Bishop Richard F. Stika called on parishioners to make Lent a season of grace and purity and to not fail to remember and pray for those who have died when confronted by evil and religious persecution.
Bishop Stika celebrated Ash Wednesday Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Feb. 18. More than 450 people braved the cold and snow to begin the 40 day journey of penance and reconciliation. Father David Boettner, Vicar General of the Diocese of Knoxville, concelebrated Mass.
In his homily, Bishop Stika reminded those attending Mass of news reports detailing the recent beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Egypt and other atrocities carried out by religious and militant extremists like ISIS.
“Pray for the Church throughout the world, because we’re culpable here,” said Bishop Stika.
“We are all involved in the Home campaign to build a new cathedral. There’s a blizzard outside. We all have responsibilities with school and our jobs, but think about the Church and the Christians in other parts of the world who are dying because they say Jesus on their lips—in Egypt, in Syria and in Nigeria,”
Bishop Stika spoke of atrocities committed by Germany during World War II and the reaction of those who may have been able to prevent them— but didn’t.
“Let’s pray for each other during this season of Lent, a time of purification and holiness so we can develop interior strength to combat evil that is around us in the world and also evil that is in our hearts.
“Let’s pray for our Church and let us pray for our sister and bothers throughout the world”