We aim to be a place of welcome and service to all. All are a part of our family. We greet many dear friends and visitors from all denominations and of no denomination to celebrate the love and healing power of Christ with them. As Mother Teresa said, “Not all can do great things. But we can all do small things with great love.”
St. Teresa (Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu) was born on August 26, 1910 in Skopje, Albania. At age 18 she entered the Sisters of Loretto order in Ireland. In 1929 she was sent to teach in a private school in Calcutta, India. Her solemn vows were taken in 1937.
In 1948 Mother Teresa had received a direct message from Jesus to begin a new order to serve the poor. In 1950 she was given permission to begin a new religious order. She called this a "call within a call". The new community was named Missionaries of Charity and were dedicated to care of the poorest of the poor. The religious order has continued to grow to over 5,000 sisters in 700 missions in over 130 countries. They serve the dying and the poor, including those dying of AIDS and leprosy.
The many honors she received included the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1997. Mother Teresa, after having deep personal communications with Jesus, later experienced a darkness where the "feeling" of God’s presence was absent. Yet, she served in faith and joy until her death on Sept. 5, 1997. She was honored with a rare state funeral as given Mahatma Gandhi. On October 19, 2003 she was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II. She was canonized by Pope Francis on September 4, 2016 and given the title St. Teresa of Kolkata (the current spelling of the city formerly known as Calcutta).
Union County, TN never had a Catholic Church until the Glenmary Home Missioners formed the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Catholic Mission on August 12, 2011 at the invitation of Bishop Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville. Prior to this a group of Glenmarians had held a hearing of some Catholics living in the area to determine the level of interest and support for a catholic church in Union County. One of the founding members, Sally Patten, followed up with a personal letter describing the need to be here.
Fr. Steve Pawelk, Br. Craig Digmann, and Br. Joe Steen were assigned to be the initial team to foster this new mission. Several gatherings were held at the Senior Citizens Center. Later the first known public Mass was held in the resident carport. It was a BYOC, “bring your own chair” event, and 26 people attended. This lead to the search for rental space. Meanwhile, the first Sunday Mass was held in October 2011 at Miller's Chapel United Methodist Church. Masses were held there for the month of October while the storefront property on 4365 Maynardville Hwy, Maynardville, TN was renovated. The first mass in this facility was held on the Feast Day of All Saints, November 1, 2011. On December 12, 2011 the first Mass in Spanish was held with weekly Spanish Masses beginning on the first Sunday of January 2012 with 12 people in attendance.
The first year growth was rapid with the formation of a parish and financial councils and a vibrant faith formation program. In 2012, Fr. Aaron Wessmann was assigned as an associate and served here for two years. During the third year, 2014, discussion of a permanent church began and a building fund was established. In 2015 the community was elevated from a mission church to a parish by Bishop Stika. The Catholic Foundation of East Tennessee purchased land on behalf of the St. Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Community later that year. A major milestone was completed in a short time.
During this time, the community expanded its rental space, in two steps. First; it rented the main structure and an office space. Later it rented the rental unit separating the office space and church. Finally, the last storage unit attached to the building was rented. With no further rental space available, Architects were hired to draw up the master plan which was approved by the Bishop in 2016.
Later, the architectural plan for the first permanent Catholic Church in Union County was completed. Two other significant changes happened. Deacon Larry Rossini was ordained in October 2016. On September 4, 2016 Blessed Teresa of Calcutta was declared a Saint and we officially became St. Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Church.
Besides these steps of physical growth, we have been engaged in a variety of community social and outreach programs. Many folks have received their sacraments here from baptisms, first communion, confirmations to weddings and several funerals. Our faith formation program continues to grow every year. We have received new converts almost every year as well as new members. Some of our attendees are not Catholic and, through not official members, are very much a part of our church family.