St. Albert Catholic Church
There was no Catholic Church in Cleburne county. The few Catholics who lived in the area attended Mass at St. James Church in Searcy.
With the creation of Greers Ferry Lake and the influx of people into the area, there was a need to provide a place of worship for the resident Catholics, and an opportunity for the vacationers coming to the lake on the weekends to attend Mass. The pastor at Searcy approached Bishop Albert fletcher, Bishop of the Diocese of Little Rock, regarding the possibility of offering Mass on Sundays during the Summer months. Bishop Fletcher approved the arrangement, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered on the first Sunday of June, 1965, and on every Sunday until Labor Day. This schedule continued through 1966. the Masses were held at the Heber Springs City Hall.
In June, 1967, the Presbyterian pastor invited the Catholics to conduct their worlship in the Presbyterian Church, and in September, 1967, priests were assigned to celebrate Mass on Sundays and Holy Days throughout the year. An invitation was extended by the Presbyterians for the use of their church for an indefinite period.
Meanwhile, an anonymous donor offered Bishop Fletcher $20,000 toward the cost of building a Catholic church in the Greers Ferry area in honor of St. Albert the Great, Bishop Fletcher's patron saint. (It was later learned the donor was Estell Roche Hartnett.) Mrs. Hartnett subsequently donated the marble statue of St. Albert which is located outside the entrance to the church.
Land was offered to the Catholics by two developers in the area. The present site was accepted, and on Novemeber 21, 1967, Bishop Fletcher formally accepted the deed to the property consisting of 2 1/2 acres of land donated by the Cleburne Corporation, represented by Andrew McDory, President, and Robert L. Harrison, Realtor.
On February 4, 1968, a Parish Building Committee was selected, and on Auguest 4, 1968, Bishop Fletcher blessed and dedicated the site for the new St. Albert's Mission Church. In a conversation at a luncheon following the dedication of the land, Bishop Fletcher stressed the need for raising funds in order to make the building of the church possible.
On Novermber 15, 1968, an open meeting was held for the purpose of explaining how the new church would be financed. Mrs. L. Harrison's sister offered a $24,000 boat to be sold with the proceeds to be used for the Building Fund. To ease the financial burden, Bishop Fletcher offered to match any money the group pledged. Although the pledges were not made public, the sum received from the Bishop's office was $15,000. the remainder of the money to complete the church project was borrowed through the Diocese of Little Rock.
Construction was started in December, 1968, and completed by June 1, 1969. The first Mass was offered on June 2, 1969. The Church was formally dedicated on June 21, 1970 by His Excellency Bishop Albert Fletcher.
With the growth of the parish, ground was broken on June 24, 1981, for the purpose of expanding the church and for the construction of a Parish Center for eduaction and social functions. The completed Parish Center and church expansion were formally dedicated on January 10, 1982. Through out the next several more land was purchased.
Further expansion of the Parish Center in 1993 added 6 classrooms adjacent to the main hall (one of the present classrooms was originally designated as a storeroom to hold the tables and chairs when they were not in use.) Included in the expansion was an enlargement of the kitchen to accommodate a commercial dishwasher, larger pantry area and storage cabinets. A new "hall" wing was added which included: a parish office; a room designated for the pastor with a bathroom/shower to faciliate overnight accommodations; two classrooms; a storeroom; a copy machine/mail room; furnace/ac room; and a new primary entranceway.
Expansion and renovation plans were begun in 2005 planning for a new church building. With our growing parish family and many more visiters during the summer months there was a need for a larger church. Pledges were collected. All the stained glass windows, Stations of the Cross, and baptism font were paid before we even started building. Several of our church furnishings were built by our parishioners.
Ground was broken in Nov. 2008. The church dedication was held by Bishop Anthony Taylor on Dec. 19, 2009.
We are a mission church so our Pastors have resided in the neighboring towns of Fairfield Bay and Searcy. Currently our Pastor resides at Searcy
Saint Albert's parish is a family of Catholic believers seeking to know, love, and serve God and others. We recognize Christ in one another and so use our gifts of time, talent, and treasure to serve the community and world. We are dedicated to creating an environment of welcoming and fellowship through worship, outreach, evangelization, and service.
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow charity;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light; and
Where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying to ourselves that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
Parishioner Prayer List
Please say a prayer for world peace. Also remember those listed in our prayer book and in our bulletin at St. Albert's parish.
Fr. Edward E. Simpson 1962-1969
Fr. Ruiben Groff 1969-1979
Fr.Richard P. Davis 1979-1983
Fr. John E. Barnes 1983-1993
Fr. Frances D. Colavechio 1993-1995
Fr. Robert T. Dienert 1995-2001
Fr. James Fanrak 2001-2002
Fr.Udo Vincent Ogbuji 2002-2007
Fr. John O. Agbakwuo 2007- 2011
Fr. Mathew Malapati 2011- 2016
Fr. Felix Chirapurahtel 2016
This is an evangelization program using the Internet and television to bring Catholics back to the Church. This is a full-time national apostolate. The program now features a new advertising campaign and an interactive Web site: www.CatholicsComeHome.org.