Former Bishops

Beginning with Bishop Andrew Byrne, the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock has a rich history of dedicated shepherds who have led the Church in Arkansas since its founding in 1843. Click on a bishop below to learn more. en español

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain — 2000-2006

Archbishop J. Peter Sartain’s six years as bishop of Little Rock marked by far the shortest length of service in diocesan history, but it was time well spent. The youthful prelate’s intellect, piety and charm inspired thousands, many on a deeply personal level. Archbishop Sartain (then Bishop Sartain) had an uncanny knack for remembering names and devoted his full attention to every conversation. Learn more.

Bishop Andrew J. McDonald — 1972-2000

Andrew J. McDonald strengthened ecumenical ties with other churches in Arkansas and supervised a greatly expanded role for lay persons during his 28 years as the fifth bishop of Little Rock. The gregarious “man from Savannah” championed inter-denominational efforts on behalf of organized charities as he encouraged a spiritual renewal in Catholic parishes statewide. Learn more.

Bishop Albert L. Fletcher — 1946-1972

As the fourth bishop of Little Rock, Albert L. Fletcher guided the diocese through a period of profound social, racial and theological conflict and change. His 25-year episcopacy spanned the Cold War, the civil rights movement, Vatican II and the Vietnam War. Bishop Fletcher’s calm, courtly manner stood in stark contrast to the upheaval around him. Learn more.

Bishop John B. Morris — 1907-1946

John B. Morris, the third bishop of Little Rock, was born in Tennessee. After graduating from St. Mary’s College in Kentucky, he studied for the priesthood in Rome, where he was ordained June 11, 1892, at age 26. He was ordained a bishop at the Nashville cathedral and was assigned to Little Rock as coadjutor bishop on June 11, 1906. Bishop Morris took office immediately upon the death of Bishop Fitzgerald in 1907. Learn more.

Bishop Edward Fitzgerald — 1867-1907

The second bishop of Little Rock didn’t want the job. Not at first, anyway. But Father Edward M. Fitzgerald was commanded to obey the papal decree of April 24, 1866, appointing him to the post, thus beginning an episcopacy of 41 years. After his consecration in Columbus, Ohio, Bishop Fitzgerald arrived in Helena, Ark., by steamboat in 1867. At age 33, he was the youngest bishop in the United States. Learn more.

Bishop Andrew Byrne — 1844-1862

Andrew J. Byrne arrived in Little Rock on June 4, 1844, as the first bishop assigned to the frontier state of Arkansas. Pope Gregory XVI had established the Diocese of Little Rock on Nov. 28, 1843. Two months earlier, then-Father Byrne, pastor of St. Andrew Church in New York, had been told of his appointment to shepherd the new Arkansas See, which included for a time the Indian Territory west of Fort Smith. Learn more.