Saturday, June 16, 2018

Church Under Construction

St. Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Church is now under construction.  Yes, we have begun moving dirt.  Praise the Lord.

Day Two of excavation

The last huddle was all the paper work to gain permission to begin.  This included having both the blueprints and budget approved by the various committees of the Bishop.  Then came the formal letter from the Bishop Richard Stika of the diocese of Knoxville granting permission to begin.
Signed letter granting permission to begin

Just a few "small" rocks
General Contractor Trailer
Next came the bulldozers.  Then the general contractor's trailer.  Next week will most likely be pouring of the foundation.

This is the good news.  Now the challenging news is that the loan is significant.  We still  need to raise funds so the loan burden will be less.  Also, we need a trailer to serve for offices and the educational building.  Finally, we desire a bell tower.  Niether of these are funded at the moment.  With prayer they will be.
Flat and beautiful

Yet, we trust God to provide all these blessings in His own way and his own time.

No longer a novice, now a member of  Glenmary

Of course life goes on.  Josiah is with us again after taking his first oath.  Weddings, baptisms and other celebrations continue.  It is a good reminder that the structure we call church is the shell for the real church... the body of Christ centered in Jesus and in service to the Kingdom of God.

First Communion at English Mass
Cake with Frist Communicants

First Communicants at 11 a.m Mass
Molly's Baptism

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Praying in Mexico for a church in the U.S.

We are still waiting to move dirt to begin the church.  Currently, both the general contactor and the architect are ready.  Thus we are moving slowly through the permission stage of the Diocese of Knoxville.  On Wednesday, April 25 we meet with the building  committee.  They approved the building.  Now the next, and hopefully, the last meeting, will be May 11 with the financial committee to approve the loan that will be needed.   In the meantime, we sent out a letter requesting a large donation to 135 Catholic legislators and 24 Senators and numerous Catholic celebrities.  Hopefully some will have mercy on us and send more money.  Also, our annual yard sale is this week.  Last year we made $5,000.  We would like to equal that or surpass it again this year.

So while we are waiting, like a pregnant woman in her ten month, I had the opportunity to lead a pilgrimage to the sacred shines of Mexico.  During this pilgrimage we carried many petitions and placed them on the altar of the shines where we celebrated Mass.  We finally left them at the Basilica  of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Among these petitions was the success in building our church for the community of St. Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Church.

Thus, enjoy this little photo journey with me.  Pray at each photo as if you were there for the building of our church.

First stop was our Lady of Zalopan and a room dedicated St John Paul II
First of many Cathedrals visited,  this is in Guadalajara

Mural of the story of Saint Toribio Romo
The garment in which St. Toribio was wearing when martyred
The tree marking the death of the martyr of St. Pedro Esqueda
Relic room to the twenty five Mexican martyrs
A chapel dedicated to St. Joseph within the hotel compound in Guanajuato
The Cathedral in Guanajuato
Mass at Cristo Rey
Inside the cathedral of St. Francis in Queterero
Inside the first mission Jalpan founded by St. Juniper Serra

The veneration of the first class relic of St. Juniper Serra

Outside of the  church in Jalpan
After Mass in the sacristy of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Within the compound of the Basilica

Inside the main basilica with a view of the original Tilma

St. John Paul II was my personal companion on the pilgrimage

St. John  Paul II  - co-Parton of the diocese of Knoxville and the Sacred Heart, the name of the cathedral of Knoxville
Under the church where Juan Bernandino, the uncle of Juan Diego, was healed

The Cathedral in Mexico City

One of the main doors

St. John Paul II and Our Lady of Guadalupe .. his cape is made of keys

Outdoor image of indigenous honoring the Virgin

Our final visit to the Basilica
All of the Cathedrals were buillt between the 1600 - 1700's.  The Diocese of Knoxville just build its first Cathedral after 30 years of being a diocese.  And we are trying to build the first Catholic church ever in Maynardville, TN.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Plans are here

This is Holy Week, a time to remember the journey of Jesus into Jerusalem.  It began on a good note on Monday when I was told the architectural plans are finally ready.  They were printed on Tuesday and the group of church members began review them on Wednesday night of Holy Week.  The estimation of the project also has arrived.
Drawing of Front, back and side

The current timeline appears to be as follows: Tuesday, April 4, in the evening the construction committee will meet with the general contractor.  . Then if all is okay, we will seek permission to begin.  Once permission is granted and contracts are signed, the dirt will begin moving.  Thus sometime in mid April it might actually happen.

