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Bishop Francis Malone: Rev. Francis I. Malone was pastor here at St. Michael’s for only one year, June of 1985-86. He obtained his law degree in 1989, was elevated to Monsignor, and served as Chancellor for Ecclesial Affairs for the Diocese of Little Rock. In December last year, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, elected him to serve as the next Bishop of the Diocese of Shreveport, Louisianna. His ordination was on January 28th.
< Bishop Malone was ordained by Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, seen here in the photo placing the bishop’s miter on him; Bishop Taylor of Little Rock and Bishop Duca of Baton Rouge were co-consecrators.
< Newly ordained Bishop Malone blessing the congregation for the first time as Bishop. The crosier he is carrying is the late Bishop Andrew McDonald’s (of Little Rock).
Fr. Chandra – temporary Sacramental Minister: Our pastor, Fr. Amal, had some issues renewing his Visa and in early January was notified he needed to go back to India to resolve this. In his absence, the diocese sent Fr. Chandra to minister to our Sacramental needs. It was a delight to have him with us for 6 short weeks. Fr. Amal returned to us in time for Ash Wednesday Mass, February 26th.
Coronavirus Pandemic and the cancelation of Holy Mass: In early January, the coronavirus, which began in China, spread from Italy and Europe and into the U.S. In early March, even before the first patient in AR was confirmed positive, Bishop Taylor announced a few temporary modifications at Mass, which included: no shaking of hands at the Sign of Peace, no holding hands during the Our Father, and no Communion on the tongue. As the CDC (Center for Disease Control) restricted gatherings no larger than 250, then 50, then 10, Bishop Taylor made the decision, effective March 22: all public Masses will be suspended; all meetings and gatherings would be canceled or postponed, which for our parish included CCD, RCIA, Bingo, St. Vincent de Paul and KCs, etc; he also encouraged parishes to remain open for prayer. In our parish, Eucharistic Adoration continued Mon-Fri with the Blessed Sacrament upon the main altar (to allow people room to distance themselves from one another). The Church was also open on Sunday mornings for prayer.
Phase I of Reopening: The governor, with the advice of the CDC, allowed the state to begin “opening up” effective May 16th. This also meant that the public celebration of Mass was allowed to resume, but with many restrictions. Masks had to be worn; everyone must sanitize their hands upon entry to the building; a safe distance of 6′ from one another had to be maintained; hymnals, missalettes, and other material touched in common had to be removed; one cantor was allowed to sing with their mask off; a total of 25% of maximum capacity were allowed to attend each service, which meant 75 persons; etc. Fr. Amal had to offer Mass without servers and the distribution of Holy Communion was done single file, one pew at a time. No holding or shaking of hands during Mass was allowed, and the distribution of the Precious Blood was still prohibited. All indoor activities and meetings are still prohibited.
Phase II: On June 15th, the governor allowed the state to enter Phase II of reopening. All that changed for the churches was that they were now allowed 66% of max capacity at each service. With the number of COVID cases rising around the country, and in Arkansas, we will be at this phase for some time. To be continued…
June 20 & 21, 2020: Bishop Taylor joined us for Confirmation at our Saturday Vigil Mass, and First Holy Communion the following Sunday morning.
Our sign by the highway is damaged: On Thursday, August 6th, a truck, driven by a motorist having health issues, hit our sign along the main highway severely damaging it. Fortunately, the driver was ok and had good insurance. Bids are being accepted for a replacement; we are hoping for a digital one.
Covid Update: On October 1, 2020, Bishop Taylor suspends the Dispensation from people’s Sunday obligation to attend Mass; although, if someone was high risk, elderly, or very fearful, they could in good conscience remain at home and participate through a live streaming of the Mass, as there are many options now since the pandemic. Masks were still mandatory for those who attended Mass, as well as distancing.
Parish Audit for Fiscal Year July 2019 – June 2020:
Registered Households: 146
Est. number of Catholics: 243
Official October Mass Count:
English Masses: 116
Latin Mass: 20
March 25, 2021: With the virus cases lowering, the Governor of Arkansas removed the mask mandate; however, Bishop Taylor still required them to be worn at Mass. Our Bishop did allow us to remove the tape we had used to block every other pew, and the Holy Water fonts to be filled following the Easter Vigil Mass.
May 16, 2021: With the continued decline in the number of virus cases, Bishop Taylor removed all restrictions on masks and distancing. The Parish Hall may now be used again for meetings and events. We also reinstated the ministry of Altar Servers and Sacristans to assist Father at Mass. The Bishop, however, discouraged the distribution of the Precious Blood at Mass; this is the only restriction that remains in effect.
June 2021: With our Bishop lifting all restrictions, we welcomed our different parish ministries to resume their meetings in the Parish Hall. Coffee and Donuts after the 9am Sunday Mass were also resumed.
July 11, 2021: Bingo begins again! With the lifting of all restrictions, Isabelle and Dana Wiest, along with their dedicated volunteers, began Bingo in our Parish Hall once again. Sunday, July 11th was chosen for the kick-off date. Then Bingo resumed their former schedule, every Thursday at 6pm and 1st Sundays at 1:30pm. With collections down due to the pandemic over the past year, we are grateful for the work of Izzy, Dana, and their many volunteers to get this going again!
July 16, 2021 – Latin Mass Update: Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter immediately revoking permissions regarding the celebration of the Latin Tridentine Mass. This order affected our parish directly, as the Latin Mass was still being celebrated every 1st and 3rd Sunday by Fr. Nazarus Maduba, who traveled here from Mountain Home. The last Latin Tridentine Mass was celebrated at our parish on July 18, 2021. Seeing bishops are allowed to designate a place where the Latin Tridentine Mass can be celebrated, Bishop Taylor chose the two personal parishes in Cabot and Springdale, which are served by the priests of the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP). Click HERE to read Bishop Taylor’s letter.
BINGO celebrates 25 years at St. Michael’s Parish: On September 5, 2021, A special BINGO celebration was held in thanksgiving for 25 years of BINGO at St. Michael’s Parish. Isabelle Wiest, along with her husband, Scotty, and daughter, Dana, and many other dedicated volunteers, began BINGO in 1996 as a means to pay off the mortgage on our 1994 Church Addition. In 3 short years, they were able to finish paying off the debt!
Goodbye Rebecca Huscher: On October 22, 2021, with heavy hearts, we said goodbye to Rebecca Huscher. Becky grew up in St. Michael’s Parish and had been our Financial Secretary for more than 28 years. She always wanted to be a nurse, and in 2020 that dream became a reality as she graduated from nursing school, becoming an RN. Becky accepted a job at a hospital in Rogers to be closer to her girls. We will miss her and wish her all the best in her new life!
Parish Audit for Fiscal Year July 2020 – June 2021:
Registered Households: 139
Est. number of Catholics: 261
Official October Mass Count:
English Masses: 141
Latin Masses: 17 (avg attendance through July, not included in Oct. report)