By Jim Wogan
Bishop Richard F. Stika led the opening prayer for the Celebration of Mercy organized for the Cumberland Mountain Deanery on July 23 at Knoxville Catholic High School.
Participating priests included event organizer Father Steve Pawelk, GHM, of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Maynardville and St. John Paul II Catholic Mission in Rutledge; Father Julius Abuh of St. Therese in Clinton; Father Dustin Collins of St. Mary Church in Oak Ridge; Father Hoan Dinh of the Church of Divine Mercy in Knoxville; and Father Michael Woods, Father Adam Kane, Father Pontian Kiyimba and Father Miguel Vélez-Cardona, all of All Saints Parish in Knoxville.
Deacon David Lucheon of All Saints and Juan Hernandez, director of Hispanic Ministry at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Alcoa, preached about the parable of the prodigal son.
Thai Sean Vinh of Divine Mercy and Marisol Mercado of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta read from holy Scripture, and Cliff Jestice of Rutledge Baptist Church performed songs. The Word Players, a Christian performing arts group from Knoxville, presented a musical drama called On a Hill.
The celebration began with a procession that was led by Father Pawelk and Danza de Teresa de Calcutta, a traditional dance company from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish.
“We asked for people to pray for people (they) know who are inactive Catholics; people who are unchurched; people who are living a life of moral confusion, that’s what this day was about,” Father Pawelk said.
Bishop Stika discussed the impact the Year of Mercy is having.
“Last year when Pope Francis first brought up the Year of Mercy, a lot of people said, why? Look at what happened recently in France, or in Germany, or in Afghanistan, and then look at our streets and our government and everything that surrounds us, situations in our families and in our own personal lives. I think it reminds all of us of the importance of mercy,” Bishop Stika said. ■