This article first appeared on Rorate Caeli on August 26; at the request of the author, Jen Macintosh, it is here reproduced with their kind permission. Ms Macintosh is also the writer of a blog called Wildflowers and Marbles.
The community steadily increased in support and number, and a building fund was established and maintained, with the goal of purchasing property for the establishment of a personal parish. Five years after first expressing a desire for the Traditional Latin Mass, the vision of Father Mackey and the community of faithful came to fruition with the purchase of an Anglican Church in the Five Points district of Huntsville, at 1201 Kingsbury Avenue. Providentially, the first Mass in the new building was offered on January 31, 2013, the Feast of St. John Bosco, who had a special devotion to Our Lady under the title Help of Christians.
On the 4th Sunday of Lent, March 10, 2013, after years of prayer and hard work by many faithful, along with generous donations, the newly formed Catholic Church was officially dedicated by Bishop Robert Baker, using the 1962 Dedication of a Church Rite, as a personal parish within the Diocese of Birmingham, and established Our Lady, Help of Christians in Huntsville, Alabama as a diocesan Traditional Latin Mass parish. Immediately following the Dedication, Father Mackey, whom Bishop Baker appointed pastor to Our Lady, Help of Christians, offered a High Mass.
Due to the Virgin Mary’s constant intercession and maternal protection, the parish chose the name Our Lady, Help of Christians, a title given to Our Lady by Pope St. Pius V after the Christians’ naval victory over the Turkish fleet at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571.
The Traditional Latin Mass, offered according to the 1962 books, is now available regularly to those in the Huntsville and surrounding areas. Every Sunday there are two Mass options: Low Mass at 7:00 am, and a High Mass at 12:00 pm (preceded by the recitation of the Rosary.) Mass is offered on all Holy Days of Obligation, and regular weekday Mass is offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays (with First Saturday Devotions led by Father Mackey.) With great devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament, the parish spends one day each month in Adoration. The parish enjoys the rich blessings offered through the 1962 calendar such as parish processions, Sacramental celebrations, and traditional observation of the liturgical calendar on Ember days and beautiful feasts of the church.
Father Mackey observes, “A majority of the parishioners were born after the Second Vatican Council, thus they do not attend the Traditional Latin Mass for nostalgic reasons nor to make a political statement. This has been a canard frequently aimed at those who attend the Traditional Latin Mass. Most seek solace in the transcendence and silence that emanates from the Mass.”
In the year since the dedication of the parish, membership has grown steadily. Parish life has also grown with a focus on renewing Catholic Culture in and through the parish. There are occasional festivals and receptions anchored to feasts of the Church. Classes for adults are offered as well as classes for children preparing to receive Sacraments. A parish Altar and Rosary society has formed and through the work of generous volunteers maintains the beautiful interior of the Church. The church maintains a St. Vincent de Paul outreach to the local community, and is involved in vibrant pro-life work.
Our Lady, Help of Christians parish, in looking to the future and under the leadership of Father Mackey, continues to identify and pursue a number of building projects to improve the interior and exterior church grounds.
Father Mackey concludes, “In a world that is increasingly hostile to our Catholic faith, the Traditional Latin Mass is a rock of stability. For at least fifteen centuries, the (Traditional Latin) Mass has directed the mind, heart and soul of man toward the transcendent majesty of God.”
Our Lady, Help of Christians Traditional Latin Mass parish maintains a website with pertinent and up to date information: ourladyhelpofchristians-al.org.