Parish History 1975-1989

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Vigil Mass Begins Every Saturday:  Up until now, the Anticipatory Mass was only offered in the summer months.  But as of May 3, 1975, the Saturday evening Mass was offered every week at 7:15pm.  The priest would stay overnight in the mobile home, offering a Sunday morning Mass before returning to Engleburg.


Aug-Nov 1975    Rev. Joseph Quinn











St. Michael’s and St. Mary’s served by the same priest:  Before Fr. Quinn came in August of 1975, St. Michael’s of Hardy was a Mission served by the pastor from Engleberg, and St. Mary’s in Horseshoe Bend was a Mission served by the pastor from Batesville.  St. Michael’s and St. Mary’s, for the first time, shared a priest.  Fr. Quinn was the Priest in Charge of both Missions for only 3 months.


In November of 1975 we bid Fr. Quinn goodbye and welcomed our new “Priest in Charge”, Fr. Venantius Preske:

1975-82 Rev. Venantius Preske











Rev. Venantius Preske:   On October 23, 1975, Fr. Venantius Preske, formerly a Glenmary Missionary, was accepted into the diocese by Bishop McDonald on a 3-year trial basis.  In November he was assigned as “Priest in Charge” of the two Missions, St. Michael’s in Hardy and St. Mary’s in Horseshoe Bend.  According to Fr. Preske, St. Mary’s was the larger of the two congregations, so it was in Horseshoe Bend that he resided.  St. Michael’s owned a mobile home in Hardy in which Fr. Preske sometimes stayed overnight. (Fr. Preske lived out his retirement years in Horseshoe Bend because of the fond memories of his time as pastor of both parishes. He died November 9, 2014.)


First Bulletin:  The first Parish Bulletin was distributed this year.  (Our guess is Fr. Preske’s housekeeper, who helped him with secretarial duties and also taught Religious Ed Classes, was the person who typed it.)


Mission Designated as a “Parish”: In December of 1975, Fr. Preske petitioned Bishop McDonald to consider raising both Missions to the canonical status of “Parishes”.  On December 10, 1976, after boundary lines had been drawn, the Parishes of St. Mary of the Mount and St. Michael were officially established and Fr. Preske designated “Administrator” of both.




























Number of Registered Families in 1976:  157


St. Michael’s Family Group:  In 1976, a Youth and Adult Advisory Group was formed, later known as the Family Group.  Their main function became the management and funding, through fundraisers, of the social activities of the parish, ie:  Christmas and Easter celebrations, annual parish picnic, Summer Bible School for the children, etc.


Vacation Bible School:  During the Summer of 1976, the First Vacation Bible School was organized for parish children conducted by Srs. Geraldine and Conrad from Holy Angels Convent.


Catholic Youth Organization (CYO):  A chapter of the National CYO was formed at St. Michael’s on March 20, 1977.  The teenagers of the parish were all invited to be part of the CYO.  They held an annual car wash, and other fundraisers, allowing them to attend the CYO Youth Conventions around the state.


Fr. Preske celebrates his Silver Jubilee Anniversary:  On May 29, 1977, Fr. Preske celebrated his 25th Anniversary (actual anniversary date is May 31st).  Mass was celebrated at St. Mary’s in Horseshoe Bend with Bishop McDonald and former Bishop Fletcher, as well as other diocesan priests and his brother priest, Fr. Felix Preske.  Liturgical Music was provided by St. Michael’s Choir.  Dinner was held at a nearby restaurant.

Fr. Preske – 25th Anniversary – May 29, 1977
Fr. Preske’s Anniv. Dinner – seen here flanked by Bishop McDonald (left) and Bishop Fletcher (right), also to his right is his brother, Fr. Felix Preske)












Knights of Columbus Formed:  On July 20, 1977, a pre-organizational meeting was held to form a council of the Knights of Columbus. The name chosen for this new council was the Saint John Neumann Council of the Knights of Columbus.  On August 24, 1977, the new Council was formed with the admission of 16 new members, 9 members transferring from other councils, and 6 members re-instating.  The Knights of Columbus dedicate service to church, family, community, youth and the elderly.  In May of 1978, competing against 697 other councils, they received the Star Council Award for 1977-78, and a Knights of Columbus Day in May was declared by the Mayor of Hardy.


Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (DCCW):   An organization of Catholic Women was formed in the North Deanery of the Diocese on November 14, 1977.  This new district of DCCW, the North Deanery, was comprised at this time of St. Michael’s of Hardy and St. Peter’s of Mountain Home.   The work of the DCCW covered a wide range of activities from Liturgy, to Communities, to International and Organizational projects at local, state, national and international levels.


Resolution for Building the New Church in Cherokee Village:  On August 10, 1976, a resolution was adopted by the Parish Council that St. Michael’s Parish be moved from its present location to a more suitable one as soon as reasonably possible.  Cooper Communities, Inc, who were developing Cherokee Village, were offering plots of land to the area churches to build in Cherokee Village.  Three sites were offered to St. Michael’s Church:  Commercial Park Site along Hwy 62, Town Center or Thunderbird Center. That fall, the Commercial Park Site was selected as the new Church site. A building committee was set up consisting of Robert F. Clark, Cliff Rowland, Paul Ruez, Harry Kresse, Richard Fink and Joe O’Brien.  The early meetings of 1977 were taken up with ways of appropriating monies for building a new church and studies of tentative plans and sketches.  The first submittal to the Diocese, for their permission to build, was carried down to Little Rock in early June. That June, the firm of Brackett and Krennerich of Jonesboro was engaged to architect the plans for the new church, for the second submittal to the Diocese.  On July 20th, a parish meeting was held; the dream of a new church became a reality when the Parish Council approved the architect’s plans for the new Church.  By September the approval of the third and final presentation to the Diocesan Building Commission was received by Robert F. Clark, Chairman of the Building Committee. Clifford Rowland, as Chairman of the Building Finance Committee, had arranged interim financing and a resolution was passed by the council authorizing him and Rev. Venantius Preske to sign notes in the name of St. Michael’s Church.  A Memorial Program was put into effect and advertisements were sent out for Contractor bids on the new church. Our Patron, St. Michael, came to the rescue in January of 1978 when Parker Construction Company of Marion, Arkansas, was awarded the building contract.


Ground Breaking:  The groundbreaking ceremony was conducted on the site, at 11:30 a.m., on Sunday, February 26, 1978, by Fr. Preske with parishioners and guests.  Wesley Parker of Parker Construction Company, George Krennerich of the Architecture Firm, Hale Jackson of Cooper Communities, Inc. and Robert F. Clark, Building Chairman, turned the first earth at the site.  A dinner to celebrate the groundbreaking was held at the Italian Villa, where speeches and good food prevailed.








The new church was designed to preserve the character of its sloping, wooded site. Seating for 380 in the main auditorium on the upper level and a chapel with seating for 45.  The total area in the upper level was 9,500 sq. feet, with 3,786 sq. feet in a partial basement. The lower level had a hall, kitchen, mechanical and utility spaces, and restrooms.








The plaque inside front door in CV
Cornerstone from the old church in Hardy










Aerial picture of the new church










Sanctuary Windows in the new church in CV:












Original cabinets to hold the Holy Family Statues brought from the church in Hardy:












New corner cabinet made for Mary and St. Joseph with the baby Jesus:










Baptistry with Paschal Candle:
(note – Tabernacle can be seen through the windows into the “Blessed Sacrament Chapel” (now Cry Room)












Small altar in Bl. Sacrament Chapel which holds the Tabernacle was later moved to the Sanctuary to the left of the main Altar:











Rectory Purchased:  A special Parish Council meeting was held on May 15, 1978, and resolved to purchase the Doust House near the church for a rectory.  Subsequently, the mobile home which was used for a rectory was sold.


First Mass:  The first Mass in the new church was offered on February 4, 1979.


Dedication of the New Church in Cherokee Village:  On March 11, 1979, Bishop Andrew McDonald Dedicated the new church building.  At that same ceremony, the Bishop officially incardinated Fr. Preske into the Diocese of Little Rock and appointed him “Pastor” of both St. Michael’s and St. Mary’s Parishes.  A Luncheon was held following the Dedication of the Church at the nearby Elk’s Lodge.