Drawing of front and inside front

Yet, every step is an act in faith in God.  The church will be built on God's time and not our own.  Even through I desired greatly for it to begin in March, it did not.  That was good.  We had rain and even snow this month.  So equipment would have sat without moving and thus costing us money.  So we keep trusting in the Lord.
March Snow
March Snow

Thus, I am asking you to join us in the prayer by praying the St. Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Church Construction Prayer.  We have a small  church that travels to a home each week.  The family says this prayer every day and then on Sunday it goes to another home.  I am inviting you to offer this prayer in your home.

O Jesus Christ, may we be inspired by our patroness Saint Teresa of Kolkata, so we may become a flame in the community to  spread the warmth of your love.

Through the Holy Spirit let us build a church that will be the rock that supports your people during times of need and despair for generations to come.  Mother Teresa showed us that God holds no divisions, regardless of culture, language or any other differences.  Like her, allow us to overlook our human imperfections and embrace our strengths.

Guide us, Jesus to go out and be an echo of your love and compassion; so we may go into the world and be an example of your grace and mercy.

Let us be a place of serenity, acceptance, and love.  Extend your ever loving arms when we visit your church as you embrace all of us, so we may live in happiness and  peace and for everyone to know that they are a child of God.  By your grace may we be united in the body of Christ.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Hopefully my next blog will show the dirt being moved.

Written on Holy Thursday with hope to be offer this most solemn celebration next in in a new church building.
Palm Sunday Attendance (after Mass photo)  I think we need a new church.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Church Construction

Today turns the focus of a missionary heart in Grainger and Union County, TN to the process of constructing the first Catholic Church buildings in the history of these two counties.

The story really begins in August 2011 when the Glenmary Home Missioners under the invitation of Bishop Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN sent a team of three to these two counties.  Whereas both congregations are working on construction, St. Teresa of Kolkata, Maynardville, TN serving Union County, TN is ready to begin moving dirt, with the blessing of our Lord.

First Meeting in August 2011 to organize a Catholic Community in Union County, TN
In August 2011, 26 individuals attended the first Mass in the carport of the rented house of Fr. Steve, Br. Craig and Br. Joe.  Each needed to bring their own chair.  The next step was to find rental space to begin Sunday worship.  This was achieved in October of 2011.  After a month of Sunday worship in Miller's Chapel United Methodist Church, the first Mass held in the rental  space was the feast of All Saint's Day on November 1st.  This rental space was a combination of storage units and hot dog stand.   The first Spanish Mass was held December 12, 2011 in honor of  Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Spanish Sunday Mass began the first Sunday of January 2012 with only 11 people present. Yet, both worship hours grew rapidly.  Today we have over 125 registered families and over 300 members. Therefore, after several stages of expansion by renting more and more storage spaces, construction of a permanent church home became an obvious need.
The first public Mass in the carport

In September of 2014, the community gathered for three sessions to discuss what we wanted in a church complex.  In 2015 an architect was hired to draw up a master plan.  Around the same time, the diocese of Knoxville decided it was time for them to build a Cathedral, since the church named as the Cathedral was never designed to be a cathedral.  Thus a capital campaign was started.  The community of St. Teresa of Kolkata (known at the time as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta) enthusiastically participated in the campaign.  In this time we also grew sufficiently to no longer be considered a mission, but a parish.
Fr. Aaron leading a church planning session in 2014

Once we had an idea of what we needed, the next challenge was to raise funds.  We held fundraisers, the capital campaign, and sent begging letters to over 1,000 churches.  We thought we were ready in September of 2017.  We actually held the ceremonial ground breaking.  Then there was a slow down which when all the bids were in, the cost estimate for our dream church was double of what was the projected budget.  This was an emotional blow to everyone after over three years of planning and sacrificing.  Yet, with trust in God, we moved forward.

