.- This morning, the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Msgr. Richard F. Stika of the Archdiocese of St. Louis as bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee. Msgr. Stika will be ordained to the episcopacy on March 19 of this year.
The bishop-elect will fill the position that was left vacant in August 2007 when Bishop Joseph E. Kurtz was appointed Archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky.
Msgr. Stika was born in St. Louis in 1957 and was ordained a priest in 1985. In his years as a priest, he held positions in St. Louis as secretary to Cardinal Justin Rigali (1994-1997), the coordinator of Pope John Paul II’s visit to St. Louis in 1999, the director of the Archdiocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection and most recently as pastor of the Church of the Annunziata in Ladue.
Msgr. Stika will be ordained the third bishop of Knoxville on March 19, 2009 at the Knoxville Convention Center. The consecrating bishop will be Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, who will be assisted by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz and Bishop Robert Shaheen, Bishop of the Maronite Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon.
In a statement, Bishop Robert J. Hermann, administrator of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, noted that the archdiocese is “deeply honored” to have one of its priests appointed “by our Holy Father for the office of Bishop.”
He continued, “While I am very sorry to lose his immediate collaboration here, I am most confident that he will fulfill the weighty responsibilities of his new office in the Church with great distinction. I assure him of my prayers and of the prayers of the faithful of the archdiocese as he prepares to take up his new mission in the Church. May God grant him many happy years as a true shepherd of His flock in the Diocese of Knoxville."
The bishop-elect will serve 56,068 Catholics and 70 priests in the Diocese of Knoxville.