Father Gregory Hart, a diocesan priest for 33 years, died Nov. 14. He was 59.
Father Hart was born in Kennett, Mo., March 12, 1958, to Edward and Christina Kordsmeier Hart. The fifth of six children, the family moved to Little Rock and he attended St. Theresa School and later Catholic High School.
He first felt a desire to enter the priesthood when he was around 5 years old. His Catholic High classmates voted him most likely to enter the seminary, according to a 2009 Arkansas Catholic article. In 1980, he graduated with a philosophy degree from the University of Dallas. That same year, he went to Rome to study for the priesthood at North American College and earned his Licentiate in Sacred Theology in 1985. He was ordained for the Diocese of Little Rock on June 30, 1984.
He was associate pastor at St. Patrick Church in North Little Rock and St. John the Baptist Church in Hot Springs, then pastor at St. Michael Church in West Memphis, St. Peter the Fisherman Church in Mountain Home and Mary Mother of God Church in Harrison. In December 2010, after returning from a five-month sabbatical in Rome, he began serving as pastor at St. Joseph Church in Tontitown. Father Hart brought the Latin Mass back to the Italian community and was instrumental in negotiations to put Ozark Catholic Academy in the Father Pietro Bandini Parish Education Center on campus. The Catholic high school in northwest Arkansas will open in 2018. On Sept. 1, Father Hart was granted a medical leave of absence.
Father Hart had a love of “teaching, fishing, gardening, competing at cards and board games and laughing loudly and often with friends at family gatherings and even in quiet movie theaters,” according to the diocese. He enjoyed pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Marian shrines.
Father Hart is survived by three brothers, Edward Hart of Kansas City, Mo., Thomas Hart of Little Rock and Christopher Hart of Alexandria, Va.; and two sisters, Melanie Riley and Maureen Hart, both of Little Rock.
His Masses of Christian Burial were held Nov. 18 at St. Joseph in Tontitown and Nov. 20 at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock. He was interred at Calvary Cemetery in Little Rock during a private ceremony.
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