Parish History 2010-2019

NOTE:  Formatting is not suited for a cell phone or tablet-sized screen; therefore, it is best viewed on a computer.



Repair and Restoration Project – Phase II:   Phase II began, which included a new roof, replacing rotted windows above the altar, repair of water damage to the sanctuary ceiling,  painting the main sanctuary, repair and restoration of the stained glass windows that were beginning to sag due to the extreme summer heat, tuckpointing and waterproofing the exterior of the building.  The total estimate was over $110,000.  Parishioners were asked to consider making pledges for a 2 year period.  A loan of $70,000  was obtained from the diocese so the work could begin.  With parishioners pledges and the help of Bingo, we were able to pay off the loan early.  Phase III, expanding the altar and recarpeting, was put on hold for a few years until the diocesan loan was paid.


Parish Audit for Fiscal Year July 2009 – June 2010:

Registered Households:  252

Est. number of Catholics:  488






New Oak Furnishings:  In 2011, several of our altar furnishings were updated.  Note:  These pictures were newly taken, but the oak furnishings were replaced when we still had the orange carpeting throughout the church and before the altar was expanded.

Altar donated in memory of Faye Lassiter
Podium donated in memory of Faye Lassiter












Baptismal Font donated by Klingle, Pieper & Davis Families
Paschal Candle Stand donated by Fr. Tom in memory of his Mother
Ambry donated by the Colles Family
















St. Michael’s cabinet donated in Memory of Elmer Newburn
Sound System Cabinet donated in Memory of Elmer Newburn
Gift and Storage Table (at the back of church) donated in memory of Elmer Newburn















King of Glory Icon:  Pat VanDyk donated this “King of Glory” cross.  It is presently in the main Church Office.












The roof after addition complete in 1995








A new metal roof was added in 2011; the roof-top cross was then moved to the ground and painted red to match the red roof.










KC Members helped erect the cross on the ground – April 2011












In June we bid farewell to Fr. Tom and welcomed our new pastor, Fr. Linus Ukomadu

Farewell party for Fr. Tom











2011 – 2014 Rev. Linus Okomadu
Welcome Party for Fr. Linus














<   Click here to read newspaper article





Rev. Linus Okomadu:  Fr. Linus was also an extern priest from Nigeria.  He was a scholarly man and wrote two books:  1)  21st Century Church Leaders:  The Will and the Way; and 2) The Power and the Glory:  To Forgive and be Forgiven, which can be found in our Parish Library.  Fr. Linus had been in our country for several years furthering his studies while working for the diocese.  He had completed his Doctorate in Psychology prior to coming to St. Michael’s.   He was a man of deep prayer and faith.



Oktoberfest:  The St. Michael’s Men’s Club began organizing this event in the late ’80s or early ’90s.   Eventually, it became an annual Knights of Columbus fundraiser.  Sausage, homemade sauerkraut, beer, and a community band attracted the entire community to this fun event.  With the membership in the KCs getting smaller and older, the last Oktoberfest was held in 2011.








Dedicated KC workers and their wives
Always hard at work – Gordon and Lila Hickert











Latin Mass Update:  In November of 2011, Fr. Demets left the diocese and the Fraternity decided not to send another of their priests to Cherokee Village.  Bishop Taylor found a diocesan priest who was willing to study the Tridentine Latin Mass, but it would take many months before he would be ready.  In the meantime, all the sacred vessels, cruets, vestments, altar linens, etc, which had been purchased with the funds collected at the Latin Mass, were brought to the Fraternity priest in Little Rock.  And the home in Cherokee Village which was purchased as a residence/rectory for the Fraternity priests was sold.



Christmas Party:  The organizers of the 2001 Christmas Party decided to do something different…a Gingerbread House Contest.  Many participated in this event.  (See photos of winning houses below.)  Surprisingly, it has not been a yearly addition to our Christmas Party, as it seemed to be popular.










