Opening the Doors of Mercy

‘Priests, parishioners respond to immigrants in need after raid separates families

Story and photography by Jim Wogan

The ongoing and complicated issue of Latin American immigration in the United States hit the Diocese of Knoxville on April 5 when federal agents raided a slaughterhouse in Grainger County and arrested nearly 100 undocumented workers there, many of them parishioners at four Catholic churches in the diocese.

Agents from U.S. Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol worked in a coordinated effort to target Southeastern Provision, a meat-processing company located in Bean Station. Read more…

  • In the Spirit of Evangelization, St. Patrick Parish opens its doors to communities responding in a crisis

    A day after the April 5 government raid at Southeastern Provision in Grainger County, Father Patrick Brownell, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Morristown, was standing outside St. Patrick’s family center and reflected on the quick mobilization of his staff, parish volunteers, pastors from other churches, and those in the community to address the needs of families affected.

    He compared the scene to his 17 years serving in the U.S. Army National Guard.

    “Being in the military, this is not out of place,” Father Brownell said. Read more…

    Courage/EnCourage chapters begin in diocese

    By Emily Booker

    For practicing Catholics who struggle with same-sex attractions, it can be difficult to feel at home within the Church. Courage International is an apostolate of the Catholic Church that offers support and fellowship to men and women experiencing same-sex attractions who choose to live a chaste life. And that ministry is now offered in the Diocese of Knoxville.

    Similarly, EnCourage offers support for parents, spouses, siblings, and friends of those who experience same sex-attractions. EnCourage members work together to understand the experiences of their loved ones and to respond to them with compassion.. Read more…

    Family life center at the heart of future plans for St. Mary-Gatlinburg

    Despite setbacks from wildfires, Sevier County parish is outgrowing present space for activities

    By Bill Brewer

    Unlike the proverbial phoenix, St. Mary Parish in Gatlinburg hasn’t had to rise from the ashes, though that possibility was a sobering thought for Father Antony Punnackal on Nov. 28, 2016.

    Still, Father Punnackal, CMI, has construction on his mind. As many of his Gatlinburg neighbors rebuild from the devastating wildfires 17 months ago, Father Punnackal and his parishioners are making plans to expand St. Mary, which was spared in the firestorm. Read more…

    Diocese of Knoxville parishioners take part in Regional Encuentro

    East Tennessee delegates gather in Miami with peers from 29 Southeast dioceses to plan for National Encuentro

    By Brittany Garcia

    Some people have heard much about the V Encuentro (the 5th National Encounter of Hispanic/Latino Ministry). Others, perhaps, have not heard so much.

    But the V Encuentro is an exciting, four-year process of evangelization, accompaniment, and consultation to shed light on the Latino/Hispanic community within the U.S. Catholic Church and the real issues its faces in this day and age. Read more…

  • An Affirmation: Latinos’ journey to East Tennessee not unlike the trek Mary and Joseph made

    By Dr. Leila S. Al-imad

    Reflecting on having joined the Mexican community in the Las Posadas, I was thrilled to have seen how uplifting their affirmation of faith is and how devoted they are to our Catholicism.

    I was inspired by their enthusiasm and genuine love for their religion. What a joy to have heard them sing. Read more…

    First Chrism Mass celebrated in new cathedral

    ‘The Lord has anointed us,’ Bishop Stika declares as 1,000 gather for diocesan Holy Week service

    By Dan McWilliams

    The still-sparkling new Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus hosted its first Chrism Mass on March 27 as Bishop Richard F. Stika and more than 60 priests joined some 1,000 of the faithful for the annual Holy Week celebration. Read more…

    Christ’s Passion relived in Living Stations of the Cross

    All Saints, Holy Ghost among several Diocese of Knoxville parishes to re-enact the crucifixion, resurrection on Good Friday

    The Diocese of Knoxville’s Office of Hispanic Ministry invited parishioners around the diocese to accompany Jesus through his Passion and death in the Living Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, March 30, that were held at several parishes throughout the diocese. Read more…

    KCHS, Notre Dame students make statements on school safety

    Campus activities follow recent shootings in other states as parents, faculties share concerns about disturbing trend

    By Emily Booker

    Today’s high school students were born after Columbine—a word that has become synonymous with student shootings.

    These students have always known lockdown drills and breaking news of gun violence in schools. They are young, but not too young to address the tragedy and the danger of violence in their hallways. Read more…


He dwells among us: Come Creator Spirit

Beautiful hymn also serves as a prayer to the Giver of Life, who makes all things new

By Bishop Richard F. Stika

The Easter season that culminates with Pentecost Sunday, which this year falls on May 20, is a season also for the celebration of the sacrament of confirmation.

As with the Church’s most important celebrations, including the ordination of clergy and even during the procession of the College of Cardinals into the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope, one particular hymn continues to bless our hearing and our hearts: Veni Creator Spiritus, “Come Creator Spirit.” During this confirmation season, I never tire of hearing this ancient hymn, written 1,200 years ago, nor repeating the words, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit,” as I anoint the confirmands with holy chrism.

Confirmation is the sacrament that completes the sacramental grace of baptism, giving us the strength of the Holy Spirit, binding us more strongly to the Church, and giving us to share more fully in the mission of Christ. Read more…

Living the readings: Our cathedral: the mission begins

The new Sacred Heart Cathedral joins all that came before it

By Father Joseph Brando

What is the function of the Church? One answer may be that the Church exists to make our Risen Lord present in every corner of the world and in every human soul. That job is daunting, if not impossible. Like any great challenge, that job description needs to be broken down into “doable” pieces. As the Church has come to know our Lord better throughout the ages, we can look at our risen Savior as priest, prophet, and king. Read more…

Praying for perspective: Heroes of the ages

Who do you identify with? Your answer may surprise you

By George Valadie

A few years ago, I attended a principals conference for more than 100 school leaders, a mixture of young and old, white and black, Catholic, private, public.

The conference facilitator opened by grouping us by our age, using the decade in which we graduated high school — most of us being in the ’60s and ’70s. There were those from the ’80s and ’90s, too, of course, and even a few youngsters whose high school years were the early 2000s.

Each group was assigned the same task — all were asked to list the heroes and heroines of our youth. Not now, but then.  Read more…

Marriage Enrichment: Giving up procrastinating ends up helping marriage

A timely Lenten goal has an unexpected benefit, and longest-married couples can teach the same lesson

By Marian Christiana

Happy Easter season! I hope you all had a very fulfilling Lenten season and are rejoicing in the Risen Lord. I have to admit that my Lenten journey was a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. I was trying to give up my favorite pastime of procrastinating. Conventional wisdom says that it takes 40 days to create a habit, so I thought Lent would be a great opportunity to try and change a lifelong habit of putting things off (as stated above, procrastinating!) and offering up the effort it was going to take to make this change for a special intention. I figured it could be a win-win situation for me. To help me be successful in this effort I decided to try and figure out why I was like that in the first place. Read more…