Home Improvement

The Diocese of Knoxville unveiled its plans for a new cathedral on Sunday. Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish hosted a picnic on the lawn and parking lot where the new cathedral will be built. Different tents housed artists’ renderings of the site map, floor plan and street view of the new building. The Chillbillies, the band that includes NFL-veteran-turned-judge Tim Irwin, played party music.

The capital campaign for the diocese provides money for individual parishes; for a fund to help the poor; for the retirement fund for priests and nuns; for Catholic education; and for a new cathedral. The name for the overall campaign is “Home.” My parish, All Saints, will use its money from the Home campaign for the expansion of meeting and educational space and to eliminate the parish debt. Construction has already started on the additions to the parish offices at All Saints.

The first two things I noticed on the proposed cathedral floor plan were the columbarium and the crypt. The columbarium will house ashes of parishioners who wish to be interred there. The crypt will be the burial space for bishops who either retire as Bishop of Knoxville or who die in office. Major Gift Committee member Jerry Bodie said we were standing over the spot where the crypt would be located. I pretended to take a picture of the asphalt as a joke. Bishop Richard Stika said he hopes to retire as Knoxville’s bishop when he turns 75, which means he would be eligible for one of the nine planned burial spots in the crypt.

The price tag for the first phase of the campaign is $25 million, which goes to build the cathedral and renovate the old cathedral into meeting space. The current plan calls for future expansion to build two side chapels in the north and south transepts. If the campaign exceeds its goal by enough money, they will build the transepts during the initial construction rather than add them on later. The second phase of the project will focus on improvements to Sacred Heart Cathedral School.

The ceremonial groundbreaking for the new building will take place on April 19, 2015, the Third Sunday of Easter. Actual construction will wait until June so that school will not be in session.

The honorary co-chairs for the Home campaign are UT president Dr. Joe DiPietro and UT football coach Butch Jones and his wife Barb. The general co-chairs are Scripps VP of Sales Bruce Hartmann and wealth management advisor Dugan McLaughlin.

Fr. David Boettner, rector of the cathedral, will be traveling this week to look at church furnishings from closed parishes in the upper midwest. Bishop Stika told me that his friend Cardinal Timothy Dolan has a storage facility in New York with furnishings from that archdiocese’s closed parishes. Cardinal Dolan recently donated several items to a diocese in Sri Lanka. Bishop Stika hopes to obtain a few items for the new Sacred Heart Cathedral. I told the bishop that I love the idea of bringing antique church furniture out of storage and into the growing and vibrant Diocese of Knoxville. To me, it speaks to the eternal nature of the Church.

 WATE, WBIR and WVLT all sent reporters to cover the event. I told my wife that Kendall Morris of WBIR is a former Miss Texas. My wife said, “Well, you know Kristin Farley is here too!” In my photo, you can see the lovely Ms. Farley in the center of the crowd wearing a khaki skirt.

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