Parish Audit for Fiscal Year July 2010 – June 2011:

Registered Households:  249

Est. number of Catholics:  393

Official October Mass Count:

English Masses:  234

Latin Mass:  No Latin Masses this year






Bronze Missal Stand:  In March of 2012, a Missal Stand was purchased by the parish, with the generosity of many parishioners, in memory of Lillian Newburn, who died one year prior.  Lillian was a well-loved parishioner who gave her life to the Church (PC President for 10+ yrs) and community.  We joked of her stature of less than 5 feet saying, “She was small but mighty.”   RIP dear Lillian.











Confirmation with Bishop Taylor, June 28, 2012:











Holy Family Cemetery:  Oaklawn Cemetery Committee (in Highland) gave St. Michael’s Parish a back section of their public cemetery exclusively for the burial of our Catholic parishioners.  When Bishop Taylor came for Confirmation, June 8, 2012, he stayed overnight and blessed the new  “Holy Family Cemetery” the following day.


















Latin Mass Update:   In May of 2012, Bishop Taylor held a meeting at St. Michael’s Church announcing the changes that would be taking place in regards to the Latin Mass here.  Fr. Michael Bass, from North Little Rock, had volunteered to learn the Latin Mass and would be ready to offer it beginning in July.  The Tridentine Latin Mass would be offered here at St. Michael’s at 11:30am, on the 1st and 3rd Sundays each month.   (The Nigerian Priest in Mountain Home volunteered to learn the Latin Mass as well.  He would offer it on the 2nd, 4th & 5th Sundays, which gave an option to those who desired to attend the Latin Mass every weekend.)  The Bishop requested that those who preferred the Latin Mass were to register in their territorial parishes and use offering envelopes of that parish; their children were required to be enrolled in the Religious Ed program of that parish in order to receive the Sacraments.  The collections at the Latin Mass would be retained by St. Michael’s (and St. Peter’s in Mountain Home) or given to another parish if envelopes used were from their territorial parish.   Each parish, St. Michael’s and St. Peter’s, was to supply for whatever special items were needed to offer the Latin Mass.



Parish Audit for Fiscal Year July 2011 – June 2012:

Registered Households:  234

Est. number of Catholics:  378

Official October Mass Count:

English Masses: 235

Latin Mass:  no records were kept






Repair and Restoration – Phase III:  In the Spring of 2013 we continued with Fr. Tom Mark’s dream of expanding the Sanctuary.  The altar area was enlarged and tiled, new shallower stairs were extended all the way across from one wall to the other; new wrought iron stair rails were installed (fabricated by Bernie Brandenburg); new altar chairs were purchased; the side altar was removed and a new Tabernacle (found in a supply of extra church items at the diocese) was installed in the center backdrop behind the altar; the backdrop was trimmed in oak to match the newer oak altar and podium, and the grasscloth backing was replaced with the same upholstery as the new chairs; a credence table was made of oak to match the other oak furnishings; new carpeting was installed in the entire upstairs; the chapel, vestibule, hallway, and offices were all painted.  Parishioners donated toward the 5 new altar chairs; the altar renovations were paid for by the generosity of Helen Shinavar’s Estate; Bingo paid for the new carpeting.   We are blessed to have so many generous parishioners!

Former side Altar for Tabernacle and former altar chairs
Former stone Altar and podium, grasscloth backdrop, wrought iron railings, and orange carpet











Tabernacle centered; back altar trimmed in oak; grasscloth backing replaced with fabric
Altar enlarged; new stairs with a lower rise; new tile and carpet complete














New iron railings fabricated by Bernie Brandenburg
New Oak Credence Table











New Altar Chairs













Master at her Craft:  The Church Office wall is adorned with quilts, such as this beauty, compliments of master quilter, Ariela Wege.











Christmas 2013:  With Renovations complete we were all set to celebrate Christmas.










New St. Michael’s Sign along the Highway:  The wood in the old St. Michael’s Sign was beginning to rot, so a new metal sign was purchased in the Spring of 2013, with an area for changeable lettering to announce the activities happening at St. Michael’s.

replacement in the 90’s









New sign with interchangeable letters – 2013










Parish Audit for Fiscal Year July 2012 – June 2013:

Registered Households:  220

Est. number of Catholics:  361

Official October Mass Count:

English Masses:  207

Latin Mass:  45





The death of Fr. Linus:  On May 20th, Fr. Linus did not show up for Mass; he was found collapsed on the floor in the Rectory.  Scans revealed he had suffered a severe stroke and recovery was not likely.  He was transported to a hospital in Springfield, MO, where further tests during the night revealed there was no brain activity.  He was declared deceased in the morning of the 21st.  A Funeral Mass and Luncheon was held at St. Michael’s Church on May 26th, followed by another Mass in Little Rock at St. Andrew’s Cathedral (see picture below).  His body was then transported to Nigeria for burial.

