Pope Francis has appointed Father James Mark Beckman, 61, a Priest of the Diocese of Nashville for more than three decades, as the Fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville. The appointment was announced in Washington, D.C., today, May 7, by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
“I am blessed and honored to accept this appointment from the Holy Father,” Bishop-elect Beckman said. “I am a native Tennessean, and I am grateful that I can continue serving the Church and now the faithful of the Diocese of Knoxville in this region that I know well and love tremendously.”
Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre will continue to lead the Diocese of Knoxville as Apostolic Administrator until Bishop-elect Beckman’s Episcopal Ordination in July.
“I have known Bishop-elect Beckman for a long time,” Archbishop Fabre said. “We were Seminarians together at the Catholic University in Louvain, Belgium, many years ago. I believe in my heart that he will be a good shepherd for the faithful of the Diocese of Knoxville.”
Bishop-elect Beckman was born on October 19, 1962, in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., which is located in the Diocese of Nashville. He attended Sacred Heart School and Lawrenceburg County High School and received a bachelor’s degree in history from St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Ia., in 1984. He also earned a master’s degree in religious studies from the Catholic University in Louvain, Belgium, in 1988.
He was ordained a Priest of the Diocese of Nashville by Bishop James Niedergeses on July 13, 1990. He served as Associate Pastor of Holy Rosary Parish, Nashville (1990-91); Teacher and Associate Principal of Father Ryan High School, Nashville (1990-96); Pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Springfield, Tenn., and St. Michael Mission, Cedar Hill, Tenn. (1996-2002); Pastor of St. Matthew Parish, Frankin, Tenn. (2002-15); and Pastor of St. Henry Parish, Nashville (2015-present).
Bishop-elect Beckman’s additional service for the Diocese of Nashville has included: member of the Presbyteral Council (1993-2003; 2008-2013); member of the Diocesan Clergy Personnel Board (1995-2000); Director of the Diocesan Youth Office (1996-2002); Priests’ Vocation Advisory Council (1998-2000); member of the College of Consultors (1993-2003, 2008-2013); Dean of the Northwest Deanery (2001-2002) and Central Deanery (2008-2013); Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, Council #11925 (2003-2011); State Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus (2004-2005); Chair of the Priest Personnel Board (2018-present).
“While our own hearts are saddened by the departure of such a dear friend and collaborator in ministry, we are joyful for our brothers and sisters in our neighboring diocese who are receiving such a kind, faithful, and capable new shepherd,” said Bishop J. Mark Spalding of the Diocese of Nashville.
Bishop-elect Beckman is an avid hiker and said he plans to continue his passion for the outdoors while serving in the Diocese of Knoxville.
“Over the years I have made many friends in the Diocese of Nashville, and I have much gratitude for the support they have given me. I look forward to nurturing the same meaningful relationships with the Catholic community in East Tennessee,” Bishop-elect Beckman said. “This is a wonderful Diocese, and I am thrilled to be part of its future.”
The Diocese of Knoxville is comprised of 14,242 square miles in the State of Tennessee and has a total population of 2,538,487, of which 71,274 are Catholic.
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