The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock is opening a Shrine of the Divine Mercy -- a place where people can go throughout the week to pray, confess and worship -- at St. Edward Church in Little Rock on June 11.
Bishop Anthony Taylor hopes the shrine, catty-cornered from the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, will be a magnet for those seeking forgiveness, reconciliation and a closer walk with God.
A priest will be on hand during Eucharistic adoration every day but Monday to hear confessions.
The Shrine of Divine Mercy "focuses on reconciliation, being forgiven for sins," Taylor said. "There's a lot of hurting people in our society and our world, and it's a place to come for healing."
The state's only other Catholic shrine, Our Lady of the Ozarks Shrine, is along U.S. 71 in Winslow, population 365, roughly half way between Alma and Fayetteville.
While the small Washington county community is somewhat off the beaten path, the new shrine will be easy for Central Arkansans to reach.
"St. Edward's is just a magnificent church here in Little Rock and so ideally suited to be able to receive people coming up to pray there," Taylor said.
There's already a national Shrine of the Divine Mercy in the Berkshires which draws thousands of pilgrims to Stockbridge, Mass., roughly 135 miles west of Boston.
The Arkansas shrine's opening coincides with Corpus Christi Sunday, also known as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. (Corpus Christi is Latin for "Body of Christ.")
Pat Eichler, a longtime member, said fellow St. Edward parishioners are pleased with the church's new mission.
"Everyone is very enthusiastic, they're excited. They're anxious for the bishop to come," she said.
Taylor will commence the celebration with a 12:30 p.m. bilingual Mass at the Cathedral of St. Andrew, then lead a procession to St. Edward, which is roughly one-half mile to the southeast.
Once there, the bishop will bless an image for the shrine created by renowned Arkansas liturgical artist George Raymond Hoelzeman.
Taylor and others will also recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which includes a series of Our Fathers, Hail Marys and other prayers, along with multiple recitations of the Apostles Creed.
Worshippers also repeat a slightly modified version of the ancient Trisagion (Greek for "Thrice Holy"): "Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world."
Before offering a benediction, Taylor will sign a decree formally creating the shrine. It will be open to the public on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays 10-11 a.m. and noon-1 p.m. Eucharistic adoration and reconciliation will be available between 5 and 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and from 3-4 p.m Fridays through Sundays.
Masses will also be held at 6 p.m. Tuesdays, 7 a.m. Wednesdays, 6 p.m. Thursdays, 7 a.m. Fridays, 4 p.m. Saturdays and 9 and 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sundays, with the later two Masses on Sundays being held in Spanish.