Funeral Mass for Fr. Linus at St. Andrew’s Cathedral with Bishop Taylor and other diocesan priests, May 2014.
















        Click here to read above newspaper article








Pastorless:  We were without a pastor for 3 weeks, but we thank Bishop Taylor and Msgr, Malone who spent much time with our grieving parish and guided the staff as they readied the parish and rectory for a new pastor.


Confirmation 2014:  Being without a pastor, Bishop Taylor still came as planned and celebrated Confirmation with us in early June.










In June, as we were still mourning the passing of Fr. Linus, we welcomed our new Administrator, Fr. Nazarus Maduba.

2014 – 2017 Rev. Nazarus Maduba
Fr. Naz was presented a key to the parish at his welcome party.












Rev. Nazarus Maduba:  Fr. Naz was another extern priest from Nigeria.   He was still fairly new to the US when Fr. Linus passed.  Fr. Linus was actually his sponsor and a personal mentor to him.  Fr. Naz was also with him when he passed.   He was quiet and reserved.  It must have been hard for him to walk in Fr. Linus’ shoes…living in his former home, wear his vestments, and ministering to his grieving parish, not having time to grieve himself.   When the diocesan priest who would come twice a month to offer the Latin Mass could no longer continue, Fr. Naz offered to learn the Latin Mass.  Fr. Naz was familiar with the Latin language and was able to study the Mass while on his annual visit to Nigeria at a parish where the Latin Tridentine Mass was offered routinely.  Three years later, Fr. Naz was transferred to Mountain Home where there was a need for an Associate Pastor who could also offer the Latin Mass.  For several years, he would travel twice a month to offer the Latin Mass at St. Michael’s, until it was discontinued in July of 2021.


75th Anniversary:  July 23, 2014, marked the 75th Anniversary of the first Mass offered in the new St. Michael’s Mission Church in Hardy.  On Saturday, August 16th, Bishop Taylor concelebrated a 75th Anniversary Mass here at St. Michael’s.   A potluck in the Parish Hall followed.











Cecilia Orosz (sitting), and daughter, Karen Burton – The Orosz family were founding members of the original church in Hardy.











Goodbye Dc. Jim and Helene:  In June of 2014, we also bid farewell to Dc. Jim and Helene Thompson.  They were humble, kind and loving servants, loved by all and are truly missed.  (As of this writing, they both have deceased, Jim in 2017, Helen in 2019.  Good and faithful servants, may you rest in Eternal Peace!)

Farewell Party
Helene and Dc. Jim in 2011












Parish Audit for Fiscal Year July 2013 – June 2014:

Registered Households:  215

Est. number of Catholics:  337

Official October Mass Count:

