Breathtaking is the way The Most Rev. Richard F. Stika recalls his reaction to news that he was about to become the third Bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville.
“It takes you by surprise. I got the call at around 9:30 at night and I was doing Christmas cards,” the Bishop said remembering the moment he received a phone call from Rome on December 15, 2008.
“I got one of these mysterious calls from the Nuncio who is the ambassador from the Vatican to the United States—informing me that Pope Benedict XVI had made me Bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville. The next day when I woke up I thought I had a dream. It actually turned out to be a gift, I believe, from God to come here,” Bishop Stika added.
While he received news of his appointment as bishop in December 2008—the official announcement wasn’t made by for another month. Two months later—on March 19, 2009, he was ordained as the third Bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville.
Thursday marks the sixth anniversary of his ordination.
“It takes your breath away because it changes your life dramatically,” he said.
Bishop Stika started his anniversary day with an appearance on the Hallerin Hilton Hill radio show on NewTalk 98.7 in Knoxville. His Eminence, Cardinal Justin Rigali was also a guest on the show.
The Bishop will celebrate a special Mass on the occasion of his anniversary and then spend time with Chancery staff during a lunch held in his honor.
With special events surrounding a historic groundbreaking for a new cathedral coming up, there hasn’t been much time for reflection.
On Saturday, April 18 the diocese will host a Following Jesus conference with FOCUS founder Curtis Martin and Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Later that night, Bishop Stika will moderate A Conversation with the Cardinals—a live stage event at the Tennessee Theatre featuring Cardinals Rigali and Dolan and Cardinal William Levada who succeeded Pope Benedict XVI as the Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith at the Vatican
On Sunday, April 19, groundbreaking for the new Sacred Heart Cathedral will take place with a Mass that begins at 11 a.m.
Despite the rush of activity— the Bishop found some peaceful time—on the day before his sixth anniversary.
His Excellency went hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.