A local priest with a giving heart touches many lives in East Tennessee

5:33 PM, Mar 6, 2013   |    comments
Father Ragan Schriver
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There are a lot of people here in East Tennessee who help others and then there are those few people who give their whole lives to charity. Father Ragan Schriver is one of those special people.

Father Ragan is also known as Father Rock Star. It might seem like just a cool nickname, but no, he really is a rock star with a ton of energy, a huge heart for helping others and a jam-packed schedule.

And his passionate spirit was there from the very beginning. "I'll never forget this. One day I was up at my uncle's house at the rectory in Gatlinburg and a man came by with a backpack. He obviously had nowhere to live. And my uncle said, 'Well, here come on over here and you can stay in the basement at the rectory or the church.' And so he let him stay in the church there overnight and that stuck with me," says Father Ragan Schriver. "Wow, think about the trust that my uncle had for this guy and think about the trust that the guy had to come and seek help knowing this guy would be able to help him."

That was only the first significant moment that led to his life in the priesthood. He then went to Thomas More College in Cincinnati where he played tennis and was involved in student government.

After graduation, he was trying to figure out what to do with his life and then the moment that truly pushed him down this path came after a meeting with the bishop.

"When we finished talking I said 'Well, I still don't know what I want to do. I wish God still made burning bushes and he'd just tell me what to do,'" says Father Ragan. "I went home that evening and my mom had this card that she had gotten in the mail from somebody. And she said, 'Look at this card I got.' And I looked at it and it had a picture of a burning bush."

And that was it. He entered the seminary. "The state requires four hours of marriage prep to get married for the rest of your life. It took me four or five years to prepare to get not married," says Father Ragan.

And during this time he also got his master's degree in social work. Now, he is jazzed about life and his work not only as Executive Director of Catholic Charities of East Tennessee.

"With a five million dollar budget last year we served almost 24,000 people," says Father Ragan.

He also serves as the Pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Seymour and is a professor at the University of Tennessee. He teaches classes in the College of Social Work.

He's all over the place, but how he takes care of himself is pretty simple.

"Running is the greatest release. I can just go out and run and kind of sweat," says Father Ragan.

And his vegetarian diet is pretty basic.

"It's been rumored that I eat the same thing every day. Salad at night, usually a bagel at lunch," says Father Ragan. "On crazy days I might get a fruit cup like today."

So how does he spend his time away from work? There's not much down time, but he is religious about one thing.

"I usually go for a nice long run on Saturday morning. And then for years relentlessly meet my parents for lunch every Saturday at 11:45 at Panera," says Father Ragan.

Father Ragan Schriver, a rock star in every sense of the word, but this rock star is all about giving back and not taking a thing in return.

One of "Your Stories". There's no place like this one.


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