< Click here to read inside Program










< Click here to read article











Altar Society Christmas Bazaars:  In 1971, the Altar Society began holding annual Christmas Bazaars to raise money for vestments, candles, and other items needed at church for the offering of Mass.  This was the Altar Society’s main fundraiser each year.  The woman of the parish made their homemade crafts all year long to sell at the annual Bazaar.  The event was held each 1st Saturday in November and included activities for children and adults, as well as a Luncheon.  The annual Christmas Bazaar continued through 2007 after which they explored other means of fundraising, including Country Breakfasts, Rummage Sales, Bake Sales with Silent Auctions, Bingo Fundraisers, even Bakeless Bake Sales.  Membership in the Altar Society grew smaller and fundraisers became more difficult.  In 2017, the Finance Committee approved a 2nd collection three times a year to benefit the Altar Society.

Last Bazaar in the old church in Hardy – 1977:











The first of many church Bazaars in the new Cherokee Village Church – 1979:










Bazaar 1985:









Bazaar 1987:










Vacation Bible School:  Vacation Bible School was held during the summer, on and off throughout the years.  In 1980, Vacation Bible School was held for 2 weeks.  Classes were held for 55 students, grades Kindergarten through 8th grade.  The high school students and parents assisted the teachers,  Srs. Geraldine Homer, Conrad Frankenberger, and Kathleen Blanchard from Holy Angels Convent, along with Sr. Elizabeth Bornhoft (Cecilia Orosz’ sister) from CA.

Vacation Bible School 1980









Our Parish Deacons:


On November 7, 1981, Robert Clark and Cliff Rowland were graduates of the first Diocesan Diaconate Class.

Virginia and Dc. Bob Clark on the left; Dc. Cliff and Mary Lou Rowland on the right



1981 – 2002   Dc. Robert Clark
Dc. Bob and Virginia Clark




Dc. Bob died in 2002 while still active in ministry at St. Michael’s.  Virginia stayed in Cherokee Village for a few more years, then moved to Jonesboro be closer to children.







1981 – 1983   Dc. Clifton Rowland
Dc. Cliff and Mary Lou Rowland




Dc. Clifton‘s ministry was short.  His wife, Mary Lou, died in August of 1982, and Clifton died in May of 1983.  They were both only in their mid-60’s.








1980s Dc. Victor Stepka
Dc. Vic





Dc. Vic transferred to the Jonesboro area.









1994 – 2002   Dc. Mike Cumnock
Dc. Mike and Sarah Cumnock



Dc. Mike was ordained in 1986.  He was originally assigned to serve at St. Mary’s Church in Batesville, then was transferred here in 1994.  Dc. Mike was in a bad car accident in 2002 which took a long time to recover from.  In 2006 he was ready to serve again and was reassigned to Batesville.   Dc. Mike and Sarah later moved to Hot Springs, AR, where he is presently serving (2021) at St. Mary’s Church.







1996 – 2005   Dc. Anthony Ludolph
Dc. Tony & Dolores Ludolph



Dc. Tony and Dolores introduced the “Schoenstat” devotion here.  In 2005, while still active in ministry here, they decided to move back to San Antonio, where they were originally from; they care for a small Schoenstat Shrine there. 






2000 – 2014   Dc. James Thompson
Dc. Jim and Helene Thompson



Dc. Jim retired from active ministry at St. Michael’s around 2010 due to physical limitations.  He and Helene remained in Cherokee Village until 2014 when they moved to Michigan to live with their daughter.  Dc. Jim died in 2017 from Renal failure; Helene died in 2019 from complications of dementia.







2005 – 2015 Dc. Raymond Siwek
Dc. Ray and Marie Siwek



Dc. Ray and Marie moved to Cherokee Village in 2005.  He was only able to serve as a deacon for a couple of years due to physical limitations.  He and Marie remained in Cherokee Village until Ray’s death in 2015.  Marie then moved to assisted living in Georgia to be closer to children.









In June of 1982, we bid farewell to Fr. Preske and welcomed our new pastor Fr. Herman Blatz.

Farewell Party for Fr. Preske











1982-84 Rev. Herman Baltz












Rev. Herman Baltz:  Fr. Baltz was a native of Pocahontas.  He made it known that he always wanted to go sky gliding, so Dorothy Wege made him a glider on a stick (see picture below).  Fr. Baltz had some serious health issues and died following surgery in August of 1987.  He was only 40 years young.  RIP!


