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By Dan McWilliams

Students from Catholic elementary schools and Knoxville Catholic High School heard stories of courage, honor, and sacrifice as Medal of Honor recipients, in town for a national convention, spent time with them Sept. 12.

All of the speakers arrived by helicopter, including retired Army Staff Sgt. Leroy A. Petry and Army Specialist Ty M. Carter, who were greeted at Sacred Heart Cathedral School by Bishop Richard F. Stika, Cardinal Justin Rigali, and Sacred Heart rector Father David Boettner after they landed on the school grounds.

Medal of Honor recipients Marine Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, left, and retired Army Staff Sgt. Leroy Petry greet students at Sacred Heart Cathedral School on Sept. 12 during a ceremony honoring the heroes. Photo by Dan McWilliams

Medal of Honor recipients Marine Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, left, and retired Army Staff Sgt. Leroy Petry greet students at Sacred Heart Cathedral School on Sept. 12 during a ceremony honoring the heroes.
Photo by Dan McWilliams

Sgt. Petry and Specialist Carter appeared on stage at Sacred Heart, where they fielded questions from WBIR-TV’s John Becker and students. The two Medal of Honor recipients entered the gym through a double line of students that included Boy and Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Brownies, and American Heritage Girls in their uniforms. A military band and a full house of students from SHCS, St. Joseph, St. John Neumann, and St. Mary in Oak Ridge greeted them. Bishop Stika led an opening prayer and later presented gifts to the two honorees.

Sgt. Petry lost his right hand when he picked up a grenade that detonated while serving as a Ranger in Afghanistan. He demonstrated his robotic artificial hand for the students, turning it 360 degrees to oohs and aahs from the gathering.

Specialist Carter said during the assembly, when asked by Mr. Becker how faith figured into his service, that “you find part of a religious experience when the bullets are flying and the bombs are going off.”

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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 Richard F. Stika signs the decree formally establishing Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish during a special Mass Sept. 5. Observing are Deacon Sean Smith, diocesan chancellor, and Father Steve Pawelk, pastor of the new parish. Photo by Bill Brewer

Bishop Richard F. Stika signs the decree formally establishing Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish during a special Mass Sept. 5. Observing are Deacon Sean Smith, diocesan chancellor, and Father Steve Pawelk, pastor of the new parish.
Photo by Bill Brewer

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.

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