St. Teresa of Kolkata breaks ground on permanent church

Posted: 9/5/2017

In Maynardville, Tenn., you'd be forgiven if you didn't notice the present home of St. Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Church.

The church is located in a storefront. To the right is a self-storage facility. To the left is a hair salon. In the center of the long, brown building is a now outdated sign proclaiming it the home of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Church. When the parish was founded, Mother Teresa's canonization was still a few years away.

While the optics may not be ideal, St. Teresa of Kolkata has thrived since Glenmary founded the parish in 2011.

On Sept. 2, Diocese of Knoxville Bishop Richard Stika joined members of the St. Teresa community just a few miles up the road from the storefront church for the official ground breaking of the parish's new home. The new facility will be a dedicated church building with significantly more space.

"Soon the storefront will be a part of history," Bishop Stika said. "And this beautiful church will give glory to God."

Bishop Stika was joined by Glenmary Father Steve Pawelk, pastor of St. Teresa, and Union County Mayor Micheal Williams for the ceremonial ground breaking. Glenmary first vice president Father Neil Pezzulo and Deacon Larry Rossini also had turns with the shovels.

"I'm so grateful to the Glenmary community and to Father Steve and to all of you," Bishop Stika added. "This dream is now becoming a reality."

The last time Glenmary guided a community from having no permanent structure to construction of a new church was in Danville, Ark., in 2005.

Construction is expected to begin in earnest in three to six weeks if all goes well. The expected cost of the church is roughly $800,000. Parishioners raised more than $380,000, as of July 31.
 
When Glenmary started St. Teresa of Kolkata, the first Mass was a "bring-your-own-chair" affair with 26 people in attendance. Now 135 families are registered with a 50-50 spilt in attendance between the English and Spanish Masses. 
 
"Each step is exciting," said Father Steve, who has led the parish from its modest beginnings. "Mostly, I feel gratitude to God, to our donors and to the people here."
 
Brewer Ingram Fuller Architects Inc. is the firm behind the church's design.
 

Following the ground breaking, the parish festival went on despite light rain.

St. Teresa of Kolkata mission includes  English- and Spanish-speaking communities. They mingled together and enjoyed tacos, burgers, tostadas and hot dogs. An auction raised additional money for the building fund and a bagpiper was on hand to greet Bishop Stika and later to entertain children with Irish-sounding renditions of "Rocky Top."

On Sept. 5, three days after the ground breaking, the universal church remembered Mother Teresa on her first feast day since her canonization last year.

Artist rendering of planned new church.
Floor plan of new church.
Glenmary Fr. Neil Pezzulo prays.
Deacon Larry Rossini was the emcee.
Bishop Stika presented with church plans

Artist rendering of planned new church.

Artist rendering of planned new church.