Fr. Baltz  – Dec ’82 with glider made by Dorothy Wege












Carillon Chimes Donated:  In December of 1982, Dc. Cliff Rowland donated Chimes in memory of his wife, Mary Lou.  The bells were set at certain times of the day to chime the hour, followed by a tune.  The cabinet where the mechanics for the chimes were housed was behind the altar backdrop.  The music was reel to reel.  In the early 2000s, the unit had not worked for several years, so we decided to have it repaired, but it didn’t last long.  The technology had changed so much, everything was going digital.  We could have replaced the unite entirely, to the tune of many thousands of dollars, but with some neighbors complaining when we had them going again, that the chimes disturbed them, the decision was made not to purchase new ones.  When the new metal roof was put on in 2011, the speakers that projected the chimes were taken down.  And when the sanctuary was remodeled in 2013, the metal cabinet behind the altar backdrop was removed allowing for more storage space back there.


In June of 1984, we bid farewell to Fr. Baltz and welcomed our new pastor, Fr. Fred Zarilli.

1984-85 Rev. Fredrick Zarilli












In June of 1985, we bid farewell to Fr. Zarilli and welcomed our new pastor, Fr. Francis Malone.


Farewell Party for Fr. Zarilli
Farewell Party for Fr. Zarilli











1985-86 Rev. Francis Malone
Welcome Party for Fr. Malone












Fr. Francis Malone:  Fr. Malone graduated from Law School in 1989 with a degree in Canon Law.  He was later elevated to Monsignor and served as Chancellor for Ecclesial Affairs for the Diocese of Little Rock.  In December of 2019, Pope Francis elected Msgr. Malone as the new Bishop of Shreveport, LA; his installation was January 28, 2020 (see the section for the year 2020).


Easter 1986:   Easter was celebrated with a new Risen Christ Tapestry and lots of Tulips, which were planted around the property and along the sidewalks.












In June of 1986, we bid farewell to Fr. Malone and welcomed our new pastor, Fr. Ralph Esposito.

Farewell Party for Fr. Malone










1986-92 Rev. Ralph Esposito











Fr. Ralph Esposito was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Pittsburg where he served for several years before incardinating into the Diocese of Little Rock in 1981.  When he retired in 2002, he returned to Pennsylvania to live out his retirement closer to family.  There he enjoyed his hobbies of painting, drawing, traveling, and writing.  He died 5/14/21.


Director of Religious Education:  Sr. Cecilia Shannon, OSB, of Holy Angels Convent, was assigned as DRE.


Octoberfest:  In 1986, the Men’s Club offered the first annual Octoberfest.


Ceiling Fans:  In 1897, ceiling fans for the church were donated by Estelle Bradtke.


Marian Grotto:  On May 29, 1988, Fr. Esposito dedicates the Marian Grotto on the church grounds.  The statue of Our Blessed Mother was donated by Joe and Irene Kollross.












Garage Added to Church Property:  One thing the church lacked was storage.  In 1998 a 3-stall garage was added to the church property in the upper parking lot.  This became the storage for church decoration and supplies, as well as outside grounds maintenance tools.  The KCs put a freezer in here as well for overflow, especially when there was a parish event they were providing the food for.  It is said that Fr. Ralph used to work on cars in there with some of the youth from the parish.


KC’s Oktoberfest 1988:  In 1988, the Knights of Columbus took over the organization of the Oktoberfest (spelled with a “K” now).


Fr. Esposito’s Birthday:  In 1989 we celebrated Fr. Ralph’s birthday, his twin brother came for the occasion!


Golden Jubilee Mass:  On July 16, 1989, St. Michael’s celebrated 50 years since the first Mass with a Golden Jubilee Celebration and Mass.   Click here to read the Cherokee Villager newspaper article.

Present were Bishop McDonald (seated center), and pastors: Fr Preske (seated on far right), Fr Esposito (current pastor, seated to left of Bishop), and Fr. Mawhorr (seated to the right of Bishop, he filled in for a couple of months when a pastor was ill).  Standing are Dcs Stepka and Clark, along with some Benedictine Sisters from Jonesboro (including  Sr. Philippa Wavrick, center, daughter of Godfrey and Martha Wavrick, founding family).


Outdoor Christmas Decorations 1989:









RCIA:  Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults began here in 1989.  These are the official classes now conducted in the Catholic Church for the instruction of adult Catechumens (those who are unbaptized) and adult Candidates (baptized Christians of other denominations) who wish to join the Catholic Church.  The classes run from September to Easter, with Catechumens and Candidates being received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil Mass.