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The diocese's House of Formation is one step closer to becoming a reality. On March 8, Bishop Anthony B. Taylor blessed the ground at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Little Rock where the house for seminarians and discerners will be located.
Also on hand for the groundbreaking were Msgr. Scott Friend, vocations director, and Msgr. Richard Oswald, associate vocations director, who will live in the house when it opens this fall. Members of the Serra Club, Knights of Columbus and Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Hot Springs Village also attended. The Knights and Sacred Heart Church have made financial contributions to the construction.
Shielded from the rain, Bishop Taylor said like the strong foundation needed to build the House of Formation, the men living in the home also need a good foundation to become priests.
"This House of Formation is an investment in our future," Bishop Taylor said. "It will provide us a way for a solid foundation for those who want to be priests...That foundation is spiritual, it is human. It involves every aspect of the person's life...We trust in the Lord to bring forth vocations from our midst...Today we are laying a foundation. This foundation is obviously material, but it is also spiritual."
Father Richard Zawadzski, Good Counsel's pastor, was unable to attend the groundbreaking but wrote a letter read by parish council member Ernie Moix. "We believe that this new home will bear many good fruits and be mutually beneficial for our parish and the Diocese of Little Rock," the pastor wrote.
Since 2009 discerners and seminarians studying at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock have lived together while they are discerning their call to the priesthood or getting English language education. Initially, the diocese rented a four-bedroom house and then in 2011 the men were moved temporarily to St. John Center while the permanent home could be constructed.
The 6,000-square-foot building will be located on the site of the former convent. It will include a chapel, kitchen, meeting room/library, dining room, common area, 10 student rooms and two priest apartments. The building is estimated to cost $900,000, not including the site work and furnishings.
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