Pastoral Council Elections: Candidate Biographies

UPDATE: Mike Barnes and Bill Olka were both elected to the PPC. May God bless their contributions to the council.

MIKE BARNES:
Hi, My name is Mike Barnes. I have been at St.Marys Parish for over 14 years when I converted to Catholicism. My wife, Tatjana, and I have 6 kids. They are all enthusiastic altar servers and choir members and sometimes greeters! I work at OrthoTennessee in the IT department as an Operations Supervisor. St.Mary’s is very dear to me. I am a past Grand Knight for the Knights of Columbus council 3175, a past cub master for Pack 329 and I helped lead the revitalization committee. I remain active with the Knights and like to help out wherever needed. I am currently a member of the Finance Committee and am currently involved in a men’s bible study. I would like to serve on our parish council because I want to take part in the direction our church is headed. Thank you for considering me.

PAUL HIGHT:
My name is Paul Hight. I have been a member of St. Mary’s for about one and a half years, but have attended for over 25. I grew up as a Baptist but joined St. Mary’s after going through the RCIA a couple of years ago. I am married to my wife of 34 years, Dolores Getsi Hight. Dolores is a native Oak Ridger and has gone to St. Mary’s all her life as well as attending St. Mary’s School. We have one son, Brad. He also grew up at St. Mary’s and now resides in Knoxville where he works as an Engineer. I have lived in the Oak Ridge area and worked at the DOE facilities since coming here as a co-op student from Tennessee Tech in the mid 1970’s. An Engineer by schooling, I have worked at all three of the facilities in Oak Ridge. I plan to retire after the first of the year and will have time to pursue my hobbies of CrossFit, hiking, shooting, and sports cars; and to have more time to devote to supporting the church and other volunteer activities.

GAIL LUDTKA:
As a member of St. Mary’s Parish for over 30 years, and married to my beloved husband, Gerry for 45 years, I’ve been blessed to participate in several of our Church ministries. While our two sons were young, I loved volunteering as a religious education teacher for kindergarteners. As our sons grew, I thoroughly enjoyed blending my voice with our 8 AM church choir to worship God with songs, particularly singing songs based on the Psalms. In recent years, I’ve found great joy in sharing my faith with our Diocesan Men’s Prison Ministry, and now, I’m looking forward to continuing this ministry with the Diocesan Women’s Prison Ministry. I currently look forward to and love my weekly adoration and Bible studies, that help me to continue to learn more about God and His Word. My experience as a Ph.D. Materials Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for almost 30 years, has enabled me to use many of my God given abilities to also serve as the principal investigator on multimillion dollar projects/programs, while staying within set budget constraints; and last year, being blessed to be named a Battelle Distinguished Inventor. I would be honored to bring all of these faith and work experiences to serve on St. Mary’s Church Council.

BILL OLKA:
Bill has been a member of Saint Mary Parish since childhood, even serving the 4 am Mass for the Jesuit doctoral candidates who did research at the Lab. Bill is presently one of the two head sacristans for the parish and is a member of the Knights of Columbus.

MARK PINCHBACK, SR:
Mark E. Pinchback, Sr, is a father of 4 children (2 boys and 2 girls) who has lived in Oak Ridge, TN for 10 years after retiring from the U.S. Nuclear Navy Submarine Force (24 years). Current occupation is Training Manager at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Nonreactor Nuclear Facilities Division. Mark’s confirmation was Easter of 2016 for the order of St. Benedict. Music has been a blessing in his life, so he is being mentored to cantor during the Wednesday 6 pm mass. He is also part of the Sunday 10 am mass choir along with supporting choir during major liturgical services. Servitude to the Church is a passion in his life. Through prayer, bible study, and meditation all things are possible. Serving on the Pastoral Council provides an opportunity to grow and continue to share God’s promise to the Oak Ridge community, St Mary’s parishioners and the Diocese of Knoxville.

J.J. WILDER:
Born in Memphis, Tennessee and attended parochial grade school (Holy Rosary) and High School (Catholic High School for Boys). Graduated from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in Nuclear Engineering in 1973. Worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority until 1990, consulted with Management and Operating contractors at various DOE sites across the United States until September 2017 when I returned to Oak Ridge and became a full time employee at Y-12. I moved to Oak Ridge and joined St. Mary’s in 2003. I am a 4th Degree member of the St. Mary’s Knights of Columbus Council with whom I am a Past Grand Knight and I am currently the Knights of Columbus District Warden for five councils stretching from here in Oak Ridge to Lenoir City. I previously served on Parish Council in 2012, 2013, & 2014. I am married to Helen and we were married at St. Mary’s on December 30, 2011. I am honored to be nominated for Parish Council.

Elections for the Parish Pastoral Council are this weekend.

The Parish Pastoral Council is one of two parish councils at Saint Mary’s (the other parish council being the Parish Finance Council). The purpose of the Pastoral Council is to advise the pastor for the growth and betterment of the parish and to assist the pastor in formulating programs and policies. The members of the council should be a praying community and by their example lead the parish to a fuller life of prayer. They should be sensitive to the movement of the Spirit among the people of God in the parish and be truly representative of all members of the parish in their advice. They are to support the pastor in his role as shepherd of the parish. They should foster unity in the parish, encourage full participation of parishioners in parish life, and promote ongoing dialogue among the staff, parishioners, and the various parish organizations. The pastor, whose advisory council this is, other clergy assigned to the parish by the bishop, the religious sister assigned as school principal, the Parish Finance Council chairperson, the Knights of Columbus grand knight and the Council of Catholic Women president are ex officio members of the Parish Pastoral Council. Parishioners shall elect six representative members. Elected members of the council shall serve three year terms. Annually, two council members shall be elected to fill vacancies created by members whose terms are due to expire. The Pastoral Council oversees five parish committees: Divine WorshipFacilitiesHispanic MinistrySchool Board and Youth Ministry.

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