Knoxville Catholics were abuzz with excitement when an honest-to-goodness red hat Cardinal showed up for the ordination of Bishop Richard Stika last year. Who knew that he would like our humble diocese enough to decide to move here?
The Diocese of Knoxville is not being bumped up to archdiocese status. When he retires a few years from now, Cardinal Justin Rigali will make Knoxville his home nine months of the year. Cardinal Rigali has gone boating on our lakes and attended the dedication of the convent named after St. Justin. He will visit again this August as the keynote speaker at Diocesan Day. Although the relocation of his eminence is not imminent, preparations are already underway. It’s complicated. Several priests and nuns will also get new places to live.
The Dan Murphy Foundation (no relation) is providing a grant to the Diocese for a new Bishop’s residence. Bishop Stika describes it as follows:
A bishop’s residence is far more than simply a home. It’s a center of diocesan hospitality as an inviting expression of the “Father’s house.” It’s a place where the bishop can gather with not only his priests and with civil and religious leaders from the community but also with members of his flock and parish leadership teams. It is, as President Andrew Jackson once said of the White House, the “people’s house.” But it’s also a place where the welcoming message of the Gospel is shared. Its chapel is an expression of the cathedral church and an intimate place of prayer and the sacraments, where friendships unite around the “breaking of bread.” This home will also be a place where Cardinal Rigali, in future years, will spend a significant amount of time.
The real estate dealings remind me of the double switch in baseball. For non-sports fans, the double switch is the strategy that proves beyond any doubt that the National League is superior to the American League. The Bishop’s current residence will become a convent for five Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan. The nuns will move out of the St. Justin Convent, which is in the same subdivision. The St. Justin Convent becomes the home for three Evangelizing Sisters of Mary.
In other news, a house situated behind the Chancery recently went on the market. Sacred Heart Cathedral parish will buy the home and make it the new rectory for their priests in June, 2011. The old rectory will be used as office space until such time that a new cathedral building can be constructed, which may be a while.