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For the next year, the Catholic Church is recognizing those who lead lives as men and women religious

SISTERS IN CHRIST Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia process into the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for Solemn Vespers for the consecrated religious last February. Pope Francis has declared that 2015 will be the Year of Consecrated Life, and the Diocese of Knoxville will hold events to celebrate those in religious life.  Photo by Dan McWilliams

SISTERS IN CHRIST Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia process into the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for Solemn Vespers for the consecrated religious last February. Pope Francis has declared that 2015 will be the Year of Consecrated Life, and the Diocese of Knoxville will hold events to celebrate those in religious life. Photo by Dan McWilliams

Pope Francis proclaimed 2015 as the Year of Consecrated Life, and the Diocese of Knoxville’s newest delegate for consecrated life said the special designation is key for the diocese’s men and women religious.

“It’s very important in the sense that it’s a real opportunity for them to make their apostolates known, to be more in the public eye if they use this opportunity,” said Sister Mary Charles Mayer of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Mich.

“In some places there are very few religious, so a lot of people won’t even know this is happening . . . It’s been a long-standing tradition for religious to be in schools and in health care, and so it’s a great opportunity for them to let the world know that they’re present and doing works of charity. And doing works is really essential in all of our lives.”

The Year of Consecrated Life began Nov. 30, the first Sunday of Advent, and will conclude Feb. 2, 2016, the World Day of Consecrated Life. The year marks the 50th anniversary both of Perfectae Caritatis, a decree on religious life, and Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the Church, which has a chapter concerning religious life.

As part of his ministry, Bishop Richard F. Stika has greatly expanded the role of religious in the Diocese of Knoxville.

Since coming into the diocese in 2009, Bishop Stika has led efforts to increase the number of religious orders represented in the diocese to more than a dozen.
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‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,’ and St. Joseph is our sure guide

With the beginning of Advent, the Church marks the start of a new liturgical year, a full month before we celebrate the beginning of a new calendar year. And this seems fitting for it is exactly when the days begin growing darker and colder that the Church holds up a lantern of light and hope to help guide us through the uncertainties of life’s journey.

Particularly during Advent I find comfort in contemplating St. Joseph, who the Church honors and recommends to us as our special protector and guide.

I remember very clearly celebrating my first Mass the day after my ordination to the priesthood on Dec. 14, 1985, and how I felt a special closeness to St. Joseph.

As I pronounced for the very first time those words of consecration, I held in my hands under the appearance of bread and wine the very one whom St. Joseph had held in his arms in Bethlehem. And particularly since my ordination and installation as bishop of this wonderful diocese on the feast of St. Joseph on March 19, 2009, I have frequently sought his intercession in helping me to guide and protect the souls of those entrusted to my care—and I invite you to do the same.

Just as St. Joseph was entrusted with God’s two most precious gifts—Jesus and Mary—so we too through our baptism are entrusted in a special way with their care. For as the Church is a mother that bears Christ into the world, so also we are mothers when we allow the Holy Spirit to form Christ in our hearts, giving birth to him in our actions of love. We become mothers when we are the face, the hands, the feet and the heart of Christ to others, and St. Joseph is our special guardian and helper.

So often in life’s journey we experience weariness, hardships and even dangers. In these days leading up to Christmas, I invite you to contemplate the image of St. Joseph with the light of an oil lamp in one hand, and in the other the reigns of the donkey that Mary sat upon in the last days of her pregnancy as he guided her safely through the darkness to Bethlehem. As he illuminated the way to Egypt and led Mary and the infant Jesus out of harm and then back to Nazareth when it was safe, so too will he help you in your life’s journey.

As Mary bore Jesus in her womb, St. Joseph bore in his heart the name that God had entrusted to him— “you are to name him Jesus for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). My prayer for you in this Advent season is that St. Joseph will help keep the name of Jesus always in your heart so that you might make a gift of Him to all in need.

Though the Gospels record no words of St. Joseph, we have only his silent testimony of love and obedience. But silence is its own unique song of adoration before the mystery of God. Let us then bring ourselves to be still before God and to quiet ourselves in silent adoration, praying with the Church, “Come Lord Jesus!” May this Advent season be a time of preparation for the “tidings of great joy” that St. Joseph is guardian of!

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December 2014

Tennesseans vote yes on 1 as constitutional amendment passes

December 2, 2014

East Tennessee Catholic faithful instrumental in passage of pro-life measure as state’s churches get out the vote In a constitutional battle watched closely by pro-life and pro-abortion groups around the country, Tennessee voters approved Amendment 1 on Election Day, Nov. 4, giving state legislators the ability to better regulate facilities that perform abortions. The amendment […]

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December 2014

Chattanoogans for Life inspired by Chet McDoniel’s personal story

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Renowned speaker is joined by dad for program to celebrate the pro-life mission, shows attendees he remains unbroken By Paul Schulz On Jan. 5, 1980, Chet McDoniel emerged from his mother Judy’s womb breech, with shortened legs and no arms. “My parents tell me that immediately after my birth I was placed in a corner […]

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December 2014

Outdoor Mass marks end of growing season for migrants

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More than 250 contract workers, their families and friends gather for liturgical celebration Tomato crates were stacked for walls and the floor was concrete, but brilliant sunshine and a warm autumn breeze filled a makeshift outdoor chapel at Scott Farms in Unicoi on Oct. 26 as more than 250 agricultural contract workers, their families and […]

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December 2014

Ministries Day brings leaders from across diocese together

December 2, 2014

More than 200 people take part in daylong conference that provides information for parish programs More than 200 parishioners from around the Diocese of Knoxville took part Oct. 18 in Ministries Day, a daylong event where diocesan ministry leaders gather with fellow Catholics from the various churches to share ideas on how to more effectively […]

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December 2014

Bishop Stika celebrates the saints with students at St. Joseph School

December 2, 2014

Bishop Richard F. Stika took the opportunity to discuss one of his favorite subjects — saints — with a school full of eager students during a visit to St. Joseph School on Nov. 3. Bishop Stika celebrated Mass at the North Knoxville school on the first school day after All Saints Day, which was Saturday, […]

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December 2014

Pope Francis to visit Philadelphia for World Meeting of Families

December 2, 2014

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said he would attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September, making it the first confirmed stop on what is expected to be a more extensive papal visit to North America. The pope made the announcement Nov. 17 in a speech opening an interreligious conference on traditional marriage. […]

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