Bishop Stika elevates the mission to parish status with Deacon Sean Smith assisting and Fr. Steve accepting this declaration.

Thus we have redesigned the building.  We have kept worship space the same, changed the entrance eliminating offices and a larger kitchen.  Our hope is to have a modular unit to serve for office and some classrooms.
Deacon Larry, Bishop Stika and Fr. Steve at Sept. 2017 ceremonial ground breaking
  We are currently waiting for the final bids of the new design.  Once we have this, we hope to begin in early March.
The dream church now redesigned (lower roof and less square feet)

Therefore, please say a prayer.  Watch for regular updates ... both the highs and lows of this project.  In the end we hope to build a church that God desires of St. Teresa of Kolkata.  We hope it honors Him with a simple and reverent structure.  We hope it will serve as a sign that the Catholic Church is here to stay.  Furthermore, that it serves as a beacon of hope for the lost, lonely and poor in honor of our patroness.  We hope many who are inactive Catholics will return.  We hope many who do not worship anywhere may find the beauty of faith in the Catholic Way of Life.  We hope that this building will strengthen and unite our faith community.
Why we need more space

Please join us in prayer that God's will be done for the people of St. Teresa of Kolkata and those living in Union County, TN area.

Thursday, January 18, 2018



It has been over a year since I have blogged.  My deepest apologizes.  My current plan is to begin again with a blog that focus on church construction, once the dirt begins to move, most likely in March. 

Again my apologizes.

Fr. Steve Pawelk

Saturday, December 31, 2016

December at John Paul II Catholic Mission, Rutledge, TN

As we approach the New Year of 2017, I am sharing the joys of Advent at the mission of St. John Paul II.  In my many years serving as a Glenmary priest, the way the Catholics of St. John Paul II honor December is unique and inspiring.

Rosary to conclude the feast of Guadalupe
They begin with the novena in honor of the Immaculate Conception which is also associated with Our Lady of Joaquin ( the virgin of the state of Oxacca, MX).  This continues through the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  The novena means they sing, pray the rosary, and then eat afterwards.  Each night a different family is the host.  These are held at times at someone's home or at the church.

Then the celebration in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe follows.  This took place on the December 11 in the afternoon.  Procession, Mass, Food, three dance performers and the drama of Our Lady of Guadalupe mark this festival.  It is a huge amount of labor and expense, but done with great joy and love.  Then at 6:00 a.m. on December 12th they gathered for the Mananitas (morning praises), which is singing and the rosary.   Some came to St Teresa of Kolkata for the evening Mass; others had on last rosary at a families home.
Actors for the drama of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Presentation of the Gifts
Ladies traditional dance
Dancers from St. Teresa of Kolkata

Dance of the Viejos (Old ones)

After a few days of rest, they began the rosaries for the Posadas.  This again is nine days of rosary, singing and food with the added twist of candy and fruit each night for the children.  This then concludes with the joyous final night on the 23rd with rosary, the pastorales, food, gifts and the piƱata.
Posada singing outside the door

Receiving the crib

The final rosary

This year's Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus

The cast of the pastorales
Gifts from Novice Ken and elves

Pinata breaking

The highlight of course is Christmas Mass. 

The photos and description can not capture the level of faith that is evident in the faithful where any given night as few as thirty and as many as 100 were gathered for prayer.  Imagine 2 to 3 hours every night for 21 days during December.  Where many were shopping and preparing for Christmas in other ways, these Christians were praying to prepare their heart for the Lord. 

After all, the time of advent is to prepare us to receive the gift of faith in a renewed way.  As we end 2016 and begin 2017 may it be a time of great faith in Jesus for everyone.

 Peace, Love and Hope is my wish for everyone.

Happy New Year.