Presumably, this is now the newest parish in the United States.
Bishop Richard F. Stika created the Diocese of Knoxville’s 50th parish on Sept. 29 as St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Mission in Erwin became a canonically established church.
The feast of St. Michael the Archangel from now on will have deeper historic meaning for the diocese and its newest parish.
Bishop Stika presented the canonical documents to Glenmary Father Tom Charters, officially elevating St. Michael to parish status as the bishop blessed its new parish life center, which will double as a church until a permanent church is built sometime in the future.
Nearly 200 St. Michael members were in attendance as Bishop Stika celebrated Mass. Concelebrating the Mass were Father Charters, who has led St. Michael since the mission was founded on Oct. 23, 2011; Father Chet Artysiewicz, president of the Glenmary Home Missioners; Father Peter Iorio, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Johnson City; and Father Michael Cummins, pastor of St. Dominic Parish in Kingsport. Deacon Jim Fage of St. Patrick Church in Morristown served as deacon of the Gospel.
“I want to commend you for what you’ve accomplished in just seven years. Where now does St. Michael’s go? You’re no longer a mission. Just like the angel who spreads his wings, you’re spreading your wings in the community of Erwin and in the area that surrounds us,” Bishop Stika said.
He encouraged them to continue being confident when they say, “I am a Christian, I am a Catholic, I believe in the Word of God, I believe the Gospels and the Scriptures. The letters of Paul and the Old Testament feed us and nourish us.” He also urged them to “believe in the Eucharist, the great miracle of that first Passover, and when Jesus gave His Body and Blood, when he said take and eat, take and drink, this is my Body and this is my Blood given for you.”
“The beautiful thing is now that after our celebrations are ended, that red candle reminds us that Jesus still is here in the most holy Eucharist,” Bishop Stika added.