KDCCW holds annual convention at St. Stephen Church

Bishop Stika celebrates Mass for diocesan organization at Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus                    

By Emily Booker

Bishop Richard F. Stika celebrated Mass for the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on April 26.

Concelebrants were Father Dan Whitman, Father Michael Woods, and Father Joe Brando. Deacon Gary Sega was deacon of the Word.

The bishop thanked the women for all of the work that they do in their parishes and challenged them to be role models and intentional disciples.

“Look at all you do for the Diocese of Knoxville. In your parishes, in your experiences, in your personal commitments to other people….You know how St. Francis of Assisi would say, ‘Always preach the Gospel, and sometimes use words?’ That’s it. That’s intentional discipleship. And that’s what we’re all called to be,” he said.

“For you women who have been around a little bit longer, in your maturity and wisdom, you can be true mentors to younger women who are facing different situations and challenges than maybe you faced in your generation. For the younger women, as they follow you, the same is true,” the bishop added.

Bishop Stika also encouraged the women to remain committed to their faith and involved in helping the Church.

“Thank God for all of you who make such a difference in every church in East Tennessee, in all your parishes, and in all the things that you do, noticed and unnoticed, because it’s about Jesus, and building His kingdom,” he said.

Music for the Mass was provided by the All Saints Parish choir.

For many, this was the first time visiting the new cathedral. Bishop Stika took time at the end of Mass to point out specific features of the cathedral, including the refurbished Stations of the Cross, the large tabernacle, and the statue of Pope St. John Paul II.

Following Mass, Karen Vacaliuc, president of the KDCCW, presented Bishop Stika with a check totaling 365,244 volunteer hours contributed by the KDCCW to the diocese.

The KDCCW held its annual convention April 12-14 at St. Stephen Church in Chattanooga.

Speakers at this year’s convention included Kitty Cleveland, a lay evangelist, singer, songwriter, and inspirational speaker. Her keynote address was “Mary at My Door: Welcoming Mary into Your Heart.”

Mrs. Cleveland began her professional career as a lawyer, university instructor and career counselor. But during a family crisis, she heard a call to become a “music missionary.” She heeded that call and has since released 12 CDs of music and prayer. She and her husband and daughter live in Madisonville, La.

The KDCCW also heard from Kathleen Gruseck, an author, speaker, and spiritual retreat director who spoke on “The Beloved Disciple: Who is that Disciple? How Mother Mary is a Model and Mirror.”

Mrs. Gruseck is familiar to many in the Diocese of Knoxville for her work coordinating the spiritual component of the Council of Catholic Women at St. Thérèse of Lisieux Parish in Cleveland. She and her husband now live in Columbus, Miss.

Dr. Majel Gliko Braden, an educator, counselor, author, and speaker, facilitated a discussion on “Finding Healing and Hope in Suffering and Grieving.” Ms. Braden, who is an international speaker, lives near San Antonio, Texas.

The KDCCW members also were treated to a virtual tour to the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. The guided tour, shown at St. Stephen, led them on an interactive and prayerful experience with the Lourdes water, the Grotto rock, Eucharistic blessing, and a candlelight rosary procession. They also learned about the timeless message of Our Lady of Lourdes to St. Bernadette. Pope Francis has granted a plenary indulgence to all faithful who participate in the virtual pilgrimage.

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