Last night the sleep of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at Little Portion Hermitage was interrupted as a raging fire burned their Chapel.
The Fire may have destroyed the structures but the faith of these Franciscans is fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit. They know, as St. Francis so elegantly taught, that the Call to "rebuild the Church" continues for every generation. They are "living stones" whose vibrant Christian faith will always find a way to rebuild.
WASHINGTON (Catholic Online) - At midnight last night the Chapel and Common Center of Little Portion Hermitage of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity (www.johnmichaeltalbot.com) burned to the ground.
Founded by John Michael Talbot in 1980, the covenant community of celibate brothers, celibate sisters, and families is located in Berryville, Arkansas.
John Michael Talbot tells about the event in his own words in his weblog on April 29th:
"Last night the sleep of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity, Monastic, was interrupted close to midnight as a raging fire burned our Chapel and Common Center to the ground.
"Viola and I were the first on the scene as I saw the orange/red glow through our hermitage's back windows. Upon arriving we found there were no hoses capable of stopping the raging flames. I ran up the hill and woke up the community, and we started the almost futile task of spraying down the part of the Common Center that had not yet burned and retrieving anything from inside we could still find.
"Although I have seen some house fires, I have never seen anything this big. The flames reached high into the sky. The smoke was very dense, as was the heat. Despite this, our people ventured into the smoky building to retrieve whatever they could reach.
"Some of us suffered from smoke inhalation. I spent a lot of time trying to get people out of the building before it exploded into flames. We finally surrendered to the inevitability that our Chapel and Common building were going to burn to the ground before the fire company could get to us.
"After 30 to 40 minutes the firemen and women began to arrive, followed soon after by the fire trucks and water trucks. Four fire companies responded and did heroic and valiant work at saving the other buildings from being consumed. We are most grateful for our volunteer fire departments!
"We lost some most valuable things in the fire. Our community archives were lost and all of the books in our library. The Troubadour stockroom and inventory were lost to the flames. All of the various awards received were melted in the intense heat of the fire. We have some back-ups from computers, but nothing current. It is our hope that most of this is covered by our insurance."
The community lost their offices, dining room, meeting rooms, archives, library, and storeroom in a blaze that brought firefighters from four different departments to battle the blaze. The firemen were able to keep the fire from spreading to the living quarters of the members.
In an official statement from John Michael Talbot, he thanked all those who had already offered love, assistance, and encouragement in their re-building.
"Eventually we will have to rebuild. We will rebuild with stone and earth in a way that is environmentally 'green.' At that point we may ask for donations from our benevolent benefactress. We are humbled and grateful beyond mere words for the outpouring of offers to help with food, housing and other things."
Little Portion is especially known through the music and ministry of John Michael Talbot, who is probably the most well known Catholic recording artist in recent history with sales of more than four million records worldwide. He has recorded more than forty albums.
Talbot was an early rock recording artist in the 1970's who had a powerful conversion experience while performing with his brother, Terry, in the group Mason Proffit. He left the group to seek a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and became a part of the growing Jesus Movement in America.
Upon further prayer and discernment he sought full-communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
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