The Chancellor of the diocese yelled, “watch out” as he pulled me out of the way of the Bishop rolling toward us in a giant hamster ball. That’s a sentence I couldn’t have predicted I would write.

On Saturday, the Diocese of Knoxville held a homecoming picnic at Knoxville Catholic High School to mark the closing of the Jubilee Year that started with the Eucharistic Congress a year ago. The event featured many different activities including bounce houses, a climbing wall, and the giant hamster ball. Bishop Rick Stika was one of the first to try it out.

I was the emcee for the Homecoming celebration. I recorded a short video with my phone but stopped it to make an announcement. The kids who were rolling the ball from the outside had started going a little too fast. Their parents got them to slow down. I said, “Kids, Bishop Stika plans to retire in this diocese, not die here!”

I had turned my back toward the loudspeakers so that I wouldn’t hear myself as much. There’s a noticeable delay when the speakers are over 100 yards away. Because I was facing the wrong way, I didn’t see the Bishop headed straight toward me. Fortunately Deacon Sean Smith saw his boss rolling our way and got me to move just in time.

After the close call, I said into the microphone, “If anyone got a picture of me almost being run over by a bishop in a hamster ball, please send it to me!” A nice lady named Sarah Grimes came over and immediately shared her video with me.

I edited the two videos together. Look for the near miss at the :55 second mark, right before Deacon Sean says, “Okay that’s enough, I gotta keep him alive!”

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