at the 2022 Advancement in Catholic Education Awards Event for their partnership with the Exemplary Leadership Award.

Father Abraham Panthalanickal

• Father Abraham Panthalanickal, pastor of St. Christopher Church in Dickson, was ordained a priest 35 years ago on Dec. 29, 1988.

Ordained at St. Joseph Church in Panathady, India, he arrived in Nashville in 2004, serving as associate pastor of St. Pius X Church and Church of the Assumption for his first five years. From 2009 until 2014, he served as pastor of St. Lawrence Church in Joelton, before returning to India. Father Panthalanickal returned to the diocese in 2018 and served as associate pastor of St. Edward Church. He later became pastor of St. Pius X in 2020.

In 2022, he was assigned pastor of St. Christopher Church in Dickson.

Prior to his arrival in Nashville, Father Panthalanickal received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kerala. He successfully passed language courses in English and Malayalam, as well as in philosophy, sociology, and general economics.

Celebrating 40 Years

Father Mundakal

• Father Joseph Mundakal, CMI, was ordained a priest in his native India, on May 12, 1983, after which he completed an educational degree and ran many schools in India.

Father Mundakal came to the United States in 1991, first serving in the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois, before coming to the Diocese of Nashville to be part of the Carmel Spirituality Center in Liberty, Tennessee.

His assignments in the diocese have included associate pastor of St. Joseph Church in Madison, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Loretto and St. Joseph Church in St. Joseph, and chaplain of Knights of Columbus Council 4947. Following a brief time where he returned to the Diocese of Joliet, Father Mundakal continued his service in Nashville in 2008 as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Lawrenceburg.

In 2021, he was appointed administrator of St. Francis Assisi Church in Dover, and was officially made pastor, along with St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Tennessee Ridge in 2022.

He will assume his new appointment as pastor of St. Frances Cabrini Church in Lebanon on June 26.

Father Mundakal is well-versed in many arts, having taught many subjects while serving at schools in India, including English, social studies, religion, photography, and music. He is also a skilled saxophonist.

Father George Panthananickal

• Father George Panthananickal, CMI, was ordained in India, as a member of the Congregation of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, on May 13, 1983.

He has served in the Diocese of Nashville since March 2013 when he was assigned as pastor of St. Anthony Church in Fayetteville, and Immaculate Conception Church in Pulaski.

Father George Panthananickal holds two master’s degrees, one in theology and one in education, as well as a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.

• Father Stephen Klasek will celebrate 40 years of priesthood on July 9, 1983.

He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Nashville by the late Bishop James D. Niedergeses on July 9, 1983, at the Cathedral of the Incarnation.

Father Klasek

Following his ordination, Father Klasek served as associate pastor of the Cathedral as well as executive secretary, and later chancellor, of the Diocesan Planning Commission. In 1989, he was assigned pastor of the Church of the Holy Rosary in Donelson and continued in that role while becoming director of planning for the diocese in 1990.

From 1993-1998, Father Klasek served on the Third Presbyteral Council and the College of Consultors. He served five years on the Clergy Personnel Board, and several years on the Priests Vocation Advisory Board.

On July 1, 2008, he was appointed pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Church in Tullahoma, and St. Mark Church in Manchester, where he still serves.

Throughout his service, Father Klasek has remained humble, even from the time of planning his ordination Mass. In a letter sent to Bishop Niedergeses a year before his ordination, he wrote: “I am planning to have a very simple celebration for my ordination. It will be a very demanding day for us all, and I am interested in keeping the focus on the community. … I hope to communicate that an ordination says more about the community than about the person being ordained.”

• Father Joseph Patrick Edwige Carré was ordained in his native, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Oct. 16, 1983.

Father Carré

During his first 22 years of priesthood, Father Carré served as associate pastor, teacher, and pastor at several Haitian churches and schools. During his final assignment in Haiti as pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption in Petit-Goave of the Diocese of Port-au-Prince, he became associated with St. Stephen Catholic Community in Old Hickory through the Parish Twinning Program, which began between the two churches in the early 1990s. 

