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Monday, January 2, 2023

The Gift of Coming Home! We Finally Have a Chapel That Looks Like a Church! Happy New Year!

This was our chapel in May of 2021 as we celebrated Mary and prepared to crown her.

Since 2020, my husband and I have been wanderers in Traditional Latin Mass Land. It all started with the COVID lockdowns and the craven behavior of bishops who preferred to deny the Mass to their flocks rather than find creative ways to manage government mandates. So, while our local ordinary cancelled all the Masses in the diocese, the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) answered the call from grieving Catholics and offered the Mass at the fairgrounds in Front Royal, VA. The governor allowed it and the bishop could have done it in every region of the diocese. He chose not to.

In the beginning, Mass attendees sat in our cars while the priest prayed at an altar set up under a tent. We tuned in via our cell phones. Ushers invited us out car by car to receive Holy Communion at the makeshift altar rail. Penitents lined up (socially distant) to go to confession kneeling in the grassy field confessing to a priest sitting on a folding chair. We got a chance to experience what it must have been like for the chosen people in the Old Testament making their way to the Promised Land. They set up the worship tent whenever they stopped; our community set it up every Sunday for the several Masses offered to accommodate the crowds.

Holy Thursday saw us, still in our cars, while poor Father shivered, only partially protected by the park pavilion on a windy, rainy night. We sat with the heater on; he suffered the inclement weather for our benefit. Sacrifice and suffering, our priests imitated Christ.

The mandates relaxed somewhat and we moved out of our cars into the fairground pavilion. Every Sunday, the priests, accompanied by some of the seminarians, continued to travel from the seminary in Dillwyn, VA near Charlottesville to set up our temporary church with the help of a generous flock of laity. What a labor of love! And to see the young altar boys and hear them responding to the priest was a joy. So many families, so many young children.

Our next move was to a handball court at a facility owned by a Catholic family. We were indoors out of the hot summer sun. It was small and some families, mostly with small children, were in an entrance room watching on TV. 

Finally, we moved to our current location in Linden converting a long room into a chapel. It was a strange arrangement with three small rooms behind the main room with large openings, a rather bizarre arrangement, but people continued to come. Our little congregation grew to the point we needed two Masses: a low Mass at 8:00 a.m. and a high Mass at 10:30. We sat on chairs with little garden mats for kneelers. Those of us who are past our prime and have difficulty getting up and down off the floor without a forklift had to give up kneeling.

Meanwhile, we acquired property and are fundraising to build a permanent home. For a time it looked like we would rent a building adjacent to our property, but permit issues kept delaying that. And so we recently rented the entire building at our current location which had a much larger room that could be converted and configured with the altar facing east. A chapel in Indiana was renovating and we got real pews with kneelers. The larger room will accommodate the larger numbers of worshipers wanting to come, some from several hours away.

The hope was to renovate the room and have it ready for midnight Mass. The painting was done and some building modifications finished when I went to help the Friday before Christmas. I arrived at 9:00 a.m. and my first thought was that it was impossible! The chapel room was filled with machinery, paint cans, spackle buckets, tools, extension cords, etc. The pews were in the other room and needed to be wiped down to remove the refinishing residue. Downstairs the sewing crew was working on the hangings and altarpiece. The heavy lifters had yet to arrive. 

Yikes! Could it really happen? St. Joseph, we need your help.

By the time I left at 4:00 p.m. the chapel had risen from the chaos. Only the Christmas decorating remained to be done. What a miracle -- accomplished by an army of volunteers with the help of St. Joseph and our guardian angels. And so, we celebrated Christmas in a little church worthy to welcome the New Born King.

What a happy new year for our little congregation. As I prayed yesterday morning, I rejoiced at our beautiful new chapel, a real home. And so, when I knelt at the crib, I thanked God for his many gifts to us. 

Returning to the Traditional Latin Mass is a joy to me, because it so truly honors God. Whether we celebrate in a field, in a gym, or now in a real church we join with all the saints and martyrs of a millennia who prayed this "Mass of the ages." My husband and I rejoice in God's goodness and His care for His people. May we all grow in wisdom and grace and holiness during 2023. 

Dear readers, you are all in my prayers at every Mass and in every rosary. I ask my guardian angel to pray with yours that God's will be done in every moment and circumstance of your life. And I beg for your prayers as well.

May Jesus Christ be praised! Now and forever!


