Newspaper Archive of
Arkansas Catholic
Little Rock, Arkansas
October 24, 1998     Arkansas Catholic
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October 24, 1998

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Vicar general that he was appoint- ed to be coadjutor bishop of Little Rock. The new coadjutor bishop aSSUmed his duties, remaining in ClOse contact with the infirm Bishop, Fitzgerald, and upon the bishop s death, taking full responsibility for the diocese in 1907. Clergy personnel problems necessitated Bishop Morris' imme- attention. He suspended a l ather James Brady, pastor of I naculate Conception in Fort S th, after repeated appeals and araings to straighten out finan- chl disarray in the parish. Though he left the priesthood, Father Brady was reconciled to the Urch before his death years later. Bishop Morris had between 20,000 and 30,000 Catholics in the diocese in 190Z Compared to this, the Baptists had 187,130 members the Methodists had 134,096 lerabers. The number of actual Church-goers in Arkansas was below the national average and the lowest in the South. Poor ral roads was one factor in low Stlaclay attendance. October 24, 1998 It fell to Bishop Morris to settle the will of Bishop Fitzgerald, who died a wealthy man. He left his wealth to his successor and the needs of the diocese. A family member contested the will. Bishop Morris, on the advice of attorneys, settled the dispute out of court to avoid prolonged legal disputes and possible scandal. Bishop Morris prudently used the financial resources at his disposal to expand Catholic institutions and services. In 1909 he opened St. Joseph Orphanage in North Little Rock. The orphanage was staffed by the Benedictine Sisters of Fort Smith. The bishop also created Arkansas' second Catholic college and a seminary in Little Rock. In 1919 students from other dioceses were accepted in the seminary, which was renamed St. John Home Mission Seminary. The college, meantime, was granting bachelor of arts and sciences degrees by 1924. A young priest, Albert L. Fletcher, was president of this Catholic institution of higher Bishop Morris founded Little Rock College which later became St. John Home Mission Seminary. The site is located within the old Pulaski Heights subdivision in Little Rock and now plays host to diocesan offices under the name of St. John Catholic Center. learning, which was also attended by many non-Catholics. A wave of anti-Catholic sentiment Militant anti-Catholic feelings in the state found expression in groups and publications that took issue with Catholic teaching and maligned its institutions. In 1914, Arkansas houses of the General Assembly passed a bill that targeted Catholic institu- tions and allowed inspection by a sheriff, police or constable at any time with the approval of 12 13