Newspaper Archive of
Arkansas Catholic
Little Rock, Arkansas
September 14, 1979     Arkansas Catholic
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September 14, 1979

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PAGE 2B THE GUARDIAN, SEPTEMBER 14, 1979 Morrilton Parish (00entenni ecalls " tory Arkansas had been one of the United States for only 43 years and the Diocese of Little Rock was only 36 years old when the seeds of Sacred Heart parish in Morrilton were planted 100 years ago. For a few years before that, a Father Brem, a diocesan priest, had ranged along the right-of-way of the Little Rock-Fort Smith and Iron Mountain Railroad, ministering to Catholic immigrants in the Arkansas River Valley, but his health broke and he returned to his native Switzerland. On January 14, 1879, Father Charles Steurer, C.S.Sp., and Holy Ghost Brothers Gene and Leo arrived at the low plateau north of Morrilton which later would be known as Monastery Ridge. As part of the railroad grant, there were 520 acres there on which a monastery farm would be founded. It has been chosen earlier by The Very Rev. Joseph Strub, superior of the Congregation of Holy Ghost Fathers in the U.S. The site was named "Marienstadt" after the congregation's home in Germany from which the priests and brothers had been expelled during the Kulturkampf. Father Steurer celebrated the first Holy Mass on an improvised altar on the following day, and then he and the two brothers laid out a cemetery plot. By the end of March, 1879, three buildings had been erected - a priest's residence, a residence for the brothers and a chapel dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a Marian designation that is a subtitle of the Holy Ghost Fathers. The chapel could accommodate 200 wor- shippers. Thus began the development of Catholicism in and around Morrilton. At the invitation of Father Strub, five Sisters of St. Joseph from Cluny, France, migrated to Morrilton and settled on five acres of prime land donated by a Mr. Brown, a non-Catholic friend of Father Strub, about whom nothing else is known today. The Sisters lost no time erecting an imposing three- story building of imported brick for use as a convent, school and chapel. It cost $12,000, and $5,000 of this sum was amortized by Father Strub with funds realized from a lottery. The building was dedicated to St. Joseph on March 31, 1800, by BishopEdward Fitzgerald of Little Rock, with many prominent political, civic and church leaders present. Among them were Arkansas' governor and lieutenant governor and the vicar general of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. St. Joseph's chapel in the new building was" where MORRILTON PACKING CO., Inc. "Home of Petit Jean Meat Products" Morrilton, Arkansas Northwestern Sporting Goods Inc. RETAIL-WHOLESALE RIVERLAND SHOPPING CENTER, HWY. 9N--P.O. Box 327 MORRILTON, ARKANSAS 72110 BUSINESS PHONE 354-0997 -- HOME PHONE 354-1865 PIGGLY WIGGLY Morrilton, Arkansas Congratulations and Best Wishes I CATHOLIC CHURCH J from S 8, A LIQUOR STORE !-40, Highway 95 N Morrilton, Ark. Morrilton Catholics worshipped until 1892. (The building was a landmark until 1956 when it was destroyed by fire.) The Holy Ghost Fathers, meantime, were promoting interest in the Morrilton area from their houses in Europe and German immigration to the promising river valley town continued. In early 1881, 75 Catholics of the area received the Sacrament of Confirmation from Bishop Fitzgerald and the Catholic population numbered 100 families. In August, 1881, 80 day students and several boarders were enrolled in the Sisters' academy. That winter was severe and the death rate was described as appalling. Many immigrants returned to Europe and this trying situation continued until 1883. Adding to the area's problems was disgruntlement among German immigrants over the fact that, under conditions laid down for development of the area, the French had first preference for lands around Morrilton. On Jan. 1, 1882, the mission center was transferred to