Morris Hall Chapel

About 10 years ago, I attended my first mass at Morris Hall Chapel on the grounds of St. John Catholic Center in Little Rock. It was during my first Diocese of Little Rock retreat and I ended up visiting the center multiple times over the next year as a staff member for the following retreat.

Last Friday, a candidacy mass for my cousin Stephen reintroduced me to the chapel. We arrived really early (my dad was afraid of traffic despite my repeated assurances that we would be fine) so we had plenty of time to learn about the chapel’s history.

It’s actually pretty neat. Architect Thomas Harding Sr., whose father designed The Cathedral of St. Andrew in the 1880s, designed the Little Rock chapel. Following a 1951 dedication, it was originally used to serve seminarians attending St. John Home Mission Seminary. The seminary closed in 1967 and the St. John Catholic Center is now the site of the Diocese of Little Rock’s administrative offices.

The chapel, renovated in 1989, is gorgeous. It has statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph (see above picture) that a German artist near Interlaken, Switzerland, carved out of lindenwood while Italian artist Lenatori made the altar in 1910 in Rome. Bishop John B. Morris purchased the altar in 1915 and it was originally used in the Little Rock College chapel before being moved to Morris Hall in 1952.

There are also 12 stained glass windows depicting saints whose lives are associated with the church’s priesthood or missionary work. The most meaningful one to me was the one portraying St. Theresa, the Little Flower.

St. Theresa (1873-1897) became a Carmelite nun at age 15 and is the patroness of missions. She is known for her “little way” of quiet acts of love, humble suffering and simple trust in God alone.

She is definitely some one worth being like.



My cousin, the seminarian, is Rome-bound

I have an amazing, extraordinary family. One example of this is my cousin Stephen. Stephen and I were in the same grade during our school years and, after high school, he went on to join the U.S. Air Force. Pictured above, Stephen and I pose for a picture during my March 2007 visit when he was stationed at Ramstein Air Force Base in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Stephen has since become a seminarian with the Diocese of Little Rock, the Catholic Church of Arkansas. It’s a step that is not really surprising for those who know him. In May, Stephen graduated from Saint Joseph Abbey and Seminary School in Saint Benedict, La.

Today, Stephen began the next step in his journey to priesthood. He is headed to Rome, Italy, to study at North American University. The past week has been busy as our diocese and our family prepared for his departure.

We attended his candidacy in Little Rock last Friday where he took an oath to become a priest. Two days later, a sending forth mass was held in our hometown parish where our pastor gave Stephen a special blessing. It’s kind of exciting to think that Stephen, the little boy I grew up with and had wheelchair races with, will be an ordained pastor in only four more years.