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Arkansas Catholic
Litlte Rock, Arkansas
February 14, 1998     Arkansas Catholic
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February 14, 1998

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............... / . F ,.,RTH February 14, 1998 Page7 I I il'w..s q :ro: cte: anniversary in CORRESPONDENT .. J 7 ---Dr. Victor StepEa Jr. recently celebrated 20 years rvice to Blessed Sacrament Church making him the longest serv- deacon ordained for the Diocese of Rock. I first became a deacon, the didn't know what to do with me," said. )ted by the "old-timers of the as a deacon is one of the most parts of his job, Stepka said. up in this parish and now I'm by the old-timers," Stepka said. said parishioners have grown the past 20 years to learn what a is and isn't. *It was difficult to be a local boy min- where I had grown up," he said. to mention being the first of a new trying to discover what that meant diocese and the parish." anniversary celebration and sponsored by the Knight of Co- Dr. Victor Stepka Jr. lumbus Council 1702 and the Ladies Society, was held at the parish Jan. 17. Stepka, 63, has been a deacon for 20 years, but he began working part-time at the church about two years ago. Stepka's ing, the Diocese of Little Rock did not official title is adult ministries coordina- have a program so he had to travel to tor. Technically his job calls for 25 hours Memphis twice a week plus several week- a week, but he usually works between 30 ends a month for three years. Stepka said and 40 hours, he attended the diaconate program classes "The push for nighttime meetings is with 24 people in his class. tremendous and many people that I min- Deacons Tom Miller of Monticello and ister to cannot meet during the day," Bill Cranford of Little Rock were also in Stepka said. Stepka's class but were ordained for the Stepka works on the adult education Diocese of Memphis. Miller and Cranford program, marriage preparation, OCIA, later moved to Arkansas. Liturgy Commission and the baptism pro- Stepka, a lifelong member of Blessed gram for parents. He also ministers pri- Sacrament Parish, studied for the diacoxmte vately to individuals and assists Father under Bishop Carroll Dozier of the Din- Jack Harris, pastor of Blessed Sacrament cese of Memphis. He was ordained at Parish. Blessed Sacrament Church on Jan. 20, "Its been very interesting working with 1978, by Bishop AndrewJ. McDonald. different pastors," Stepka said. He said each Stepka and his wife Jane have three one has a different plan for the parish and children and four grandchildren. He he enjoys working together with each one. graduated from Jonesboro High School Working for the church is a careerand attended the University of Notre change for Stepka. He began his job at Dame and Arkansas State College and the church after he retired from dentistry, graduated from St. Louis University He said he did not retire to take the job School of Dentistry in 1959. at Blessed Sacrament but because he "got "Jane and I are so appreciative of all old enough and wanted to." the people who have been so wonderful At the time Stepka received his train- to us," Stepka said. Warren's Catholic Church recognized for its historic value By Dr. Linda Webster ~,~kL 1"O ARKANSAS CATHOLIC !: ,~. L ~ARRFaN -- It's official! St. Luke Church in Warren been named to the National Register of Historic Places. Aad just in time for a 90th-anniversary celebration. ~ . couldn t be more pleased, said Glenmary Fa- ' er Dan Dorsey, pastor of St. Luke Parish. ' Ne knew • e building was a unique architectural structure and ~t, exciting to have that uniqueness recognized. h The church building was constructed in 1907 and SOme unusual features. The exterior of the build- has a variety of textures, from concrete blocks molded to mimic both cut and rusticated stone to Gothic stained glass windows. From its bell tower to the corner- from its steeply-pitched roof to the oculus win- 0W at the south entrance, St. Luke is a stunning pack- of ecclesiastical architecture on a miniature scale. A~ld the oldest church in Bradley County. Built in 1907 as St. Mary Episcopal Church by the cutives of the Southern Lumber Company who came t0.Warren from Minnesota, the congregation never grew the church was largely abandoned by the 1930s. A • r ce was constructed around the unused property, and remained emntv until 1948 when Father Joseph derlin, with th'e'permission of the Diocese of Little d~zlg bought the church structure and the house next for $600. The only items not included in the sale e the original stained glass windows. GiVen that the structure had been abandoned for a major renovation was called for. The entire tom up and filled in with a combination of and gravel to raise the floor level approximately 6 New asphalt tile flooring was laid down in the and hardwood flooring covered the sanctuary. art glass windows were purchased from Little and the old cross atop the bell tower was replaced. aew entrance porch was added, capped by a molded that had been fashioned by a native of Warren earlier for the previous church. building itself is a simple, L-shaped design. In- arch leaded glass windows line both sides walls composing the length of the church. Dra- trusses loft above the entire length and the soar- cream-painted beaded-board. pews are original to the structure, dark-stained with Gothic arch panel at each side. Over the years, has been replaced and the painting has refreshed, but the structure remains largely un- from the 1948 renovation. The original stained glass windows, with an estimated latch, the main employer in Bradley County, the popu- value of $1,000, were moved to St. James Church in lation of the English-speaking congregation has Magnolia. The Church Art Glass Company in Little dwindled. However, a growing portion of the congre- Rock contracted to provide the "new" windows for St. gation is Hispanic and weekly Masses in English and Luke' at a total cost of $900. The windows were de- Spanish are offered for the parish which now numbers scribed as "Gothic stained glass with hoppers." The nearly 200, the largest population of Catholics ever lower portion of each window tilts into the church to served by St. Luke. allow for ventilation• St. Luke is an architectural gem especially as the When Father Enderlin contracted to buy the church church is one of only a remaining few molded concrete structure in 1948, most of the Catholic population in block structures in southeast Arkansas. Warren was of Croatian ancestry. "The church building is 90 years old this year," said In addition to serving the Catholic population of Father Dorsey, "and we're pleased to be able to share its Bradley County, St. Luke served Ashley County until history with Bradley County. And we will celebrate 50 1965 and Drew County until 1978. Over the past 15 years of Catholic worship at St. Luke's in 1998 a wonder- years, the church membership of St. Luke has under- ful time for a celebration marked by having the church gone a significant change. With the downsizing of Pot- placed on the National Register of Historic Places." ! St. Luke Church in Warren, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in December 1997, is the oldest church in Bradley County.