“The Twinning Program is doing such a good job for the Catholic Church in Haiti, to where I didn’t know  if it could’ve survived without it,” Father Carré said. That relationship is what helped him make a decision about where to settle after being forced to leave Haiti in 2005. 

“My presence here is a thank you for all they did,” he said. “I didn’t know anybody here except my American friends from St. Stephen, but I knew I was in a place where I could feel like home because it was a diocese where people really cared.” 

Upon arriving in Nashville, Father Carré began his ministry as administrator of Holy Name Church in East Nashville, before coming on as pastor in July 2006.

He later served as pastor of St. Ann Church from 2015-2017, until he was appointed administrator of St. Lawrence Church in Joelton in July 2017. He has served as pastor of St. Lawrence since July 2019.

Father Carré was officially incardinated as a priest of the diocese in July 2012, and officially became a naturalized citizen of the United States on Nov. 15, 2013.

Celebrating 45 Years

• Father David R. Perkin was ordained by the late Bishop James D. Niedergeses on July 21, 1978, at Immaculate Conception Church in Knoxville.

Father Perkin

Throughout his priesthood, Father Perkin has served in multiple capacities both in Nashville and Knoxville, until the latter became its own diocese in 1988.

Those assignments include but are not limited to pastor of St. Stephen Catholic Community in Old Hickory and St. Patrick Church in South Nashville. He also served many years as Adjutant Judicial Vicar and Judicial Vicar of the Nashville tribunal, as well as moderator of the Curia and administrative assistant to the late Bishop Edward Kmiec. He later was appointed as Vicar General of the diocese by Bishop J. Mark Spalding on Feb. 22, 2018.

Father Perkin retired from active ministry on June 30, 2018, after successfully fulfilling many years serving the kind of vocation to the priesthood he spoke of in a letter to the diocese prior to entering his formative years studying for the priesthood.

“This past school year has proved to be a decisive one. I spent much time considering an idea which had followed me for years – the idea of total commitment to God, to self, and to man through a religious life or the Holy Priesthood,” he wrote in the letter. “Following serious thought, prayer, and discussion, I decided to face the obvious facts. So, I now seek acceptance by the Diocese of Nashville to study for the Priesthood.”

Celebrating 50 Years

Father Chau

• Father Peter Do Quang Chau, was ordained a priest on May 25, 1973, at the Cathedral of Da Nang in Vietnam by Bishop Peter Maria Pham Ngoc Chi.

For his first two years, he served in many assignments until he was forced to flee Vietnam in 1979, after his assignment as secretary to Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, led to the communists beating him and threatening to jail him because they thought he knew where the Church’s money was, according to a 2019 Tennessee Register story honoring Father Chau’s retirement. He arrived in the United States on Dec. 3, 1979, and one month later was assigned associate pastor of St. Ann Church after reaching out to Bishop Niedergeses, knowing that his family had already previously settled in Cookeville, Tennessee.

During his time at St. Ann Church, he helped grow the Vietnamese Catholic community in Middle Tennessee as the only pastor at the time offering a Mass in their native language.

He officially became a United States citizen on Oct. 29, 1985.

That next year, in 1986, a local publication highlighted Father Chau’s service at St. Ann as well as his efforts to grow a flower and vegetable garden around the perimeter of the church.

Along with his service at St. Ann, Father Chau has also ministered to Parkview and West Side Hospitals in Nashville, was pastor of St. Martha Church in Ashland City on two separate occasions, served as chaplain of the Knights of Columbus Council 11742 in Ashland City, of Aquinas College, and part-time chaplain of St. Thomas Hospital, and director of Vietnamese Ministry until his retirement on July 1, 2019.

He now resides in Cookeville, Tennessee.  

Subscribe to our email list

Keep your finger on the pulse of Catholic life in Middle Tennessee by subscribing to the
weekday E-Register here.

* indicates required