Favorite

The Cosmic Coyote 

More than half of Arkansas's Catholics are Latino now, and it all started 20 years ago with a Hispanic outreach ministry headquartered in the glove box of Father Scott Friend's Chevy. 

Years from now, when Arkansas has a stable, deep-rooted population of born-and-raised Latinos, and the issue of who is "legally" or "illegally" in this state has largely been settled by time, one thing is for sure: People will still speak the name of Msgr. Scott Friend in the reverent tones usually reserved for a saint.

Ordained as a priest 25 years ago last month, Friend is that kind of guy, and has led that kind of life. Stricken with multiple sclerosis 10 years ago (his doctor told him he should have retired seven years back, but he keeps plugging away in near-constant fatigue and pain), Friend still hums with charisma and enthusiasm. It shows in the good works he has done all over the state, especially in the Hispanic community.

Call the Catholic parish in DeQueen, or in Rogers, or in Springdale, or Camden, or at the predominately-Hispanic St. Edward Church in Little Rock, and ask about him. Within just a few phone calls, you'll more than likely hear at least one story that's apt to get your eyes a little misty: Hispanic parishioners speaking in spotty English about marriages and children saved from ruin; Father Scott making midnight trips to fix broken air conditioners and broken people; Father Scott knocking on the doors of ramshackle trailers in the hot Arkansas sun and telling the scruffy Latino laborers who appeared in the doorway that they were welcome at the church; Father Scott coming in the dark to sit with the sick, and the troubled, and the dying.

He really listens, they'll tell you. He cares.

In short, when Arkansas's Hispanics come into their own as a force in this state, there are going to be a few things with Scott Friend's name on them. For now, as the vocations director for the Little Rock diocese — the office that recruits and shepherds new seminary students toward the priesthood — he's helping shape what the future of Catholicism (and maybe the cause of social justice in general) will look like in Arkansas. As for the rest of you, Catholic or not, he's got a message: If you consider yourself a Christian and refuse to feel love and compassion for your Hispanic neighbors just because they don't look like you or come from the same place as you do, you're doing nothing less than turning your back on God Almighty.

A kid from Southwest

Not only does the Lord work in mysterious ways, He tends to have a pretty good sense of humor. It's not surprising then that Scott Friend was raised in Southwest Little Rock, which is now home to the majority of the city's Hispanic population.

The child of dentist Dr. Max Friend and his wife, Betty, Friend said he learned a lot about hope from his mother, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia just before Friend's older brother was born. Though doctors warned the Friends not to have any more children after Betty's diagnosis, Betty eventually became pregnant with Scott, who was born in June 1961 and grew up in the Cloverdale neighborhood.

"I remember she would pray everyday for about an hour," Friend said. "She was a great symbol of hope to me, because for an hour a day, she went to a place inside her where she didn't have a disease. In that place, she was free, and she knew that she was more than that disease."

Friend took his first communion at St. Theresa Catholic Church on Baseline. By the time he was a teen-ager, however, he'd started to drift away from the church. He went to the University of Arkansas, but after three years of living the life of your average college student, he felt an emptiness inside him. Two and a half years after his last confession, he went to the local Catholic church. As penance, the priest told him to read the Bible every day for a month. It was during that month that Friend says God spoke to him, and asked him if he was ready. You already know how that particular conversation went. Friend started seminary school in the autumn of 1982.

Favorite

Comments (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

More by David Koon

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Lessons from Standing Rock

    A Fayetteville resident joins the 'water protectors' allied against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • Child welfare too often about 'punishing parents,' DCFS consultant tells legislators

    Reforms promised by the Division of Children and Family Services are "absolutely necessary," the president of DCFS's independent consultant told a legislative committee this morning. But they still may not be enough to control the state's alarming growth in foster care cases.
  • Donald Trump taps Tom Price for HHS Secretary; Medicaid and Medicare cuts could be next

    The selection of Tom Price as HHS secretary could signal that the Trump administration will dismantle the current healthcare safety net, both Medicaid and Medicare.
  • Fake economics

    Fake news is a new phenomenon in the world of politics and policy, but hokey economic scholarship has been around as long as Form 1040 and is about as reliable as the news hoaxes that enlivened the presidential campaign.

Latest in Cover Stories

  • Vive la resistance!

    House Minority Leader Michael John Gray wants to chair the Democratic Party of Arkansas. His plan to lead the party back to relevance: Start listening to Arkansas again.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • A new day for child welfare?

    After strategizing for months, DHS officials have a plan to address Arkansas's foster care crisis.
    • Nov 24, 2016
  • Jeff Nichols, 'Loving' and the space in between

    The Little Rock native turns to an unheralded chapter of the civil rights era with his new film.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Lessons from Standing Rock

    A Fayetteville resident joins the 'water protectors' allied against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • Vive la resistance!

    House Minority Leader Michael John Gray wants to chair the Democratic Party of Arkansas. His plan to lead the party back to relevance: Start listening to Arkansas again.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Vive la resistance!

    • Isn't Asa Hutchinson up for re-election 2018?????? Maybe Donald will offer Asa a job in…

    • on December 4, 2016
  • Re: Lessons from Standing Rock

    • How I Was Rescued From Debt And a collapsing Business By Edward Jones.. {jonesloanfinance@yahoo.com}.. Good…

    • on December 3, 2016
  • Re: Ruth Coker Burks, the cemetery angel

    • Thank you, Ruth! Thank you.

    • on December 2, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation