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

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Bishop McDonaM meets Pope Paul I11 shortly after being appointed bishop of Little Rock. Another founding for the dio- cese was the foundation of the Little Portion Community in Eureka Springs by world-renowned guitarist and singer John Michael Talbot. Successful in a country- rock-folk group, he became a Christian and achieved even more fame as a guitarist, singer and songwriter in the Christian con- temporary music scene. By 1978, he converted to Catholicism and moved to Eureka Springs four years later to set up a small Franciscan style communi- ty. Recognized by the diocese as a lay-run public association known as the Little Portion, it 1/as thrived as a community dedicated to rad- ically living a life of simplicity and poverty. Bishop McDonald's episcopacy has also been marked by deep con- cem for the poor and the power- less, especially newly arrived immi- grants. In doing this he drew upon a rich tradition of American Catholicism, as most Catholics came to the country as poor immi- grants. He has expanded the earlier efforts on behalf of the poor with his support for the Christopher Homes and the shelter for the homeless in downtown Little Rock. Arkansas' Catholic bishop has not just helped the poor with pro- grams, but in personal ministry as well. On many a Thanksgiving Day, the bishop has served traditional dinners to the homeless in down- town Little Rock. He has taken con- troversial stands on behalf of the repeal of Arkansas' right-to-work law, and has consistently opposed the use of the death penalty. His time as bishop has als0 meant a consistent outstretched hand to the outcasts. Soon after Bishop McDonald became bislv op, most of southeast Asia fell to communism and many th0tl" sands of Vietnamese, cambOd" ians, and Laotians came to Arkansas and received help froO the Catholic Church betwee 1975 to 1980. They would be fol" lowed by many Cuban refugees in 1980. During the 1980s the diocese also received refugees from Central America as that; region would be racked by vi0" lence and civil war. There has been a consisteOt growth of the Hispanic Catholic population and this had beefl recognized since 1974 whe Bishop McDonald started a row istry to the Mexican something already begun by predecessor. Arleansas