Tuesday, November 8, 2016

It is a new day

After a very long absence, the missionary heartbeat blog is back.  Sorry for the wait.
This is why it is called the "Smokey Mountains".

One discovery is once a routine falls apart, regardless how good it is, it takes twice as much effort to restart.  This is true about this blog, but it is also true about diet, exercise,  prayer, and going to Mass.  Acknowledging this reality, this entry is dedicated to what has been happening in Union County.  I will aim to catch you up on St. John Paul II Catholic church in Rutledge soon. ( I hope soon, is like in two weeks).

Three major changes have occurred recently.  First, with the canonization of Mother Teresa on September 4 we now have a new name.  We are now St. Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Church.  The spelling change is out of respect of the people of India.  The change from "Calcutta" to "Kolkata" is  returning to the indigenous spelling. 

A free gift and our welcome banner
We were blessed with Bishop Stika coming to celebrate this change a week later.  The joy he brings, his sense of humor and his holiness all add to the festive mood of this event.  He likes to say he is a third class relic since he knew and was hugged by Mother Teresa.  Now we have the challenge live in a way that give honor to our patroness.  We need to be a church of mercy even after this jubilee year ends.
The image is a gift from Bishop Stika in honor of her canonization

The second exciting news is that in October Larry Rossini was ordained a deacon and assigned to service here at STK (our new initials: St. Teresa of Kolkata). Deacon Larry, a native of Arkansas but a long time resident in Halls, TN, has been a great addition.  Currently he is helping us reorganize our internal church structure. 
Deacon Larry shortly before his ordination

One of the challenges as a community of faith grows is adjusting the committees and lines of communication.  As a start up church, just five years old, it has been very dependent on the Glenmary Missioners with a few parishioners to carry the load of work.  This is no longer sustainable.  With Br. Craig now serving in Sneedville, TN, which is the neighboring county, his ministry needs to be handled by the  parishioners.  Further more, we a no longer just a small community.  We have grown from 26 people to 120 families.  Deacon Larry's background in business systems being applied to church life is a real plus. 

Yet, what Deacon Larry is getting ready to do is even more essential.  He will be forming an Evangelization committee and in true missionary spirit, go out to the world to announce the good news.  Of course, he and his team will just hit the little part of the world known as Union County.  Yet it is  big enough for us.
St. Francis garden: blooms of faith will be as vibrant

Finally, the most exciting and nerve creating news is that we have an architect under contract.  This week our architect will meet with the liturgy committee on Friday and all our construction workers on Saturday.  Then the detail design will begin.  It has been a very long wait to get here, but we made it.  All the fund raising efforts, the carnivals, all the outside donations has allowed to receive a grant from Extension Society.  Therefore, we have a financial plan that should allow us to begin construction in the spring of 2017.
The Master Plan

Stay tuned for future updates.  Thanks again for your patience.