By Dan McWilliams
Through its second annual Royalty Carnival, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Maynardville played host to several hundred guests Sept. 5.
The carnival was a big success in raising money for Blessed Teresa’s new church building. The festival took place on the site of the future church, across from Union County High School on Highway 33.
“This is for the new building,” said Blessed Teresa pastor Father Steve Pawelk, GHM. “The Home Campaign brought in over $200,000, plus what we already had in the bank.
To be successful in building, we’re going to need to raise $10,000 to $12,000 a year through fundraisers.”
Father Pawelk said that the parish needs an estimated $500,000 to $600,000 overall for the new church, “so we’re trying to figure this all out. We hope to break ground in the spring, God willing.”
The parish has finished its master plan, “so the next stage is we’ll have three architects to do the next stage of bidding,” Father Pawelk said. “We’re aiming for a traditional church. It’s going to sit right where we are today.”
Children of the parish played a role in the carnival.
“Each kid is assigned a booth, and whichever kid’s booth raises the most money, they’re the king and the queen of the carnival, so that’s kind of the motivation,” Father Pawelk said.
The entertainment line-up at the carnival included the Maynardville Mexican Dancers, The Beasons, the Better Way, the Holy Ghost Spanish Choir, and the Valley Boys.
“The stage and the instruments are donated by a local Baptist Gospel group,” Father Pawelk said. “We have three Baptist groups singing today.”
If there’s a Baptist church in the area, odds are that Brother Craig Digmann has visited it. Like Father Pawelk, Brother Craig serves Blessed Teresa and St. John Paul II Catholic Mission in Rutledge.
“I’ve been to about 86 of the Baptist churches in Union and Grainger counties to get to know all these folks,” Brother Craig said. “They have me sing in some of the churches, and I’ve led prayer in some of the churches. But there are a couple of Gospel singing groups who have come to sing in our Catholic church in Maynardville and in Rutledge, and now they’re singing today here at our carnival.
“Some of these Baptist churches have even financially helped and provided contributions for our new Catholic church here in Maynardville, so that’s been a real blessing.”
Brother Craig said the Baptist churches and churches of other faith traditions in the area, along with the Catholic churches, “are starting to look more alike.”
“By going to worship with others in other churches, they’re more apt to come and also worship in the Catholic Church,” he said. “All this promotes ecumenism, where we look more at our similarities as Christians instead of so much at our differences. There are differences, but we look more at what we have in common and go from there and let the Holy Spirit do the work.”
The Sept. 5 carnival fell on a special day for the Maynardville parish.
“Today is the feast of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, so last night we had the vigil Mass,” Father Pawelk said.
“Yesterday in her honor we gave away over $800 to folks in need who called with different requests. We run a regular account here through the generosity of a priest from Missouri and a grant from Glenmary from an anonymous donor, which can only be used to help people who are poor with local needs.”
“So in the spirit of Blessed Teresa, we hopefully have done her honor not only with the festival but in giving to the local poor.”