  1. What a wonderful story. Thank you for some good news!

    When restrictions were lifted after Covid, my old FSSP parish found that they had so many new attendees, that even with four Masses on Sunday (now six), they had to turn the parish hall back into an extra chapel. It had been our chapel for a year during the remodel of the church we were finally allowed to buy.
    Another example of the power of the Vetus Ordo.

  2. My SSPX mission chapel is a refurbished Carpet Den store, so small that sometimes parishioners are standing and kneeling on the floor. No matter, we have had 2 Sunday weekly Masses all throughout Covid, (Tennessee is a little more Christ-friendly than some other states) and continue to have Masses as we are collecting for a new building. Deo gratias, we are blessed! Prayers for you as well, Mary Ann!

  3. What a wonderful story, thanks for that!

    A few years back we were participating in something called a "Mass Mob" in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area. There are many beautiful, historic churches in this area, but the number of parishioners has fallen and they were having a hard time paying the bills.

    Big, elaborate stained-glass window masterpieces.

    The Mass Mob leader selected a different parish once each month, and the "mobbers" would just show up, worship and contribute. One thing most of these parishes had in common was the lack of young people.

    It seems to me that a TLM group could benefit an old struggling parish with an infusion of younger, enthusiastic Catholics. Old struggling parishes could benefit TLM groups with an historic, beautiful location to perform the TLM.

    Just spitballing here, but what would it take?

    God rest ye merry, gentlemen.

  4. Beautiful story, thanks for sharing Mary Ann. I was away for Christmas, visiting family. A TLM wasn’t possible for my Christmas obligation due to location and scheduling, but by the grace of God, I was able to attend a Divine Liturgy at a Ruthenium Catholic mission. It was a very modest setting using a conference room, in the parish center of a diocesan church. They made do with what they had and I was impressed with the dedication the traveling priest and his tiny congregation clearly have. I think this type of scenario is where the Church is going: especially now that the great restrainer has been removed from Rome. Stay confessed everyone and DO NOT LOSE YOUR FAITH.

  5. I know not a few are consoled by having access to a sspx chapel but the sspx is effectively sedevacantist and even Ex Pope Benedict said it had no mission in the church. As early as 1991 Mons Lefevbre had tried to supplant the authority and Jurisdiction of the Pope...

    I am sorry Mary Ann, I don't mean to be mean but one who loves the faith choses to speak boldly another one who loves the Church

  6. I appreciate your comment, Mick, and will take a look at the site, but I find it hard to reconcile with a group that prays faithfully for the pope and bishop at every Mass and does not engage in attacking the pope like the sedevacantist groups do. There is rarely a negative word about the Vatican although they defend the truth against the papal scandals. I've heard them accused of schism, but not sedevacantism. But your welcome to defend your position here. I'm reading the massive biography of Archbishop Lefebvre by Bernard Tissier so that's my focus at present. I realize he's one of the bishops ordained by Lefebvre so He has a horse in the race. Nevertheless, it's an interesting and well-documented book.

  7. The SSPX publicly opposes the sedevacantist position. I think it's hard to support the case that they are, in fact, sedevantists.

    1. Dear Maryann

      Prior to his schism Msgr Levevbre said JPIi and the rest of the Catholic Hierarchy were all Antichrists and all had spiritual aids

      To be to fair to Lefevbre he was emotionally labile and confused

      I think the link I posted speaks for itself
      No matter he said he took actions that illustrated he thought there was no pope

  8. At this point it does not take a Canon Law genius to figure out the basics. This was a coup d’état. Pope Benedict was pressured. He had enough time to see that if he was assassinated the rebels would elect a successor of their own and the munus would have passed to a bad man. He devised a way to keep the munus while letting his enemies think they have captured the Papacy. But they were merely in Sede Impedita with someone playing kabuki dressed as a pope. I bet there are a bunch of good loyal bishops who will elect a pope “in the catacombs” so to speak. It may have happened already. Soon everything will be exposed (Luke 8:17) and this miserable episode will pile eternal shame on the conspirators. We are now in Sede Vacante and Pope Benedict won by sacrificing himself and keeping the munus until the end of his earthly life. His enemies will have to face the Terrible Judge. Poor fools! They have conquered the world only to lose their souls.

  9. Without the SSPX, there would be no FSSP, no Institute of Christ the King, etc. Very doubtful if even Benedict would have resurrected the Old Mass. God writes straight with crooked lines.

