The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

Total solar eclipse brings thousands to Arkansas

Visitors gathered alongside Catholic communities to witness rare, heavenly event

Published: April 10, 2024      
Eclipse watchers visit St. Joseph Center in North Little Rock April 8 to view the total solar eclipse. (Sandy DeCoursey)

More than 100 people watched the total solar eclipse from the lawn of St. John Center in Little Rock April 8. Many people had picnic lunches while kids rode on their bikes and scooters and families walked their dogs before and after the eclipse. As the eclipse approached at 1:51 p.m., the crowd applauded and clapped again as the total eclipse passed.

Deacon Marc Rios, manager of St. John Manor, the home for retired diocesan priests, greeted everyone who visited to welcome them to St. John Center and opened the dining hall for anyone who needed a restroom.

“I used it as an opportunity for evangelization,” he said.

The St. Joseph Center in North Little Rock welcomed 80 visitors from in and out of state to watch the eclipse Monday afternoon. Executive director Sandy DeCoursey chatted with visitors and took photos as they gathered on the lawns. 

“The Farmstead at St. Joseph’s offered the perfect setting to watch and experience the eclipse,” DeCoursey said. “At totality, there was a collective gasp as young and old took in this majestic spectacle.” 

Father Andrew Hart, theological consultant for Arkansas Catholic, said it was a “providential connection” that the Annunciation of the Lord also was observed April 8.  

“In Christian imagery, the moon is often a symbol of the Blessed Virgin Mary since she reflects the light of her son Jesus, he who is “the bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16),” he wrote on Facebook. “During today’s eclipse, the moon will stand between the earth and sun, just as Mary intercedes for us with her son, for she is the one through whom God has given him to the world.

“As we look up into the sky today, let’s give thanks for the marvelous creation God has made — and also the even more marvelous work of redemption he has achieved. It was through the ‘fiat’ of his mother Mary that we received our Savior, true God and true man, the one in whom we hope to share eternal life. We don’t need special glasses to behold this Good News — only eyes of faith.”

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