Bishop Richard F. Stika celebrated the 7th anniversary of his Episcopal Ordination with a Mass attended by hundreds of faithful Catholics, including some who travelled hundreds of miles to participate, at Knoxville Catholic High School on Mar. 19.
The Mass was part of the Mercy & Mary two-day Lenten retreat hosted by the Diocese of Knoxville and led by Father Michael Gaitley of the Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy.
The Bishop’s Episcopal Ordination took place, and its anniversary is celebrated each year, on the Feast of St. Joseph.
“It’s been a busy seven years, a lot of things going on,” Bishop Stika said.
“All of this, all of humanity, kind of comes into St. Joseph because he was more like us than even the Blessed Mother about original sin and all that” Bishop Stika said during his Homily.
“Joseph– just like us. He didn’t call attention to himself, so maybe that’s a lesson he teaches us in humility,” the bishop added.
Bishop Stika was ordained as the 3rd bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville during an Mass attended by 5000 people at the Knoxville Convention Center on March 19, 2009.
“This morning we have a wonderful opportunity. We have this combination of the great celebration of the Feast of St. Joseph, combined with a celebration of divine mercy and also of our blessed Mother– Mercy and Mary,” Cardinal Justin Rigali told attendees of the anniversary Mass.
“At the same time, today, we have the 7th anniversary of the ordination of a bishop, Bishop Stika. So we are very much in prayer for him, and for the diocese that he serves with so much love,” Cardinal Rigali added.
“We offer Mass in a very special way for Bishop Stika, that the Lord may sustain him and bless him in his ministry as the Bishop of Knoxville.”
Joining Cardinal Rigali and Fr. Gaitley as Mass concelebrants were Father Julius Abuh, pastor of St. Therese Catholic Church, Clinton; Father Hoan Dinh, pastor of The Church of Divine Mercy, Knoxville; and Father William Gahagan, pastor of St. Jude Catholic Church, Helenwood.
Deacon David Lucheon did the Gospel reading. Deacon Gary Brinkworth was the Mass emcee.
During the celebration, Bishop Stika used the chalice of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, the late American Archbishop, which was brought to Knoxville for the weekend.
“Can I have it?,” Bishop Stika joked during his closing comments after the final blessing.
The Mass attendees erupted in laughter.
The reply was a friendly “no” from the Delaware woman who helps care for the chalice and brought it to Knoxville for the retreat and Mass.
She smiled, but appeared nervous when attempting to explain the chalice’s history and why it couldn’t stay.
“I was kidding”, Bishop Stika said as the laughs continued.
“Thank you for the honor to allow me to use it. God Bless you,” Bishop Stika said as he closed a very special Mass celebration.