  10. That's beautiful. I'm happy for you.

  11. This is so exciting, Mary Ann. I have wondered for a long time about your new chapel in Middletown.
    Now I see you have renovated your Linden chapel.
    It’s beautiful.
    We attend the chapel in Upper Marlboro, so we both have Fathers from the Seminary.
    Traditionis Custodis sent us looking for a more permanent home.
    One Mass with the SSPX and we never looked back.
    This is the Mass and Faith we were born and Baptized into.
    Our Lord has been looking out for us.
    I feel like you shared a family Christmas Letter with us.
    All pictures and details are most welcome.

  12. I have attended the Masses of the SSPX for nearly 40 years. I remember the old days when the Society priests preached zealously against the New Mass and sacraments as well as against the errors of Montini and Wojtyła. Even with the loss of the bolder American priests in the early 1980s who went on to form the original SSPV, the SSPX remained firm and guileless so long as Msgr. Lefebvre lived. Today the SSPX is a kitten compared to the tiger it once was. The best priests--and best bishop--were expelled or left during the years when Msgr. Fellay was Superior General. And the laity who have come recently to SSPX Mass Centres no longer see Rome or local diocesan bishops and clergy as non-Catholic enemies. The SSPX of 2023 is not the same Society in principles and programme as the SSPX of 1983 or even 1993. I miss the old SSPX.

  13. Anonymous,

    How can any Catholic who loves the Lord and tries to live according to His will be a "non-Catholic enemy." Was I the enemy before I embraced the TLM whole-heartedly in 2020? I love my Catholic neighbors at the local NO parish. The holiness of some of them is palpable. Jesus told us to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves. I'm grateful for the gentleness of our SSPX priests.

    I remember several decades ago speaking at a small conference focusing on pro-life activities being offered by a traditionalist group. I met several very rigid and judgmental traditionalists there. It wasn't the first time. They sat in judgment of anyone who attended the Novus Ordo. Their attitude is what gives traditionalists a bad name as...well...rigid and judgmental. They certainly did not inspire me to "Come and see." The fire and brimstone Savonarola was never canonized; the meek and humble Francis de Sales was.

    God takes us where we are and "a little child shall lead them." It is the goodness, humility, and innocence of the children we are called to be that will ultimately win hearts and minds to Christ.

  14. The Tridentine mass seems to leave an indelible stamp on all who experience it. For me it was fall of 1971. Parents weekend at St. Benedict's college in Atchison Kansas. At this stage in my life I was pretty much an apostate Catholic not seeing the inside of a church since Junior year in high school. But with mom coming in for a visit I had to keep up the practicing Catholic illusion. That Sunday the monks had a special mass in the monastery church. Schuberts mass in C. Solemn high mass 3 priests, incense, beautiful music. I now understood what they meant by the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.
    To this day I still get goose bumps thinking about it. It was the one thing that kept me Catholic and after graduating from college drove me to seek out the Latin mass and the real church. That journey took me to underground masses, independent chapels, SSPX, ICKSP. I have never looked back.

  15. Sorry, Mary Ann my comment came across as anonymous.

  16. Dear Mary Ann. During his sermon for his illegal consecrations (for which he was justly excommunicated) Msgr (He was not a Prelate/Bishop) tries to justify his actions in such a way that he identified his own self as the one prophesied by Mary as he who would save the Church:

    ...And Our Lady prophesied for the 20th century, saying explicitly that during the 19th century and most of the 20th century, errors would become more and more widespread in Holy Church, placing the Church in a catastrophic situation. Morals would become corrupt and the Faith would disappear. It seems impossible not to see it happening today.

    I excuse myself for continuing this account of the apparition, but she speaks of a prelate who will absolutely oppose this wave of apostasy and impiety—saving the priesthood by forming good priests. I do not say that prophecy refers to me. You may draw your own conclusions. I was stupefied when reading these lines but I cannot deny them, since they are recorded and deposited in the archives of this apparition...

  17. Well, Mick, what if he WAS the prelate. As canonist Gregory Hesse said, in order to have a Catholic Church you must have priests. The priestly formation of the SSPX is excellent and shows in their sermons and in the confessional.

    It was the seminarians who begged for Archbishop Lefebvre's help. Without Archbishop Lefebvre's actions THERE WOULD BE NO TRADITIONAL LATIN MASS TODAY. I disagree with your assessment. And besides, the excommunications were lifted so it's a moot point. But thank you for commenting. Disagreements encourage me to research. All I want is to know an embrace the will of God and know His "Way, Truth, and Life." So let these civil conversations continue.