clergy

Father David Carter
Reverend J. David Carter, JCL
Rector of the Basilica of Sts. Peter & Paul

Fr. Carter was born in Shreveport, LA but moved with his family when he was young to Knoxville. He is the second of four children. During high school he felt the Lord calling him to the priesthood. After graduation he entered the seminary at Conception Seminary College in Northwest Missouri. Upon graduation there he was sent to the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy. He studied theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University and was ordained on July 1st, 2005. After ordination he was assigned to St. Jude Parish in Chattanooga.

From 2008 till 2010 he was sent again to Rome for graduate studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University where he received his License in Canon Law (JCL). He was then assigned as Vice-Chancellor for Canonical Affairs for the Diocese of Knoxville, Associate Vocation Director and Associate Master of Ceremonies, offices he continues to hold today. From 2010-2013 he was Parochial Vicar at All Saints Parish and was most recently the Chaplain at Knoxville Catholic High School until his assignment to the Basilica. He speaks not only English but also Italian and Spanish. He is also proficient in both Latin and Greek.

Fr. Carter is an Eagle Scout and enjoys hiking and backpacking. Among other adventures he has hiked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Most recently he has earned his Private Pilot's license as a culmination of a boyhood dream. Fr. Carter is very excited about returning to Chattanooga and serving the people of the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. He encourages everyone to pray for an increase of young men answering the call to leave everything to serve the people of God as a priest!

Fr Colin Blatchford
Reverend Colin Blatchford

Fr. Blatchford was born in Bloomington, IN and moved all over the east coast until his family finally settled in Chattanooga. They lived there for eighteen years while he attended boarding high school and completed his undergraduate studies. During that same time his family grew from one sister and two brothers to two sisters and seven brothers. So, despite being born a Yankee, by the grace of God Fr. Blatchford has found his true home in the south.

Fr. Blatchford attended an all-boys Catholic Boarding School called Gregory the Great Academy from 2000-2002. After graduating he went to Ave Maria College, eventually transferring to their interim Naples, FL campus to finish his undergraduate in Philosophy in 2006. He spent four years working and after applying to the Diocese of Knoxville, was sent by Bishop Stika to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary for the Spring 2010 semester to begin his studies.

Upon graduation he was ordained on 31 May 2014 and assigned to work at All Saints Parish in Knoxville. During that time he has worked extensively with the Knoxville Frassati Group and looks forward to working with both the Frassati group and the UTC Catholic center in his new assignment at Sts. Peter and Paul. Fr. Blatchford, while proficient at Latin and Greek, is still learning Spanish. Fr. Blatchford is excited to be coming to what he thinks of as his home town and looks forward to serving the people of the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. He encourages everyone to pray for an increase of young men answering the call to leave everything to serve the people of God as a priest!

Fr Scott Russell
Reverend Scott Russell

Fr. Scott Russell was born in Hendersonville, TN and moved to South Pittsburg, TN with his family when he was 3 years old. He is the second of four children, with the last being born when he was 16 years old. Fr. Scott graduated from high school in 1998 and then attended college at UTC, where he received a B.S. in Psychology in 2003.

It was during college that he first began to experience the call to the priesthood, but did not follow it at the time. Instead, he moved to Dayton, TN where he began working for the Department of Children’s Services in Rhea, Bledsoe, and Meigs counties. He worked in Child Protective Services from January 2004-August 2009, which was when he entered seminary at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana, receiving an M.A. in Catholic Philosophical Studies.

Following his Pre-Theology studies he was transferred to Mundelein Seminary in Chicago, IL where he studied Theology, receiving an M. Div. and Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology. Fr. Scott was ordained a priest on June 27, 2015 and received his first assignment as part-time associate at the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. He is also assigned as the full-time Chaplain at Notre Dame High School and Associate Vocations Director for the diocese. Fr. Scott is excited to be a part of this family at the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul and looks forward to serving in all of his assignments. Fr. Scott asks that all continue to pray for vocations and to encourage the people God is calling to respond to this life of service as a priest. We are called at different points in our lives, but it is up to us to follow where God leads.

Monsignor George Schmidt
Monsignor George E. Schmidt, Jr.
Former Pastor and Rector

Monsignor George Edward Schmidt, Jr. passed away quietly just after 11:00 pm on December 29, 2016.

He was born on April 12, 1944 in Palmer, TN. He was preceded in death by his parents: George Edward Schmidt, Sr. and Maude Goodman Schmidt.

He is survived by his brother, Warren (Diane) Schmidt of Cincinnati, OH and his sister, Martha (Lawrence) Skelly of Lake Ridge, VA. Monsignor Schmidt has two nephews: Lawrence Edward (Eileen) Skelly, III of Oviedo, FL with children Lawrence, Catherine, Shannon, and Brennan; and William Matthew (Stacy) Skelly of Washington, DC with children Liam and Owen. In addition to his siblings' families, Monsignor Schmidt has many cousins in Tennessee and around the country.

Monsignor Schmidt had his early education in Chattanooga, and graduated from Notre Dame High School in 1962. He immediately began his studies for the priesthood in the Fall of 1962. He entered St. Pius X Seminary in Covington, KY, from which he earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1966. He finished his academic preparation when he graduated from Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, LA as a Master of Divinity. He was ordained at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Chattanooga on January 24, 1970. Father Schmidt was named a Monsignor by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011.