English Masses:  199

Latin Mass:  42






The death of Fr. Preske:  On November 9, 2015, Fr. Venantius Preske entered Eternal Life.  He was the pastor in the ’70s of St. Michael’s and St. Mary’s Parishes.  When he retired in ’95, he decided to live in a private home in Horseshoe Bend instead of joining the other retired diocesan priests at St. John’s Center in LR.  Fr. Preske loved nature and solitude and so chose this lifestyle instead.  He was like St. Francis…he had dogs, cats, bees, and whatever other creature wanted to inhabit his garage or nibble off the weeds in his yard.  He not only fed the birds from his feeders, but poured birdseed on the ground so the squirrels didn’t have to work so hard for it.  His “Holy Honey” was a very popular item every fall and could be found for sale at St. Michael’s and St. Mary’s Church Offices.  Fr. Preske filled-in for priests around the northern part of Arkansas for many years, including at St. Michael’s.  He even offered the Latin Mass, on occasion, when the Fraternity Priest was not able to be here or was sick.  In 2001, the Benedictine Missionary Priest who had pastoral care of St. Mary of the Mount in Horseshoe Bend, Fr. Fred Schneider, decided to retire.  St. Mary’s, once again, became a second parish for the pastor at St. Michael’s.  Fr. Kevin Atunzu was pastor at the time.  Seeing the people of St. Mary’s were used to a daily Mass, which would be impossible for Fr. Kevin to offer seeing there is daily Mass as well at St. Michael’s, he asked Fr. Preske if he would offer the weekday Masses at St. Mary’s.  Fr. Preske also offered First Saturday Masses, and the Vigil Mass each Saturday afternoon.  (Fr. Kevin offered the Masses there on Thursday and Sunday.)   Fr. Preske began more of a pastoral role at St. Mary’s.  With the pastor’s permission, he planned all their Liturgies with a group he started called the Liturgical Committee.  He planned and gave retreats, heard all their Confessions, buried their dead, counseled those who needed his guidance, was Chaplain of their Knights of Columbus Council, and offered all the Holy Day Masses including the Easter Triduum and Christmas Midnight Mass.  People came from far and wide to hear Fr. Preske’s homilies and go to Confession to him.  When he could no longer offer a public Mass, his armchair became his pulpit.  He conducted Bible Study sessions in his home, people came for Confession and Spiritual Direction, and he would always answer his phone, no matter what time day or night you called.  His absence has left a big hole in our community as he was the one everyone went to when they just needed someone to listen.  Well done good and faithful servant…R.I.P. Fr. Preske!  Fr. Preske’s deacon brother, Dc. Richard Preske, wrote a book on Fr. Venantius’ life titled:  The Meek and Gentle Servant; it is available in our Parish Library.




< Fr. Preske’s Memorial Card.  On the back is his favorite prayer, the motto he lived out his priestly life by.









Parish Audit for Fiscal Year July 2014 – June 2015:

Registered Households:  195

Est. number of Catholics:  310

Official October Mass Count:

English Masses:  203

Latin Mass:  41






Town Hall Meetings were reinstated:  The plan was to make this a yearly thing each January.  It was a time and place where parishioners could voice opinions and suggestions and they would be heard and answered by the Parish Council and pastor.  The meetings were ill-attended and after three years of attempts, they were discontinued. 


New Set of Sacred Vessels:  In March of ’16, with gratitude to the VanderZyl & Wege families, as well as the Altar Society, for their generosity, a new gold-plated Ciborium/Chalice set was purchased for celebrating Mass, as well as 4 matching chalices for the distribution of the Precious Blood.










Latin Mass Update:  In April of 2016, due to health reasons, Fr. Bass had to discontinue offering the Latin Mass here at St. Michael’s.  Fr. Nazarus, our then Administrator, knowing the Latin language, volunteered to learn the Tridentine Mass.   He began offering it in July on the 1st and 3rd Sundays at 2:30pm (giving him time to return from Sunday Mass in Horseshoe Bend).


Parish Picnic:  In October 2016, the Parish Council decided to reinstate the Annual Parish Picnic.  The food was plentiful and the games enjoyed by all.







The men having their turn at the Cake Walk.











Parish Audit for Fiscal Year July 2015 – June 2016:

Registered Households:  186

Est. number of Catholics:  309

Official October Mass Count:

English Masses:  211

Latin Mass:  39






New Set of Sacred Vessels:  In March of ’17, with gratitude to Joe Wilson for his generosity, a new a silver-plated Ciborium/Chalice set was purchased for celebrating Mass, as well as 4 matching chalices for the distribution of the Precious Blood.  These were donated in memory of his deceased parents, Joe and Marie Wilson.  Seeing we now had 2 new sets of sacred Vessels, with a new gold set being purchased last year, it was decided to use the silver set for weekday Masses and save the gold set for Solemnities, such as weekend Masses and Holy Days. 









In June we bid farewell to Fr. Naz and welcomed our new pastor, Fr. Amal Raju Punganoor Lourduswamy, AKA “Fr. Amal”.

