Marble piece blessed by Pope Francis will visit all 51 parishes and missions in lead-up to cathedral opening
By Jim Wogan
As the new Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus reaches the final phases of construction, Bishop Richard F. Stika has announced the cathedral dedication stone Pope Francis blessed, which will be displayed inside Sacred Heart, will make a pilgrimage to each parish and mission.
The Dedication Stone Pilgrimage allows parishioners across the diocese to view the marble stone Bishop Stika presented to Pope Francis at the Vatican on Oct. 14, 2015.
The stone, quarried from property in East Tennessee, is roughly the size of a ceiling tile and weighs 19.5 pounds. It will be placed in the narthex of the cathedral at the conclusion of construction in early 2018. Members of the diocese’s Knights of Columbus will escort the dedication stone to stops at each parish, mission church, and Catholic school.
The Dedication Stone Pilgrimage began following a Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Nov. 22. Bishop Stika celebrated the Mass. Father David Boettner, rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral and a vicar general for the diocese, and Father Arthur Torres, Sacred Heart associate pastor, concelebrated.
Following Mass, the dedication stone was transferred by the Knights of Columbus from the cathedral to its first visit at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Mission in Erwin.
After visiting all 51 parishes and missions and the 10 schools, the dedication stone will make its way back to Sacred Heart Cathedral in preparation for its permanent installation in the new cathedral, which will be officially consecrated in 2018 when construction is complete.
In addition, plans are underway to officially place the much larger cornerstone for the cathedral.
The cornerstone serves as a foundation stone on which the cathedral rests.
The cornerstone will be placed during a special ceremony led by Bishop Stika and Father Boettner on Saturday, March 25, at 11 a.m. ■
You can follow the Dedication Stone’s journey through the diocese of the Dedication Stone pilgrimage page of the Diocese of Knoxville website.