On Sept. 8, 1988, Catholics from across East Tennessee gathered at the Knoxville Convention Center to celebrate the birth of the world’s newest diocese. The Diocese of Knoxville was split from the Diocese of Nashville, which at one time encompassed the entire state of Tennessee. The Diocese of Memphis was created in the early 1970s.
The Diocese of Knoxville will kick off the celebration of its 25th anniversary this month by hosting a Eucharistic Congress featuring an array of top speakers, including the archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The Eucharistic Congress is set for Friday and Saturday, Sept. 13 and 14, at the Sevierville Convention Center. More than 5,000 people from across the country and Canada are registered to attend the event, which includes an English adult and youth track and a Hispanic track. The diocese is now home to more than 62,000 Catholics in 47 parishes and four missions.
Cardinal Dolan will give the keynote talk at 3:15 p.m. Saturday at the Congress.
The Eucharistic Congress will begin with a youth Mass on Friday and an evening chat with Cardinal Justin Rigali and Diocese of Knoxville Bishop Richard F. Stika. Cardinal Rigali, archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia, is now in residence in Knoxville. Following the chat will be a youth concert featuring Josh Blakesley, Sarah Kroger, and Paul George and a Hispanic youth concert by Johann Alvarez.
“What a blessing it is as Catholics to come together to celebrate the greatest gift of our Church, the Holy Eucharist, shoulder to shoulder with thousands of Catholics from throughout our diocese, the United States, Canada and Latin America to rejoice in His presence with such unique intensity,” Bishop Stika said.
Saturday’s schedule also features talks by internationally known author and speaker Dr. Scott Hahn and celebrated author, speaker and theologian Father Robert Barron of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. Others speaking Saturday are highly regarded professor and recording artist ValLimar Jansen, who will lead a youth session, and Father Rafael Capó, SchP, and Sister Rosa M. Hernandez, MGSpS, who will lead Hispanic sessions.
The Congress will conclude with a Mass on Saturday evening with Bishop Stika, Cardinal Dolan, Cardinal Rigali, 12 visiting bishops, more than 70 priests and 40 deacons.
“This weekend will be an opportunity to be thankful, the very meaning of the word Eucharist, for all our blessings and to deepen our relationship with God. I am looking forward to celebrating and adoring the source and summit of the whole Christian life, enjoying and being inspired by the weekend’s liturgies, great speakers and good music,” said Deacon Sean Smith, chancellor of the Diocese of Knoxville.
Registration for the event is now closed.