FORT SMITH — Father John Antony is continuing his tradition of writing books to benefit Catholic education in the diocese.
His third book, “Oh, Lord Have Mercy” was just published to benefit Trinity Junior High’s Strike a Match campaign. The “match” is a promise of up to $2.5 million from an anonymous donor for every dollar up to $2.5 million raised by the campaign.
“Our thermometer stands at about $1.7 million,” Father Antony said, “and our goal is to raise $800,000 more to take full advantage of the matching offer.”
The pastor of Immaculate Conception Church is also the administrator of Trinity Junior High School. His first book, “Oh, For the Love of God,” benefitted Immaculate Conception School in Fort Smith and St. Joseph School in Fayetteville in 2014, and his second book, “Oh, For Heaven’s Sake,” benefitted St. Theresa School in Little Rock in 2015.
Of the $5 million overall goal, $3 million was used to buy Trinity’s school building from the Benedictine sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery. The remainder of the funds will be used to renovate the east wing of the building, which had been used as a retreat center; to pay back a $300,000 loan from the Trinity Educational Trust; and to rent the acreage adjacent to Free Ferry Road, still owned by the sisters and used by Trinity’s athletic program.
“Oh, Lord Have Mercy” contains 75 of Father Antony’s witty, succinct and insightful homilies organized around the papal documents of Pope Francis: "Lumen Fidei" (The Light of Faith); "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel); "Laudato Si’" (Praised Be to You); and "Amoris Laetitia" (The Joy of Love). Each homily begins with a Scripture, followed by Father Antony’s reflection, a quote from the encyclical or exhortation and a thought-provoking question.
“I used this format to try to create a conversation between American Catholics and our Argentinian pope,” he said. “I hope to inspire diverse and universal discussion.”
To facilitate the book’s use as a resource for faith-sharing groups and homilists, Father Antony included a scriptural index and a list of works cited in the book.
The Vatican flag and American flag on the book cover reflect the goal of the book: to facilitate a conversation between Pope Francis and modern American Catholics.
The book is available in hardcover for $25 and in softcover for $15 and can be purchased at the Immaculate Conception Church office. For more information on purchasing a book, contact Cindy McNally at or (479) 783-7963.
“Some people have asked me if I could translate this book into Spanish,” Father Antony said. “I would love to, but my only hesitation is that so many of my homilies are culturally rooted, and while it’s easy to translate a language, it’s hard to translate a culture in a meaningful way.”
Father Antony has written a book that serves a dual purpose — striking a match for Trinity Junior High School and sharing Pope Francis’ message of God’s mercy to lead readers to a deeper encounter with God.
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