What is the impact Bishop Andrew B. Taylor has had on the Diocese of Little Rock? Arkansas Catholic reached out to priests and diocesan directors to reflect on what they appreciate most about the past 10 years working with the bishop.
“A bishop has so many roles that the public sees and so many more that are carried out in private or in the day-to-day routine of simply showing up in the office or visiting someone in the hospital or chance encounters in restaurants and parking lots. Bishop Taylor is consistently himself in all these settings — open, rooted in his calling, clear in decision-making and courageous in applying the Gospel message to our time. And his wit shows up when least expected, and often most needed. I appreciate that I will always learn something when he preaches and always have something to take to prayer.“
Cackie Upchurch, director of Little Rock Scripture Study
“For me the primary aspect of Bishop Taylor’s first 10 years in Arkansas is his commitment to social justice. Within six months of his becoming our bishop he published a bilingual pastoral letter, ‘I was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me (Fui Forastero y Ustedes Me Recibieron).’ … Whether they are here legally or not, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ and, as Bishop Taylor reminds us in his pastoral letter, Jesus, Mary and Joseph were migrants to Egypt, fleeing an oppressive situation. … I appreciate Bishop Taylor’s commitment to justice for everyone, including the ‘strangers’ in our midst. He cautions us to see the face of Jesus Christ in everyone, including the faces of those who come from outside our borders.”
Msgr. David LeSieur, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul, Rogers
“Bishop Anthony B. Taylor’s arrival to the Diocese of Little Rock has been a great blessing for the state of Arkansas. I especially admire his humility and simplicity and am grateful for his support for all immigrants in this state. Thanks to his actions in favor of the most vulnerable and defenseless, the number of Catholics in the particular Church of Arkansas has increased.”
Father Salvador Vega, pastor of St. Martin, Nashville
“I love many things about Bishop Taylor, especially his homilies, simple lifestyle and brave actions for social justice. I am so proud to have him for our bishop, and many of our sisters in other states are envious, as they don’t have the same experience.”
Sister Joan Pytlik, DC, social justice advocate for diocese
“I appreciate Bishop Taylor because he listens and makes time for me. Sometimes we agree, and sometimes we do not. But, he always listens. He listens in prayer, he listens to people and he leads with the Gospel. He speaks about human life and contraception, about Hispanic ministry and immigration and about reading ‘the signs of the times in the life of faith.’ To paraphrase a famous Englishman — in the spirit and sentiment of the Bishop — we can’t always get what we want, but if we try sometimes, we just might find, we get what we need.”
Father Jason Sharbaugh, associate pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish, Fayetteville
“In 2014 I spent one month and four days at the hospital (when I was in the seminary). Those days were for me painful yet full of love and compassion. Bishop Taylor visited me almost every day and some days he prayed with me and other seminarians too. He always had a good attitude about that illness. I had never seen that kind of bishop before. What bishop visits a seminarian? Bishop Taylor broke my preconceptions about bishops. A humble man also with a deeper charity.”
Father Nelson Rubio, associate pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary, North Little Rock (Marche)
“Bishop Taylor has given me a clear example of what it means to offer one’s time, energy and talents and indeed very life in loving service of God and of neighbor. I think that he is one who strives to always love Jesus.”
Father Jim Fanrak, pastor of Mary Mother of God, Harrison
“Some of Bishop Taylor’s greatest assets are his honesty, his sincerity, his selflessness and his purity of heart.”
Liz Tingquist, director of Youth and Campus Ministry Office
“First he is a good person, who as they say "walks his talk." He sets a good example for his priests and his work ethic is tremendous. And, lastly he gave me opportunity to be a priest.
Father Jack Sidler, Russellville
“About two years ago getting to Christmas, I approached him about St. Augustine's sign. Immediately he said, "I will help you" and he did. That was the best Christmas gift I ever received in my life. Always asking, "Is there anything I can help you with." Thank you my bishop!
Father Francis Damoah, SVD, North Little Rock
“At his very first press conference as our bishop, when he was first introduced as our bishop, Bishop Taylor was asked what he would do if the Arkansas State Legislature passed punitive legislation against undocumented immigrants as was done in Oklahoma. The bishop made it very clear that he would oppose such legislation and that, if passed, he and the Catholic Church of Arkansas would not obey such laws because he said, ‘It is a sin to obey unjust laws.’ I heard that and thought, that just told me everything I need to know about our new bishop. He is willing to take risks for the least powerful and most vulnerable among us.
“One of the things I love most about Bishop Taylor is that he challenges us priests. Jesus seemed to challenge religious leaders a lot. I think the Church is at its best when we, the leaders, and the institution, are challenged, when we challenge ourselves, when we remember that, like Jesus, we are to serve and not be served. I think Bishop Taylor sets a good example of this and he expects us priests to follow his example.”
Father Mark Wood, Little Rock
“Bishop Taylor’s courage to stand up for what the Church teaches in regards to social justice even though it may be in direct conflict with what today’s society is advocating.”
Vernell Bowen, superintendent of Catholic schools
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