One Family’s Exodus

Rwandan couple giving back to East Tennessee, which welcomed them as refugees

Story by Bill Brewer
Photography by Stephanie Richer and Michael Patrick

Drocella Mugorewera is a woman of faith. Her name even says so.

She sees God in action everywhere she goes.

And she sees the face of Jesus in everyone she helps as executive director of Bridge Refugee Services, a nonprofit service organization in Chattanooga and Knoxville that helps refugees relocate and integrate in East Tennessee. Read more…

  • Working to keep a community together

    St. Patrick Parish leader finds herself on the front line of the immigration issue in East Tennessee

    By Bill Brewer

    This is a busy time of year for Veronica Galvan.

    The director of religious education and adult faith formation coordinator at St. Patrick Church in Morristown has been registering families for CCD classes and preparing for the 2019-20 RCIA year. Read more…

    The Immigration Issue from a Bishop’s Perspective

    Bishop Stika shares his thoughts with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network

    The Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) has asked Bishop Richard F. Stika to share his and the Diocese of Knoxville’s experiences when federal agents raided a Grainger County meatpacking plant and detained scores of Hispanic workers in 2018.

    In seeking Bishop Stika’s input, CLINIC, an organization established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to support community-based immigration programs, said it is compiling resources on immigration detention and its impact on families, communities, and those in detention. Read more…

    An explosion of grace

    Communal wedding Mass at Holy Ghost Church unites 14 Latino couples in holy matrimony

    From staff reports

    Gifts of the Holy Spirit were the ultimate wedding gifts for 14 Diocese of Knoxville couples who exchanged vows at Holy Ghost Church on June 15 in a ceremony to celebrate their full communion with the Catholic Church.

    Communal wedding Masses are common in Latin American countries and are being held in dioceses around the country with more frequency. Read more…

    Pro-life East Tennesseans to mark 40 Days for Life in September

    Prayer vigil returning to diocese after two-year hiatus; volunteer groups and individuals asked to take part

    By Bill Brewer

    After a two-year absence, 40 Days for Life is returning to the Diocese of Knoxville in September.

    The announcement was made by Paul Simoneau and Lisa Morris, who coordinate pro-life activities for the diocese. Read more…

  • A Crisis with a Captial C

    Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is calling for Congress and the country to solve a humanitarian crisis

    By Bill Brewer

    Rep. Chuck Fleischmann understands the U.S. immigration crisis inside the halls of Congress and out at the border crossings.

    He has visited on more than one occasion the U.S. border with Mexico, where thousands of undocumented Hispanic immigrants who have entered the United States are detained and thousands more are trying to enter from Mexico. Read more…

    A Catholic pastor responds to immigration questions

    By Father Steve Pawelk, a Glenmary Home Missioner and pastor of St. Teresa of Kolkata Parish in Maynardville and St. John Paul II Catholic Mission in Rutledge

    “Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt.” (Matthew 2:14)

    “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:35-36)

    “As a body is one, though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. … If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all parts share its joy.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 26) Read more…

    Bishop Stika becomes Diocese of Knoxville’s longest-serving bishop

    By Jim Wogan

    It turns out that July 2019 was a memorable month for Bishop Richard F. Stika.

    Three days before he celebrated his 62nd birthday on July 4, Bishop Stika reached another significant milestone. On July 1, he became the longest-serving bishop in the history of the Diocese of Knoxville. Read more…

    St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic names executive director for operations

    By Bill Brewer

    St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic has named a public health scholar to be its next executive director, who will work with founder and medical director Sister Mariana Koonce, RSM, to continue delivering free medical care to rural East Tennessee. Read more…


He dwells among us: Rights of migrant and country

In considering the issue of immigration, we need to keep two basic rights in perspective

By Bishop Richard F. Stika

They took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus. (Luke 23:26)

In reflecting upon the complicated and difficult subject of immigration, I am reminded of Simon of Cyrene. We know nearly nothing about him, like the countless many throughout history who have left their homes and countries in search of a better place. All we know of him is contained in a single sentence recorded in three of the Gospels. But by virtue of our baptism, we know much more about him because we are all Simon of Cyrene, a foreigner and sojourner, called to pick up our cross and to follow Jesus to our true home in heaven with the passport of faith.

Scripture reminds us that God hears the cries of the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner (Exodus 22:20-22), and that we are called to be especially compassionate to them. Who are the widows and orphans of our time? Read more…

Praying for perspective: Ain’t life ‘grand’

Parenting never grows old, especially when you add the titles ‘Grumpy’ and ‘BB’ to the job description

By George Valadie

It doesn’t happen all that often. It certainly hasn’t been typical for our family. But remarkably, one of our longed-for dreams has come true.

Katy, our oldest, her husband, Clint, and their two youngsters recently moved back to our hometown, Chattanooga.

I can’t tell you how excited we’ve been.

But the most intriguing part of this miracle is that with their transition, job hunting, and house hunting, they’ve moved into our house. Read more…

Marriage Enrichment: On long marriages—and a columnist’s retirement

Many people are thanked for their efforts over the years to benefit marriage-support events

By Marian Christiana

This article is going to have two parts to it. At first glance, they may not seem to fit together, but stick with me and I think that you will see the connection. The first section is about the 2019 longest-married couple in the Diocese of Knoxville, and in the second section I will comment on my upcoming retirement at the end of June 2019. Read more…

Thoughts and Prayers for the Faithful: A study of the cynical Book of Qoheleth

Also known as Ecclesiastes, the book is among the wisdom books of the Old Testament

By Bob Hunt

I’ve been reading the Book of Qoheleth, also known as Ecclesiastes, attributed to Solomon because of the opening line, “The words of David’s son, Qoheleth, king in Jerusalem” (Ecclesiastes 1:1). It is included among the wisdom books of the Old Testament.

Many think Qoheleth a downer of a book, and it’s clearly a work of cynical philosophy. “Vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” (Qoheleth 1:2b) Which is to say, all things amount to nothing in the end. All your labors, all your wealth, all your good living or wanton living—all of it will come to the same end: death. Read more…