Monsignor George spent his life serving the people of Tennessee. Early in his priesthood he was assigned to Nashville, Oak Ridge, and Cleveland. Immediately prior to returning to Chattanooga, he was Associate Pastor of Christ the King in Nashville. He was selected to be Pastor in Chattanooga in 1986 at Sts. Peter and Paul, the church where he was an altar server as a student.

The church building was designated a Minor Basilica in 2011, and Monsignor Schmidt was the first Rector. During his tenure at Sts. Peter and Paul, he led several important projects, which included: painting and redecorating the interior of the structure, renovation of the historic pipe organ, and remodeling the basement from storage to become the Parish Hall. He retired late in 2013, and was named the Rector Emeritus. Following his retirement, he was a resident at the St. Jude Parish Rectory, where he routinely concelebrated the morning Mass with the Pastor, Fr. Charles Burton.

Monsignor Schmidt joined the Knights of Columbus on October 1, 1970, and for 25 years was the Chaplain of the Serra Club of Chattanooga. He additionally served as the Dean of the Chattanooga Deanery.

The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Wednesday, January 4, 2017 at 11:00 am, celebrated by Bishop Richard Stika with nearly 50 attending clergy. Burial was at Priest's Mound of the Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Monsignor George E. Schmidt Scholarship Fund at Notre Dame High School, to the Priest's Retirement Fund of the Diocese of Knoxville, or to Hospice of Chattanooga.

Deacon Gaspar DeGaetano
Deacon Gaspar DeGaetano

Deacon Gaspar was born in 1948 in Brooklyn, a borough of New York City in western Long Island. He grew up there and in the eastern suburbs on the island. He feels that the short break from public schools he had at St Joseph Patron of the Universal Church School in Brooklyn, where he also received his initiation sacraments, was a high point in his education. He studied electrical engineering in Boston and worked for the Long Island utility company. Married in 1971 to Barbara, they settled on Long Island.

In 1979, an offer from TVA to work in their solar energy program in Chattanooga brought them and their children Pam and Joe to Tennessee where they settled in Hidden Harbor and became parishioners at St Jude. Deacon Gaspar has held an engineer's license in both NY and then TN. Already in deacon formation, he retired from TVA's Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in 2004. In 2005, Deacon Gaspar became RCIA coordinator at St Jude until leaving in 2015. He was ordained by the now Archbishop Kurtz in 2007.

Deacon Gaspar is active in prolife activities and likes to preach, preside at holy hours, weddings and baptisms. He and Barbara are very thankful that both Pam and Joe and their families have settled here. Pam, Jesse and their daughter Ellen now also live in Hidden Harbor. Joe, Heather and their daughter Lucie live in north Chattanooga where Joe has his own law practice. Deacon Gaspar and Barbara like to travel and organize pilgrimages. Deacon Gaspar enjoys growing many types of plants in his garden and sunroom.

Deacon Tom McConnell
Deacon Tom McConnell

Deacon Tom McConnell, was born in Charlotte, NC, and raised in the suburb of Mount Holly where he graduated from high school in 1964; a middle child with a younger brother and older sister. He received his commission and a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1968 upon graduation from the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY. He was active in varsity sports and music during his school days both in NC and NY. Deacon Tom holds a Master of Science Degree in Business Administration from Boston University and is a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and the Army War College. He was a Senior Service College Intra-Governmental Fellow with the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration. He married his high school sweetheart, Brenda, on graduation evening in the West Point Cadet Chapel. They spent the next 26 years in the Army living on 3 continents in 5 countries with extensive travel to every European, Central and South American nation as well as many other countries around the world. They have 2 daughters and 2 adopted sons (Korean brothers), and 4 grandchildren. Both daughters, Mary Catherine and Margaret Ann, and their daughters, Cecilia and Sophia, attend the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. Deacon Tom retired an Army Colonel and currently directs the JROTC Program for Hamilton County Department of Education.

As a teenager in the Methodist Church, he began to feel God’s call on his life, a call that persisted for over 45 years but remained unfulfilled until his ordination to the Permanent Diaconate in 2007. Deacon Tom and Brenda together enjoyed a long spiritual journey from Methodism to Pentecostalism to Episcopalism to several other Protestant “ism’s” until coming “Home to Rome” as millennial converts to the Catholic Faith at Easter Vigil in 2000 at OLPH in Chattanooga. They bought the house in which they now live in Hixson in 2002 and moved to St. Jude where they both served as Readers, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion for the parish and Memorial Hospital, and members of the Schola Cantorum. After his ordination, he started and led a Prison Ministry for the Chattanooga Deanery.

Deacon Tom and Brenda look forward to joining the Basilica family and to serving the parish; as one of his parish assignments they hope to become involved in the Chattanooga interfaith community and develop an ecumenical apostolate that will mutually benefit all faiths.

Deacon Hicks Armor
Deacon Hicks Armor

Deacon Hicks Armor was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in June of 2016. He is a native Chattanoogan and is a 3rd generation member of the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. His parents were married at the Basilica and he received all of his formative Sacraments at the Basilica. Deacon Hicks graduated from St. Jude’s School, Notre Dame High School and has a B.S. Degree in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Professionally, he is currently Sr. Vice President of Brown & Brown Insurance and is a specialist in employee benefits.

He has been very active in Community organizations serving on the Boards of many of them. He currently serves as advisor to the Rector and Pastor for Finance and Administration and coordinates the Liturgy Team, Servers and works with engaged couples on their marriage preparation. He has been married to Vicki Armor for 30 years and is the proud father of Hicks J. and Alex Armor. Deacon Hicks is humbled to be called to the Diaconate and is proud to call the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul his home parish.