Morrilton and adjoining property was acquired to accommodate a future parish church. The following January, the Sisters of St. Joseph, who had aspired to develop an institution of higher learning, became discouraged by unrelenting opposition and closed their school. A modest structure was then built in the northeast corner of their property and became of St. Anne's, the first Catholic school for black children in the diocese. Six students enrolled the first year. Initial plans for new construction were undertaken Feb. 27, 1887, when a pledge list was put in circulation. A building committee was established in 1889. It consisted of Adam Comes, Joseph Riedmueller, John Snyder, John Heel and F. Rolf, and in January, 1890, under Father Matthew Heizman, C.S.Sp., Monastery Ridge farmers began construction of Immaculate Heart church. The 79-by-27-foot Gothic structure cost $2,000 and was free of debt was dedicated April 2, 1891. The Kordsmeier family donated the church bell. About this time, a public school was established on Monastery Ridge by a special school district that had been created earlier. The Sisters of St. Joseph from Morrilton initially assumed responsibility for teaching there, but later relinquished these duties to laywomen. The school functioned until the early 1930's and four of its many students ultimately received H61y Orders -- I New Work - Remodeling - Repair L Morrilton Plumbing0000 & HeatinE Co. HIGHWAY 64 EAST. 354-2052. MORRILTON HERB KOROSMF',IER e PRESIDF:N'r ORMOND Insurance & Real Estate A.V. Ormond Charles Ormond Bill Gndeman Rita Allison Theresa Paladino Michelle Kordsmeier POINDEXTER'S PRINTING & OFFICE SUPPLIES, INC. MORRILTON, ARKANSAS 72110 DEPEND ON US FOR PRINTING & OFFICE SUPPLIES TELEPHONE 3542603 118 N. DIVISION Father M. Buchheit, Father J. J. Laux Pinter and Father Pins Stutzer, O.M., Cap. Concomitant with the new church Monastery Ridge, the foundation of the new Heart Church in Morrilton was laid in 1891. cornerstone was laid in April, 1892, and the Monastery Ridge and the town But nature then took a hand. May 8, 1892, was to be First Communion Monastery Ridge and all that area's Catholics from nearby Morrilton gathered at maculate Heart of Mary Church for Matthew Heizman was there to officiate whe P.M., a sudden violent "cyclone struck the terly destroying the new church and all the buildings. As if by a miracle, no injuries were ded." Father Francis Schwab wrote later: "Now parish, all united their means and efforts" to with construction of Sacred Heart Church in i Three carved-wood altars were salvaged wreckage and later were installed in the new church. The Monastery Ridge property had sured for $1,000 and this was added to the building funds. William Morlock wa: new church and for a $6,000 brick rectory for Ghost Fathers." Bishop Fitzgerald dedicated Sacred Heart July 4, 1893. Two new bells in the belfry Ave and Ave Joseph -- and the Kordsmeier rang for the occasion. Five years later, Church was free of debt. In 1898, the Sisters of St. Joseph, unable to their desire to provide a complete program, closed St. Anne's School, sold the Sacred Heart parish and left. Father Charles C.S.Sp., promptly obtained a commitment Poor School Sisters of Notre Dame (as called) from St. Louis to take over responsibilities and on Sept. 12, 1899, Bonaventure, S.S.N.D., arrived with two sisters and a novice to serve as cook. Records period indicate there were 23 "large" pupils "small" ones in their first enrollment. There class or grade divisions in those days. The enrollment grew in the next few weeks as harvest ended. SEE Hi STORY ON PGo 3B Morrilton Security "'The Friendly Bank" Morrilton, Ark. BEST WISHES JCPenney MORRILTON, ARK. TO SACRED HEART CATHOLIC CHI ., HORRILTOH, ARKANSAS ,-,111111111111111111111111111111111111111iil E _- --- Compliments of m m _= i =l= REHM BUILDERS SUPPLY Morrilton, Arkansas ,1"111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 Wofford's Cafeteria 200 North Moose Morrilton, Arkansas Congratulates L SACRED HEART CATHOLIC CHURCH