The History of St. Bartholomew Catholic Church 1907-----2019
In February, 1907, BISHOP JOHN B. MORRIS asked REVERAND FENTAN KRAMER, O.S.B., pastor of St. Edward Catholic Church in Little Rock, to labor also in behalf of the city’s Negro people. Bishop Morris assigned property owned by the diocese at the corner of Eighth and Gaines Street for a church to be built in which would be the center of the Catholic work among the Colored. On this property were two dilapidated wooden buildings. One of these buildings had been used as a doctor’s office and as a store many years before that. FATHER KRAEMER employed a carpenter to convert one of the buildings into a small chapel. The bishop met the expenses of the work that proceeded through 1908. While the chapel was being made ready, FATHER KRAEMER met many colored people, interesting them in the undertaking with a view towards winning converts among them. Valuable help was given the priest by Mr. Pleasant Smith, who was the only colored Catholic man that FATHER KRAEMER knew. He had often seen Mr. Smith at St. Andrew Cathedral and was aware of his excellent reputation. Mr. Smith was able to introduce the priest to many of Little Rock’s colored people. By January 10, 1909, the remodeling had been completed and on that day the chapel was blessed by FATHER KRAEMER and dedicated by BISHOP MORRIS. That same day, Holy Mass was offered in the chapel for the first time at 10:30 a.m. A large number of colored people were present. The bishop named the chapel and the congregation in honor of St. Bartholomew because this Saint was his patron, and because, as he said, “St. Bartholomew was martyred by having his skin flayed while he was still alive, so it doesn’t matter any about the skin or the color thereof.” FATHER KRAEMER personally began to serve the new chapel. Each Sunday, after the early Mass at St. Edward, he hastened the 14 blocks over to St. Bartholomew to say a second Mass, “saying Mass and having a sermon for many colored people”, as he later wrote. He purposely invited to the chapel as many colored people as he could contact. On every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday evening at 7:30 p.m., he conducted a catechetical instruction with which he ... READ MORE
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