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.