Jonesboro, AR— Bishop Anthony B. Taylor, Bishop of the Diocese of Little Rock will preside over the dedication ceremony of the new Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church on Sunday, January 13, 2019, at 11 a.m. at the church, 1101 E. Highland Drive. The public is invited to attend the service, which will be bilingual in English and Spanish. A Mass will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the church that evening for those unable to attend the dedication.
History of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Jonesboro:
A Chapel built in 1905 by the Sisters of Holy Angels Convent was where Blessed Sacrament Church parishioners of Jonesboro attended Mass until Catholics were able to build another church on South Church Street 1933. The first church had a seating capacity of 360. The property was also home to Blessed Sacrament School, a playground, parking lot, and the parish hall. As the number of families grew, the parish facilities became inadequate and plans began for a move to a new location. Property was secured on East Highland Drive and the school was built first in 2011. The church would remain on South Church Street until funds could be raised to facilitate the move.
Through years of planning, generous donations, and an offer from St. Bernard’s Hospital to purchase the existing property, Blessed Sacrament parish was able to begin the moving process in 2017. The move was not without great distress for many with the loss of the school and church buildings that had held so many memories for members of the parish and Jonesboro community.
Brackett Krennerich and Associates Architects were selected to design a new church on property purchased on East Highland Drive and Nabholz Construction was hired to build the new church. “Building this church was a monumental task because church members wanted to preserve many of the larger sentimental and historical items, like the stained glass windows, the pews, the main crucifix, and statues, from the old church and use them in the new location,” said Adam Seiter, Project Manager for Nabholz Construction, who is also a church member. The architects designed the new church around a Neo-Classical style in an effort to use the items preserved from the old church yet giving the new church the design desired by the parish.
“An example of a Neo-Classical Church in the United States is Baltimore Basilica in Baltimore, Maryland,” said Kyle Cook President of Brackett Krennerich and Associates. “The design of the Baltimore Basilica was influenced by the same classical language as Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. There are also many examples of Neo-Classical church architecture throughout Europe,” Cook said.
Father Alphonse Gollapalli is the current pastor at Blessed Sacrament. Fr. Alphonse and Louis Schaaf, parish member, along with a 14 member building committee, oversaw the $7 million construction project on behalf of the church. “Hubert Brodell was planning to co-chair the building committee with me before he became ill,” recalled Schaaf. “Just before Hubert passed away, he gave me his blessing and told me to go build a church. I was honored to do this for him and so many others that have given their time, talent, and treasure to our church and it’s philanthropies over the years,” said Schaaf.
The new church is larger and has a seating capacity of 550, needed as the parish has grown to over 1400 families. The new altar, which depicts the last supper, the lectern, and the baptismal font are made of marble. Keller’s of Jonesboro refinished the grand altar and the two side altars brought from the old church. Prominent new features on the south elevation are the bell tower and the rose window. The bells from the old church were added to the new tower. David Soo of Soo’s Stained Glass in Maumelle, Arkansas, was commissioned by the church to create the new rose window. The rose window is divided into 6 separate windows and a centerpiece, representing the Blessed Sacrament. The six outer windows represent the father, son, and holy spirit, and then faith, hope and charity; symbols of the virtues of which the faithful are called to live by.