Once upon a time: Basking in the graces of the Risen Lord

God has blessed our diocese with men and women who are committed to spreading the faith

By Monsignor Xavier Mankel

As the Diocese of Knoxville celebrates its 28th anniversary, we ask ourselves where did all this come from.

The term “created” is used in a broad sense. The Diocese of Knoxville that was created Sept. 8, 1988, came from the Diocese of Nashville. The Diocese of Nashville created Sept. 16, 1838, came from the Diocese of Bardstown (Louisville), which was created Nov. 4, 1810, from Baltimore (Archbishop John Carroll was consecrated Aug. 15, 1790). Baltimore came from England, and one could draw the existence through Europe all the way back to the apostles.

We have heritage and we have history.

The Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was blessed originally as a parish church in 1956. Its church, rectory, convent, and school served the parish well for years. A new cathedral now being built to replace the present one will be dedicated in 2018 and is being constructed to last at least 200 years. The Diocese of Knoxville has grown at a rapid pace since 1988. Vibrant schools and schools of religion continue to help parents plant and grow the faith.

Many changes have occurred in the Church during this last half-century, and many more will occur in the future. Perhaps a significant one that Bishop Richard F. Stika has brought us is more sisters. The Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Mich., have built a local convent in the diocese, and others have followed suit. More priests and deacons have given the Church more presence as the years fly by.

Each year a sufficient number of adult folks become Catholic, and these converts have been generous with their tithes. In the next 50 years, more priests, deacons, and lay leaders will be present, and more building will occur!

I have not mentioned Cardinal Justin Rigali so far. His presence is great, but it is unusual for a diocese of any size to have a cardinal living in a small see city. History will tell the blessings that having a cardinal in our midst has brought us. Where else is the service of a cardinal happening in the United States in a diocese as small as ours?

We are fortunate to have these Church leaders, Bishop Stika and Cardinal Rigali, serving God and His people in our diocese!

As we continue to bask in the grace of the Risen Lord, let us thank God for all of these graces and benefits.

Through the hands of the apostles, many signs and wonders occurred among the people. Nevertheless, more and more believers, men and women in great numbers, were continually added to the Lord (Acts 5:12a, 14). ■

Monsignor Mankel is a vicar general and the historical archivist for the Diocese of Knoxville.

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