Deacon Bo McAllister had followed several career paths. First in the Army as an aviator. Then as an attorney and lay ministry director.
Thirteen years ago he was asked by then-Bishop J. Peter Sartain to be the chancellor for canonical affairs and he returned to college to get a canon law degree. Exactly 21 years after joining the Diocese of Little Rock he retired Jan. 30.
McAllister, 68, a Newport native, said he is looking forward to seeing his adult children, Wendy and Marcus, more and taking cruises with his wife Vicki.
Arkansas Catholic interviewed McAllister in his office Jan. 28 following a good-bye Mass and lunch at St. John Center in Little Rock.
Why are you retiring now?
Health and it’s time. My diabetes doctor has been trying to get me to retire from the stress for the last four or five years. I’ve worked for 60 years. We want to travel more if we can afford it.
How has diabetes affected you?
When I started working here I was on insulin for four years. … I need to get away from the stress because that affects my blood sugars. … When I was on a 30-day cruise, my numbers were good, really good. The doctor saw that.
I am 90 percent medically disabled. I have different ailments because of Agent Orange … My heart problems I have had, that is all related to Agent Orange. … I was in Vietnam just a year. We carried Agent Orange on the helicopter.
You are a military veteran, civil lawyer, deacon and former lay ministry director. How would you describe your journey as an adult?
Interesting. The last 21 years have been the most fulfilling. In the military I was gone so much. I was a regular Army officer. With the Vietnam War and being separated from Vicki and the kids, the kids didn’t know me. The kids were afraid of me.
When you took your current job, you had to go back to school for several summers to get your canon law degree. Was that difficult?
We were used to the separation in the military, but it didn’t make it easy and it didn’t make us like (it). The bishop asked and I said yes. Vicki was OK with it. It was interesting studying canon law. It is totally different than studying civil law.
Most people probably don’t know what a chancellor for canonical affairs does or that our diocese has one. What have been your daily responsibilities?
I support the bishop and I do what the bishop needs me to do. I am supposed to be the keeper of the records and that includes the archives. In our diocese, the office also handles all the paperwork for marriages, people getting married. With my canon law degree, I work on the other end in the tribunal too. For every marriage that takes place in the state, the marriage preparation packet has to come to my office and I get to see parts of it. … (For other duties) I have been there when the parish council couldn’t get along with the pastor and building issues sometimes. I was never (in a parish) when everyone was happy.
What will you miss most working for the Diocese of Little Rock?
Working with the bishop and helping the people. It’s been really satisfying to work out the difficulties people are having with getting married and getting a wedding set up.
As far as your deacon duties, parishioners will still see you at Christ the King, right?
Yes, at 75 you can ask to retire. You noticed I said “ask” to retire.
People that know you know you love fun neckties. How did that come about? Describe your favorite tie for our readers.
I have a green leprechaun tie. It has all the sequins. … (In the courtroom) I had a Wizard of Oz tie with the Wicked Witch and the female judge asked me if I was trying to make a statement to the court with my tie. I promised her I would never wear the tie in her courtroom again. I used to love to get the Save the Children ties because I thought that was a good cause. St. Vincent (Infirmary gift shop) used to sell them and I would stop in there once a month to see if they had any new ones. I think I bought every one they had. … A guy sent me about a dozen Disney ties. I have gotten away from those in the past few years and gotten a little more conservative.
You mentioned you like cruises. Why do you like that type of vacation?
Bo: There is no phone.
Vicki: You take your hotel room with you. You put your clothes away and put the suitcases away and you are ready to go for the next two weeks or for however long you are gone.
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