Father Steve Pawelk knows well the Scriptures about how children will lead the faithful.
Michelle Morales isn’t exactly a child, but the young college student led Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Mission’s first major fundraising event on Aug. 30 that attracted scores of people and vendors and raised a few thousand dollars to build the new Blessed Teresa church.Father Pawelk, GHM, credited Miss Morales for organizing the Maynardville event, which featured food and drink stands, a bounce house, crafts and face-painting, karaoke, an auction and a raffle.
The fundraiser was a family affair for Miss Morales, a 21-year-old senior at Lincoln Memorial University whose parents took an active role in the event. Her father even made a solid-wood, hand-carved bed and donated it for the raffle.
She said a number of community businesses contributed items that were auctioned, while many Blessed Teresa families made food such as cakes and tamales to sell in the weeks leading up to the fundraiser.
After acquiring land off Maynardville Highway in the Union County seat earlier this year, members of the mission church are raising money toward construction of a church building.
“We’re excited. It’s our biggest fundraiser so far, and it turned out really well,” Miss Morales said. “It surpassed our goal by far.”
Father Pawelk, pastor of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Mission, said the Aug. 30 event was the first in a series of fundraisers planned for the church building.
“For our first event, it has been fabulous. It brings out the entire community – both language groups working together. It’s fantastic,” Father Pawelk said.Brother Craig Digmann, who assists Father Pawelk as part of the Glenmary Home Missioners, was pleased at the turnout for the fundraiser, despite a rain shower that briefly dampened the site of the new church.
“It amazes me how people have come together to do this,” Brother Craig said.
Among those on hand for the festivities were Cold Spring, Ky., residents Wade and Tina Smith and their three daughters. The Smiths describe themselves as “summer parishioners” of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Mission who spend part of the summer aboard their houseboat on Norris Lake.
The Smith girls took the opportunity to display their talents via karaoke while their parents were active in bidding during the auction.
“We are excited to be part of a build-up for the church. It’s a great experience for our kids to be part of this church from the ground up,” said Wade Smith, who noted that he and his wife and their daughters are parishioners in the Diocese of Covington.
Kimberly Deleon is looking forward to the day when Blessed Teresa of Calcutta celebrates Mass in the new church. She said she is grateful for the Maynardville mission, which is much closer to her Big Ridge home than Catholic churches in Knox, Claiborne or Anderson counties.
“It’s exciting because we’ve had to travel so far, and now it’s only 10 minutes away. We had to travel an hour to attend Mass,” she said.
Anticipation is growing for the day when Blessed Teresa can move from its current temporary space in a commercial building to a church facility, according to Miss Deleon, who was enjoying taking part in the fundraiser.
“I think everybody is really excited about the new church,” she said.