“What do we do now?” In marking the Diocese of Knoxville’s 27th anniversary on Sept. 8, Bishop Richard F. Stika recalled when he welcomed Cardinal Justin Rigali to the Archdiocese of St. Louis in 1994. After being formally introduced as the seventh archbishop of St. Louis, then-Archbishop Rigali turned to then-Father Stika and asked those very words.
Fondly remembering the exchange with Cardinal Rigali during his Sept. 8 homily for the diocesan anniversary Mass at the Chancery, Bishop Stika wondered whether the Diocese of Knoxville’s first bishop, Anthony J. O’Connell, asked Father Xavier Mankel the same question upon beginning the diocese.
Bishop Stika then said he could imagine Mary turning to Joseph upon the birth of the Christ Child and uttering those same words.
In his homily, Bishop Stika said in each instance, they made it work – for the glory of God. Steeled in their resolve to serve God, Mary and Joseph nurtured Jesus; Archbishop Rigali and Father Stika nurtured the Archdiocese of St. Louis; and the Diocese of Knoxville’s first bishop and a senior priest nurtured a mission diocese in the heart of the Bible Belt.
Also to celebrate the anniversary, Bishop Stika blessed and dedicated the St. Joseph Courtyard at the Chancery to priests, deacons, and consecrated women and men religious. Cardinal Rigali donated the funds for the courtyard and its maintenance.
Joining Bishop Stika and Cardinal Rigali for the dedication were Father David Boettner and Deacon Sean Smith and Chancery staff.
The statue of St. Joseph that watches over the courtyard was a 2009 gift to Bishop Stika and the Diocese of Knoxville from the Archdiocese of St. Louis.