Nearly 200 years of Catholic leadership will be on stage when the Diocese of Knoxville presents A Conversation with the Cardinals on April 18 from 7-9 p.m. at the Tennessee Theatre.
New York Archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Cardinal William Levada will be featured speakers in an entertaining and informative four-way discussion about the Catholic Church.
Bishop Richard F. Stika will moderate the show.
Tickets for this once-in-a-lifetime event will go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. through the Tennessee Theatre box office, the Tennessee Theatre website or through Ticketmaster 800-745-3000.
“It was quite good on the part of Bishop Stika to think this thing up. We hope the audience finds it interesting and enticing to know something about the workings of the Church with which they’re not familiar,” Cardinal Rigali said.
The event is part of a planned historic weekend as the Diocese of Knoxville breaks ground the next day for a new cathedral at the site of the current Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at 711 S. Northshore Drive in Knoxville.
An Evening with the Cardinals will bring one of the Catholic Church’s highest profile and most outspoken personalities in Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, together with two of the Church’s most experienced and revered leaders in Cardinal Rigali and Cardinal Levada.
All three men share connections that go back decades.
More than 50 years ago, Cardinal Rigali and Cardinal Levada studied together in seminary in Los Angeles. Cardinal Rigali was a year ahead in formation and assisted when Cardinal Levada was ordained a priest at St. Peter’s Basilica in 1953.
Both men served the Church in Rome.
Cardinal Rigali worked under Pope John XXIII and worked for Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul I and Pope John Paul II. He was later appointed Archbishop of St. Louis and then Archbishop of Philadelphia, but he remained connected to the Vatican. He now resides in Knoxville.
Cardinal Levada worked for Pope Benedict XVI.
“His experience is especially unique. He has experience I don’t have, working under Pope Benedict XVI,” said Cardinal Rigali. Cardinal Levada was Pope Benedict’s successor, serving as Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, which was the position Pope Benedict held before he became pope.” said Cardinal Rigali.
Cardinal Levada also served as Archbishop of Portland, Ore. and San Francisco.
He was elevated to Cardinal by Pope Benedict in 2006.
As for Cardinal Dolan—his track record speaks for itself.
The New York archbishop first served as a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, when Cardinal Rigali was archbishop there.
He also served as an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Archbishop of Milwaukee. He was appointed Archbishop of New York in 2009 and elevated to Cardinal in 2012.
Asked if the outspoken and gregarious Cardinal Dolan has changed since his days in St. Louis, Cardinal Rigali’s answer came quick– and with a smile.
“He hasn’t. He has dynamism sown into him,” Cardinal Rigali said.
Cardinal Rigali offered this story.
“The day he was consecrated a bishop, I was the consecrator in a magnificent cathedral in St. Louis. There is a tradition where the new bishop goes out into the church to give his blessing. So he goes out into the cathedral and blesses and then comes back and we’re ready to begin processing out.
“Then Bishop Dolan sees another bishop in a wheelchair and he goes over to greet him, which was a very nice thing to do. Then be comes back to stand next to me and we’re getting ready to go out and I see him looking around more.
“And I think, where is he going next?
“So I say to him ‘Tim, stay put.”
The story doesn’t end there.
The conclusion is likely to be one of the highlights of A Conversation with the Cardinals at the Tennessee Theatre.
Proceeds will benefit the St. Mary’s Mobile Medical Clinic, a traveling clinic that provides free health care to rural areas around the Diocese of Knoxville.