Today starts the Diocese of Knoxville's first Eucharistic Congress in celebration of 25 years of Catholicism in East Tennessee. Who cares if it is Friday the 13th? What fear have we of superstitions when we have something greater - a living God?
The local newspaper, the News-Sentinel, has an article about it and was is telling is not only our growth in the number of Catholics in the area - in 1988, we were less than 1% and have grown to being 2.6% of the population today - but that for a small, mission diocese, we have this:
Perhaps the most startling local statistic is that East Tennessee is producing new priests at a rate far above the national average.
The diocese has ordained 41 priests in the last 25 years, but currently there are 22 more men in seminary or pre-seminary training from the East Tennessee area.
Officials say that’s five times the national average.
A seminarian whom I know, Tony Budnick, mentions in the article the support of the priests in the diocese. I would add there is also the support of the people, too. As an example, at my parish, St. Albert the Great, each ministry in the parish adopts a seminarian for the month and makes sure a care package is sent to encourage them. It is not that hard, but it is the little things like that, that show pastoral care - which teaches a would-be priest how to do that. Better formation, better priests, it really is that simple.
But for me - this morning I have to go pick up an extra camera body (5D Mark III) and lens (16-25mm f/2.8) to supplement my gear because I am part of the East Tennessee Catholic's media team. So if you're at the Congress and see a woman walk by in a black polo shirt with the above crest in the front and "Audio/Video" on the back, with three cameras slung around her neck and a bunch of gear stowed in the pockets of her tactical pants . . . yeah, it's me. Come up and say howdy, especially if you are from out-of-town since we want to do a story on those who traveled from afar to help us celebrate.
Oh, and the official hash tag to tweet from the Congress is #dioknoxec. The Twitter for the diocese is @knoxdiocese. You can follow me at @saricher.
One thing I will be covering is Dr. Scott Hahn's talk. Which means when I introduce myself, it will likely be:
(Just heard his talk on CD on the Eucharist and mind = blown. When I realized what happened when Christ said, "It is finished," on Calvary, and the Passover liturgy, I just kept saying, "Oh, wow.")