The oldest of five children, J. Terry Steib was born in Vacherie, Louisiana, to Rosemond and Vivian (née Jones) Steib. He attended St. Augustine Divine Word Seminary in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi from 1953 to 1957, and graduated from Divine Word Seminary in Conesus, New York, in 1961. He completed his philosophical studies also at Divine Word Seminary in Techny, Illinois in 1963, and earned a theological degree from Divine Word Seminary in Bay St. Louis in 1967.

Steib was ordained a priest of the Society of the Divine Word on January 6, 1967, and served as Assistant Dean of Students at Divine Word Seminary in Bay St. Louis until 1969. He was a professor at Saint Stanislaus College, a Catholic high school in Bay St. Louis, from 1967 to 1976, and earned a Master of Arts degree in Guidance and Counseling from Xavier University of Louisiana in 1973. In 1976, he was elected to the first of three terms (1976–83) as the provincial superior of the Society of the Divine Word’s Southern Province. He was also Vice-President of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men from 1979 to 1983.

On December 6, 1983, Steib was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis and Titular Bishop of Fallaba. He received his episcopal consecration on February 10, 1984, from Archbishop John L. May, with Bishops George Gottwald and Charles Koester serving as co-consecrators. He was named as the fourth Bishop of Memphis on March 24, 1993, and installed on May 5, 1993.

Pope Francis accepted his resignation on August 23, 2016.
Bishop Steib currently serves as a member of the Compass Community School Board and the St. Paul Catholic School Advisory Board.

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