Bishop Richard F. Stika was the host for the 14th annual Bishop’s Gathering & Adult Awards luncheon honoring Scouting in the diocese.
The event took place March 16 at All Saints Church in Knoxville and was sponsored by the Diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting. DCCS lay chairman George LeCrone Sr. and religious-activity chair Giannine Morris emceed the luncheon.
As part of the proceedings, Bishop Stika accepted the diocese’s ninth straight Quality Diocese Award, presented by the National Catholic Committee on Scouting.
Jeffery Swanson of All Saints Parish, former longtime Scoutmaster of Troop 630 and an Eagle Scout, received the St. George Award at the luncheon. Father Charlie Burton, pastor of St. Jude Parish in Chattanooga, received the St. George Award in a Feb. 17 presentation at St. Jude. The honor goes to members of the laity or clergy “who have made significant and outstanding contributions to the spiritual development of Catholic youths through Scouting.”
Linda Myers accepted the Order of the Golden Bow award, presented to Scouting families at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Mission in Maynardville.
Mr. LeCrone presented a cross to Doug Armitage, Scoutmaster of Troop 630, which was the service troop for the Bishop’s Gathering.
The luncheon included remarks by the bishop and three professional Scouters: Anna Dirl, site-based coordinator for the Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians; Michael CasaSanta, district executive for the Boy Scouts of America Cumberland Council; and Casey Norwood, director of field service for the BSA Great Smoky Mountain Council.
Bishop Stika remarked on the new pope’s choice of Francis as his papal name, honoring a famous saint.
“Anybody know about St. Francis of Assisi? He had two great loves in the world. Do you know what they were? Three actually. First of all, God. Second of all, people. And third, nature,” the bishop said.
“Doesn’t that kind of dovetail with Scouts and all the things you learn about Scouts? Learn how to work with people, how to love people, how to acknowledge that everyone is special and unique and every person has a different gift or talent.”
The bishop mentioned St. Francis’ instruction to “preach the Gospel always, and sometimes use words.”
“So what would St. Francis say? You can talk about Jesus and you can talk about heaven and you can talk about all the different components of what it means to be a person who believes in God. You can say it, but you also have to live it,” Bishop Stika said. “Isn’t that what Scouts is all about: appreciating all the things that God’s given to us and living those commandments out—those beatitudes out?”
The bishop said he wanted “to thank all of you for what you do.”
“You honor us as the Church of East Tennessee. We’re grateful for all of those who have visited us today . . . and we pray that the Lord will bless all of us so that truly in our lives, we might be the face of Jesus and we might be the voice of Jesus and we might speak the words of Jesus.
“If we do that, then we honor the God we talk so often about in our Scouting program.”