It is truly exciting to see a Glenmary mission open in rural county of the U.S. where there has never been a Catholic presence. In nearly 80 years, Glenmary has served over 125 missions but the need still exists! There are still over 300 counties in Appalachia or the South that do not have a Catholic Church or a full time priest brother or sister.
After celebrating in a rented storefront building for many years, one of our missions in Eastern Tennessee had a ground breaking ceremony for the building of a new church. And this is not just a "new church" but the first Catholic Church that has ever existed in the county.
Building a new Church has to be one of the greatest moments in the life of the mission but not the only one. Other great moments could include the day the Glenmary missioners arrive or the first day that Holy Mass is celebrated in the county. Certainly the first baptism could also be lifted up as a great moment in the mission. I have helped so many young people prepare for their first communion and confirmation that seeing the hundreds of young people receive the sacraments also is a great moment in the mission. Or maybe it is witnessing the first catholic wedding in the county or administering the oils on the many sick or offering the first catholic funeral mass.
With all the joys of of those great moments in the mission come challenges, raising the necessary funds to build the church is just one. But trusting in the good Lord we see Kingdom of God growing even in rural areas of the south. Someday the little Glenmary mission in Eastern Tennessee will grow enough to return tot he care of the diocese and that will certainly be another great moment in the mission. And we pray that someday - that mission will send a few of their young men and women back to Glenmary to serve as priests, brothers and sisters to go out to new mission areas.
This video shows Bishop Stika of Knoxville at the breaking ground ceremony of the St. Teresa of Kolkata's permanent home in Maynardville, Tenn. If you would like to help with this or the Glenmary mission effort in other areas, you can give a secure online donation on our Glenmary website.
Picture of the new church plans.