Farewell Brunch for Fr. Naz














2017 – Present   Rev. Amal Raju Punganoor Lourduswamy













Rev. Amal Raju Punganoor:   Fr. Amal, as he liked to be called, was an extern priest on loan from the Diocese of Nellore, India.   



Latin Mass Update:  In June of 2017, Fr. Nazarus was re-assigned to Mtn. Home.  His assignment from the Bishop included not only offering the Latin Mass in Mtn. Home, but also traveling to St. Michael’s twice a month to offer the Latin Mass here.    The schedule remained the same, 1st and 3rd Sundays at 2:30pm.  (In 2019 the time was changed to 12noon.)



Statue of Mary:  Fr Amal asked for the Cross on the front lawn to be painted a cream color (instead of red).  He also asked the Knights of Columbus if they could find a statue of Mary to put at the base.  Dean Beardslee had a statue, which he donated to the church; Bernie Brandenburg made a base for it to rest on.  The Knights of Columbus then painted it.  What a beautiful addition to the front of the church!













Holy Honey:  In the Spring of 2016, we noticed some bee activity at the peek of the church (on the side closest to the upper parking lot).  The bees would find their way into the Sanctuary but not find their way back out.  Being trapped, the bees would swarm around the upper windows until they died and then fall to the floor, so we were constantly sweeping up dead bees.  By summer we had honey dripping down the inside of the brick walls.  Seeing it was unlawful to spray the bees killing them, and not knowing what we could do, we just ignored this through the fall and winter in hopes they wouldn’t return the following year…but they did.  In October of 2017, with the aid of parishioner and beekeeper, Michael Orosz, a section of metal roofing was removed allowing Mike to locate the hive and smoke them to calm them.  (The bees had built a hive in between the old roof and the new metal roof.)  Using the suction of a vacuum and a long flexible hose, he sucked the bees out of the hive in the roof into a mobile hive on the ground (see photos below).  After he removed all the bees he could, Mike then proceeded to remove as much of the hive as he could reach.   When all was put back together, the seams and cracks were sealed with silicone and prayer in hopes that any bees who had left the hive while he was working would not be able to get back in when they returned.  To date, Dec. 2018, we have not seen any sign of them.  Good job, Mike!  (As of this writing, 2019, the bees have not returned!)






















Parish Audit for Fiscal Year July 2016 – June 2017:

Registered Households:  182

Est. number of Catholics:  302

Official October Mass Count:

English Masses:  203

Latin Mass:  26






Confirmation with Bishop Taylor:  In June of 2018, Bishop Taylor came to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on 9 students, and also blessed our new sanctuary statues. The Divine Mercy statue was donated by the Knights of Columbus; Our Lady of Grace statue was donated by the Altar Society and BINGO.  An anonymous donor paid for the shelving to be handmade by a craftsman in Jonesboro with wood donated by the Sandefer Family. 


Bishop Taylor blessing the new statues.























New Oil Cabinet:  In November, Fr. Amal had a smaller Ambry made for the Holy Oils.  It is fastened on the front right wall in the church.  The larger oak cabinet donated by the Colles Family was moved to the Church Hall on the wall by the Gift Shop.










Parish Audit for Fiscal Year July 2017 – June 2018:

Registered Households:  176

Est. number of Catholics:  298

Official October Mass Count:

English Masses:  192

Latin Mass:  23






Yearly Town Hall Meetings Cancelled:  Due to lack of attendance, the yearly January Town Hall was canceled.  Later in the year, a Suggestion Box was placed in the vestibule.  Parishioners were encouraged to submit their suggestions, all reasonable ones would be discussed at the Parish Council Meetings and reported back to the parishioner who submitted it, provided they leave their name.



Statues in the Adoration Chapel moved/added:  The Sacred Heart Statue, which sat for many years in the Church Office, was moved into the Adoration Chapel.  It was placed on the pedestal where St. Philomena was; a new pedestal was made for St. Philomena and she was placed in another spot on the Chapel wall. 

Sacred Heart Statue moved to the Adoration Chapel
A new place for St. Philomena













Parish Audit for Fiscal Year July 2018 – June 2019:

Registered Households:  163

Est. number of Catholics:  264

Official October Mass Count:

English Masses:  168

Latin Mass:  26