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Diocese of Little Rock celebrates sesquicentennial in 1993 - Arkansas Catholic - November 19, 2011
The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

Diocese of Little Rock celebrates sesquicentennial in 1993

Time Capsule 1992-1994A 33-part series on history mined from the first 100 years of Arkansas Catholic and its predecessors.

Published: November 19, 2011   
Arkansas Catholic file photo
Kari Kemmerer, representing the Catholic youth of the diocese, holds the sesquicentennial torch at the opening ceremonies Nov. 27, 1993, at St. John Center in Little Rock. Moments later, she passed the torch to Clare Wolf of Prairie View, who lit the sesquicentennial flame. Fifty runners, representing different parishes in the diocese, carried the torch in one-mile increments along its eight-hour, 50-mile journey from Plum Bayou.

The Diocese of Little Rock passed a milestone in its history as it turned 150 in 1993, and it looked to stop the growing number of Hispanics leaving the Church.

Catholics in Arkansas continued to work on faith and justice issues, whether it was helping the needy through organizations like Helping Hand or the Westside Free Medical Clinic, developing the ecumenical prison ministry KAIROS in the state or working with migrants to become U.S. citizens.

Girls in Arkansas saw the change of the policy that would not allow them to serve on the altar. The April 23, 1994, issue reported that "Vatican gives approval for using female altar servers; Bishop McDonald says he will permit altar girls following bishops' conference OK." Later that year, the bishop's conference approved the change.

The paper changed its publication date from Sunday to Saturday in 1994. Deb Halter left as editor after four years in 1993 and was replaced by Pete Hoelscher until 1994. In October 1994, Malea Walters Hargett joined Arkansas Catholic as editor.

Spanish Masses

The growing number of Hispanic immigrants to Arkansas saw the need for offering Masses in Spanish.

Other denominations offered services in Spanish, and many Catholics attended to hear services in their native language. The Diocese of Little Rock continued efforts to bring Hispanics back to practicing their Catholic faith, as reported in 1992 in "Hispanic Catholics in Arkansas: A New Tradition."

  • In Arkansas Catholic 1992-1994
    Click here
  • The communication gap between the two communities -- English-speaking and Spanish-speaking was highlighted, and both communities were unsure of how to bridge the gap.

    "We are never going to walk in the shoes of the immigrant," Father Lawrence Brummer, OFM, said. "There's no ill will, it's simply that we don't understand Hispanic culture, customs or the language."

    The differences between practices in Mexico and the United States, where lay people are encouraged to take an active role in ministry, was difficult for Hispanics.

    Carolina Espinoza, 12, from a Honduran family, said, "I love coming to church here because everyone is so nice. The people who come to our Masses and who don't speak Spanish love how we sing. I like that."

    "The Spanish Mass provides an opportunity to hear the Gospel proclaimed in their native tongue and at the same time to share their music and talents with the parish community," Betsy McNeil wrote in the article.

    The Hispanic Ministry office in the diocese continued to build communities around the state. The annual Encuentro continued and grew in popularity. The paper reported on Oct. 8, 1994, that 1,300 Hispanic Catholics attended.

    The first Spanish-language articles in Arkansas Catholic ran on April 23, 1994, in a special "Vocations/Vocaciones" section. Diocesan seminarian Pedro Saldivar wrote "Gracias a Dios no regrese a casa" about his vocation. Two other articles discussed the requirements for holy orders and how to discern a call by God.

    Little Rock Scripture Study also published its first study in Spanish in 1994.

    Diocese turns 150

    The diocese announced plans for sesquicentennial celebration in January 1992 and planning began in earnest. In addition to the diocesan committee, parishes were asked to name a chairperson to help plan parish activities. The theme was "Celebrate the Memory, the Moment and the Mission," and it lasted from November 1993 to November 1994.

    On Nov. 27, 1993, "Hundreds brave cold to kick off sesquicentennial," the paper reported. A sesquicentennial flame was lit to signify the start of the yearlong celebration.

    As part of the "memory" theme, the celebration included publication of a history of the diocese, a television special, a sixth-grade textbook on diocesan history and exhibits of historical and religious items and art. The "moment" theme celebrated parish liturgies, small group programs, Lenten reconciliation programs and sesquicentennial liturgies and prayers. For the "mission" theme, there were youth essay and art programs, parish homecoming events, parish RCIA emphasis, evangelization spotlight and parish open houses

    "Catholics unite to honor 150 years of diocese," the paper reported on Nov. 12, 1994. The sesquicentennial Mass drew 5,000 people to the Statehouse Convention Center on Nov. 6, 1994. Twenty-nine bishops participated in the closing Mass. Bishop Andrew J. McDonald buried a time capsule as a way to wrap up the sesquicentennial celebration, the Dec. 10, 1994, issue reported.

    Clergy abuse

    The Church began to deal with reaction from the clergy sex abuse scandals. In the Sept. 27, 1992, issue, the diocese outlined an abuse policy in "Diocese of Little Rock issues policy statement on pedophilia issue for all employees." In a column in the same issue, Father David LeSieur looked at how issues affect vocations to the priesthood and the backlash to those considering a vocation. Many issues affect vocations to the priesthood, he said, and abuse diminishes trust in that vocation. He also addressed the outlined policy and the need for it in the diocese. "The steps provided in this policy are a compassionate, tough love way of dealing with the reality of sexual abuse in the Church of the 1990s," he said.

    Next week: Stories from 1995-1997

    In Arkansas Catholic 1992-1994


    People of Clinton parish help plan a shelter for Van Buren County

    Helping Hand director retires, recalls career: Sr. Annella Willettt, OSB

    New Catholic center to benefit students at ASU

    Two Catholic hospitals to offer maternity services

    Mexican paintings reflect influence of Church

    Man infected with HIV works to educate black community about danger of AIDS

    After 108 years, Benedictines give care of St. Edward parish to diocese

    National Black Catholic Congress delegates focus on family, youth, especially young male; 10 delegates and 2 observers joined Bishop McDonald from DOLR in New Orleans

    Bishop Andrew J. McDonald celebrates 20th anniversary


    Junior High Spectacular draws 300 to Holy Souls

    20 years after 'Roe' abortion easier to get but harder to handle

    Missionary image to come to Arkansas: Our Lady of Guadalupe

    Kevorkian facing possible homicide charges in latest assisted suicide

    Diocese notes two new developments in Rite of Election, Call to Continuing Conversion

    Charismatic conference draws 700 for worship, fellowship, celebration

    St. Augustine's stations garner national award from liturgy magazine

    Hundreds of youth, adult advisors prepare to leave for World Youth Day '93 in Colorado


    Bishop Graves dies at 77

    Old-world craftsmanship, artistry continues through Ukrainian egg

    KAIROS takes root in state correctional system

    Seamstress' originality, talent put her in demand for vestments

    New Catechism divided into four main parts

    Immaculate Conception adult ed program one of five parishes to receive 'Mustard Seed' award from National Catholic Education Association

    U.S. Catholics responding to Rwanda relief appeals

    Holy Souls School vows to read for 1 million minutes during year


    National Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague, Prague, Okla.: Each day begins with 11 a.m. Mass, novena devotions

  • Click here to see searchable digital archives of The Guardian for 1911-1914, 1921 and 1945.

  • Click here to see the index of stories in Arkansas Catholic's time capsule series.

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