Bishop J. Mark Spalding closed the annual Chrism Mass on Tuesday, March 30, by announcing papal honors for two priests who have been given the title of Monsignor and two lay people who have received one of the Church’s highest honors.
He also announced the names of a new parish and school planned for the Nolensville area.
Bishop Spalding announced that Pope Francis has honored David Glascoe and Theresa Patterson with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal. The medal, one of the most distinguished honors bestowed in the Catholic Church, is given by the Holy Father to recognize and celebrate especially distinguished service to the Church.
The bishop called Glascoe and Patterson “true servants of those in need.”
Glascoe recently retired after working for the diocese for 40 years, including as director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Nashville’s Refugee Resettlement Program, the St. Mary Child Development Center, Villa Maria Manor, and the founding Executive Director of Mary, Queen of Angels Assisted Living Facility. Glascoe has also served on numerous boards in the diocese.
The bishop called him “a man of impeccable work ethic and dedication, and a champion of service for the poor and elderly.”
Patterson, the founding executive director of the Haiti Parish Twinning Program – now known as the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas – and the Visitation Hospital Foundation in Haiti, “has been a lifelong servant of the poorest and most marginalized,” Bishop Spalding said. She has received international acclaim for her work in Haiti, “which has formed bonds of Christian fraternity and friendship across the globe centered around corporal works of mercy for those in great need,” he added.
The bishop also announced that Pope Francis has appointed Father Michael Johnston and Father Stephen Gideon as Chaplains of His Holiness with the title of Monsignor.
Bishop Spalding called the two priests “examples of long faithful service and love for the Church and diocese,” noting that both chose to forego retirement to answer the needs of the Church.
Msgr. Johnston, ordained in 1970, served as a high school principal, vocations director and pastor of two large and active parishes, St. Stephen and St. Henry, before retiring. After Bishop David Choby died in 2017, Msgr. Johnston was elected as the diocesan administrator as the diocese prepared for the arrival of a new bishop, which turned out to be Bishop Spalding.
“Mike was such a great help to me when I came here three years ago,” Bishop Spalding said. “There’s a special place in my heart that will always be for Mike.”
Msgr. Gideon was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in 1976, converted to Catholicism and was ordained a priest for the diocese in 1997. He was the pastor of St. Christopher Church in Dickson and St. John Vianney Church in Gallatin, while also serving for 15 years as the Master of Ceremonies for both Bishops Choby and Spalding “with incredibly hard work and unmatched attention to detail,” Bishop Spalding said.
“He has always had a special dedication to supporting seminarians, which continues now,” the bishop added. Msgr. Gideon serves as the Formation Director, Director of Worship and Instructor of Liturgical Theology at the Seminaries of St. Paul at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The bishop used the occasion to announce developments concerning a new parish and school in the rapidly growing Nolensville area, long a dream of the diocese.
“If all goes well with our ongoing property development and our work with Williamson County and other entities, this summer I plan to formally dedicate St. Michael Academy, which will be the school, and Mother Teresa Parish in Nolensville,” Bishop Spalding said.
The parish acquired property for the new parish in 2020.
Father Anthony Stewart, associate pastor of Holy Family Church in Brentwood, has been helping lay the groundwork for the new parish.
Bishop Spalding announced that he plans to appoint Father Stewart as the new parish’s first priest, following the recommendation of the Priest Personnel Board.
“This young priest has said yes to a mighty project,” Bishop Spalding said. After listening to Father Stewart make a presentation on establishing the Nolensville parish, the bishop said, “I knew we have a man, a priest, who could lead our people down there.”
Bishop Spalding presented Father Stewart with a relic of Mother Teresa, who was canonized a saint in 2016, for the new parish.
The bishop also thanked Father Joe McMahon, pastor of Holy Family, who has been involved in the work of establishing a parish in Nolensville from the beginning, as well as the people of Holy Family who have supported the effort.
The Chrism Mass each year is highlighted by the renewal of promises by the priests of the diocese and the blessing of the sacramental oils used throughout the year, including the Oil for the Holy Chrism, the Oil of the Sick, and the Oil of Catechumens.
In 2020, the Chrism Mass was postponed because the public celebration of Masses had been suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve been given a rough year here in Nashville. We’ve been through a lot,” Bishop Spalding said in his homily. In the future, some will remember the year and “see something dark and difficult, sometimes anxious, sometimes angry,” he said.
“But just as much as we can look back on the time and see dark, we can see light and courage and compassion,” Bishop Spalding said.
“Our responsibility on this earth is to take our blessings and share them with others,” he said. “Here we believe in a light, a light shown by Christ, a light revealed in the service of others. …
“Be a person of light for others,” Bishop Spalding added. “Reach out to them and love them.”
“When we use those blessings of faith, hope and love,” Bishop Spalding said, “our world is made so much better.”