Monday, August 19, 2013

Despite Town Hard Times - Small Rural Arkansas Catholic Church Booming Through Hard Work

My College roommate and best friend's  dad was with the U.S. Forest Service. While he was  in college his dad and family moved to Booneville Arkansas . As with many places in rural  Northwest Arkansas it had some unique interesting qualities to the say the least.

So I had several occasions to attend Mass at the Church mentioned ehrn  many moons ago I went with him on weekend trips to see his family.

I talked about this Church late last year because of an event of great sadness. See Seminarian killed; dreamed of being 'Father Daniel'

Happily I can talk about this Church and it's lesson it might have for us all on a more positive note . See Despite town’s setbacks, Booneville church is growing.

What ? “Fifty percent of our parish members are under 18,”, packed Vacation Bible School classes , and healthy RCIA classes to boot ! What is happening there.

I thought  there might be a of course some  Hispanic immigration factor playing  out to some degree but from the article that does not seem to the major driving factor. In fact as the article points out it's hard economic times for all and it does seem there is a lot of migration into the area period.

“Glenmaries have the charism of cultural sensitivity, and when we first got into town after the fire, we formed a ministerial alliance and organized a job fair with 34 employers within six or seven days,” he said. “Assumption donated $19,000 for a Cargill fund, assisted by Glenmary and the Knights of Columbus. The alliance was incorporated as a 501c3 and has a full-time staff person working five days a week.

 It helped people through a food bank, utility help, outplacement and resumé services and a thrift shop.” Although Catholics are less than 10 percent of Booneville’s population, the entire community attended fundraisers to help finance the church building project. Parishioners have raised $400,000 toward the project since 2009.

 Assumption’s focus on youth also helped the parish grow. “Fifty percent of our parish members are under 18,” longtime parishioner John O’Bar said. “We had 75 students and staff at vacation Bible school last week.” The parish youth group was honored twice as the best youth group in the diocese in the small-church category.

 “We embraced stewardship and sweat equity,” Father Tranel said. “We didn’t hire anyone to do things we could do ourselves. Everyone took turns mowing the lawn. We had calluses and calluses. Being in church is a privilege, not a convenience.” Father Gudipalli, who arrived at the parish in 2012, said that RCIA, youth and family enrollment is continuing to grow each year. -

Good article read it all /

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