The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

Texarkana church on foundation in city for 100 years

Bishop Taylor starts year with centennial, confirmation Masses

Published: May 4, 2023   
Courtesy Father William Burmester
Bishop Anthony B, Taylor confirms Maria Daniela Ramirez during St. Edward Church’s confirmation Mass in Texarkana April 23, while Father William Burmester (right) looks on. Twenty-one candidates were confirmed that day.

St. Edward Church in Texarkana marked the parish’s centennial in 2003 but wanted to also celebrate the centennial of its building this year.

“It is the difference between 100 years of the community and 100 years of stability,” said pastor Father William Burmester.

The church, located on the Arkansas side of the Miller County town, was founded June 20, 1903, under Bishop Edward M. Fitzgerald with its first Mass celebrated in the county courthouse. On Christmas that year, a small chapel was dedicated for parishioners to attend Masses. The young parish would use this chapel until the current sanctuary was built in 1923.

The current sanctuary was dedicated by Bishop John Baptist Morris in a pontifical High Mass April 8, 1923. More than 600 people attended the Mass and ceremony.

Kelli Nugent, director of faith formation at St. Edward, said, “It is going to be a yearlong (celebration) with an opening and closing.”

Deacon Greg Casteel said, “We began our celebrations on April 29 with a parish picnic-style meal and activities.”

Activities included food, bounce houses, a petting zoo, helium balloons and an historical display.

Similar activities will take place throughout the year, including a Bunco fundraiser, potluck and prayer services in various languages.

Father Burmester also is arranging visiting priests to celebrate Mass on the third weekend of every month. 

“Most of them have been previous pastors at the church, but some of them are Archbishop (J. Peter) Sartain, our vicar general Father John Connell and our vocations director (Father Jeff Hebert),” he said.

According to Nugent, other priests to visit are Father Greg Luyet, Msgr. Scott Friend, Father Balaraju Desam and Father John Antony.

Bishop Anthony Taylor celebrated two Sunday Masses at St. Edward April 23, conferring the sacrament of confirmation on 21 candidates and kicking off the church building’s centennial celebration. (See homily in bishop's column)

Bishop Taylor’s use of the chrism oil at the April 23 confirmation Mass had an added significance that unites the past with the present.

Father Burmester said, “As a priest, it’s pretty cool because chrism oil is used on the altar, used at our confirmation on our foreheads and is used on the top of your head at baptism. [It] is the same chrism oil that blessed the altar 100 years ago.”

The pastor said the church is making plans for what is next for St. Edward and its facilities.

“We want to build a new parish hall, maybe we can get some new offices, an adoration chapel that’s a little bit bigger, because right now only one person or two people can fit in it,” Father Burmester said. “Maybe more classrooms or Outreach Center (now feeding 150 homeless people a day) which has been incredible for our ministry … There’s just a lot, but now that I’m getting an associate (pastor, John Paul Hartnedy), I can play on that while he helps me with the ministry.”

The new facilities would house the parish’s many expanding ministries that have been supported by Texarkana's growth, particularly on the Texas side, which is where 70 percent of the church’s parishioners reside.

Bishop Taylor wants you to know more about your faith and the Church: Sign up for Arkansas Catholic's free digital edition.

Please read our Comments Policy before posting.

Article comments powered by Disqus