By Bill Brewer
The Diocese of Knoxville is now 48 parishes strong after Bishop Richard F. Stika elevated Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Mission in Maynardville during a special Mass on Sept. 5.
Bishop Stika, giving a homily in Blessed Teresa’s temporary facility in a storefront along Highway 33, praised parishioners for working to build the Union County Catholic community into a parish and inspired them to continue their efforts to construct a permanent church nearby.
Bishop Stika noted the significance of holding the special Mass on the anniversary of the death of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, MC, who died in 1997. She was beatified in 2003.
During the Mass, the bishop put his signature on decrees establishing the parish that also were signed by Diocese of Knoxville Chancellor Sean Smith. The signatures were made as Blessed Teresa pastor Father Steve Pawelk, GHM, watched. Father Pawelk was concelebrant of the Mass. Mr. Smith was the deacon of the Word.
Blessed Teresa has been one of four Catholic missions in the Diocese of Knoxville. The others are Saint John Paul II in Rutledge, where Father Pawelk also is pastor, St. Michael the Archangel in Erwin pastored by Father Tom Charters, GHM, and Divine Mercy in Knoxville, pastored by Father Hoan Dinh.
During the Mass, Bishop Stika recognized a group of parishioners who were visiting from St. Malachy Catholic Church in Geneseo, Ill., which is the sister parish to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
The Illinois parish has been raising money to assist in the development of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta parish as part of a Glenmary Home Missioners program. St. Malachy parishioners have visited at Blessed Teresa several times.
A confirmation during the Mass was another first for the new parish and Bishop Stika was presented with an award from the Scouts.