Our Friend in Christ: Bishop McDonald

Bishop Emeritus Andrew J. McDonald, 90, our beloved, former bishop for 28 years, died April 1, 2014 at St. Joseph Home for the Elderly in Palatine, Ill. after months of declining health. He served as chaplain at the retirement home from 2002 to 2013. Bishop McDonald was the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Little Rock serving from 1972 to 2000. Many diocesan ministries began during his tenure, including the permanent diaconate, Mass for Life, Little Rock Scripture Study, Little Rock Theology Institute, Cursillo, Marriage Encounter, Pre-Cana and Retrovaille.

He ministered to refugees, Hispanics and African-Americans. He advocated for peace, the rights of the unborn and the poor. He spoke out against the death penalty, encouraged spiritual renewal, promoted vocations and strengthened ecumenical relations. Yet he defined his most significant experience to be Blessed Teresa of Calcutta's visit to Little Rock in 1982, during which she agreed to send sisters to run Abba House.

It was the "most outstanding and memorable moment of my 28 years," he said. "'Gold and silver, I have not. That which I have, I give you. I will send you my sisters and together we will make something beautiful for God.' Those words are seared in my mind and into my heart. Those words will be there until the day I die."

Saying Goodbye

The vigil service with rosary for Bishop McDonald was held Monday, April 7 at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock. It was followed by an all-night vigil during which the Cathedral remained open for prayer and visitation. The Mass of Christian Burial and interment was celebrated at the Cathedral on Tuesday, April 8. Watch or read the homily from the funeral.


As requested by Bishop McDonald, memorials may be made to the "Bishop Andrew J. McDonald Burse Fund" to be used in perpetuity for the educational expenses of seminarians studying for the Diocese of Little Rock. Donations should be payable to: Diocesan Seminarian Fund, Inc., at P.O. Box 7239, Little Rock, AR 72217, with a notation "Bishop McDonald Burse."


We want to hear from you. Share your memories on our Tribute to Bishop McDonald page from Arkansas Catholic. Did he marry you or baptize your children? Did he confirm you? Did he comfort you following the death of a loved one? What was your favorite joke of the bishop? We invite you to share your stories.

Facebook Posts

The following are posts to the diocesan Facebook page related to Bishop McDonald's illness and death. Comments and prayers posted about him are included.