Parishioners of the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus raised money for a new rose window of stained glass that was installed to mark Father David Boettner’s 25th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.
Father Boettner, rector of the cathedral and a vicar general for the diocese, blessed the new east rose window on May 25 during a Mass in honor of his ordination anniversary, which is May 28.
Bishop Stika, who was traveling to Poland on May 25, issued a letter of gratitude and congratulations to Father Boettner that was read during the Mass by Father Arthur Torres.
Father Boettner was joined at the Mass by his parents, his three brothers and sister, and extended family members.
Bishop Ron Hicks, Bishop Robert Casey, and Father Sergio Romo of the Archdiocese of Chicago, friends of Father Boettner since seminary, concelebrated the Mass along with Father Torres and Father Marcin Gladysz, associate pastors of the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and a dozen priests from the diocese.
“How I became a priest is kind of a miracle because I didn’t grow up thinking about being a priest; I didn’t grow up pretending to hold Mass,” Father Boettner shared during his homily. “I think ultimately I made the decision to go to the seminary because I … had the respect of my parents, who gave me unconditional love. And it’s because of that witness of love that I really felt a call to try to instill in others the love that I felt God had for me.”
During his 25 years as a priest, Father Boettner, whose birth parish is St. Thérèse of Lisieux in Cleveland, has also served at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Chattanooga, St. Mary in Athens, St. Mary in Gatlinburg, and St. Thomas the Apostle in Lenoir City.
“Each of your communities has taught me how to be a priest,” he said. “To the priests of the Diocese of Knoxville who have surrounded me in friendship and brotherhood, I am grateful to share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ with you.”
The east rose window, which is the large, circular window atop the cathedral’s front doors, has a central image of Jesus and His Sacred Heart surrounded clockwise by 12 images symbolizing His presence. There are two other rose windows, one atop the north entrance to the cathedral and the other atop the south entrance, which, at some point in the future, are to be converted to stained-glass windows.
Father Boettner also thanked cathedral parishioners, cathedral parish staff, and volunteers, whose hospitality and service are “always a sign of our desire to greet all as we would greet Jesus Himself.”
The class of seminarians ordained in 1994 was one of the Diocese of Knoxville’s earliest. It included Father Patrick Brownell, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Morristown, Father Tom Moser, pastor of St. Catherine Labouré Parish in Copperhill, and Father Gilbert Diaz, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Seymour.
“Over the past 25 years, God has blessed me by placing me in the lives of thousands of people who have each shown the face of Jesus to me. Along the way, you have welcomed me, helped me to listen to God’s call in my life, and been companions on the journey. Others have given me directions when I got lost and pointed me back to Jesus. To all of you, I am deeply grateful,” Father Boettner said.
“Before I ever imagined being a priest or attended Mass for the first time as an infant, my parents, Barry and Nancy Boettner, and my siblings, Bill, Cathy, Brad, and Mike, showed me what unconditional love was like. You have been my roots, my resting place, my constant support, and my source for homily material. You were the first church I entered, and you taught me that God’s love is truly incarnate,” he added. “To everyone God has put in my life, and in whose lives I have been privileged to be a part, I am thankful for you and I pray that I have been able to show Jesus to you even in some small way.”