Welcome to 52 Masses

CONTACT ME: I welcome any visitors to the site to reach out to me directly if you are interested in sharing any information with me, are looking for more information or are interested in learning when the book is published. Please email me at 52Masses@gmail.com if you’d like to reach me or be added to my mailing list.

Welcome to 52 Masses. Thanks for joining me.

My name is Daniel Markham. I’m a lifelong practicing Catholic who worships at St. Gerald in Oak Lawn, Illinois. I have also been writing professionally for almost 30 years. Now, these two biographical data points have collided.

Starting in June, I embarked on a mission to attend Sunday Mass in each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. At each parish or place I visit, I will write about something going on there, a short profile of the many interesting and inspiring people and endeavors in the Catholic Church in the United States. Upon completion of my year-long trip, the journey will be chronicled in the book, 52 Masses.

These won’t necessarily be groundbreaking types of stories – merely interesting ones. It’s my assertion that every parish has at least one story to tell, if not many. Every day, Catholics across the country are doing amazing things, putting their faith into action in innumerable ways. The hope is that through this collection of stories, I can paint a broader picture of life in the Catholic Church in 2021.

Here, I’ll update the progress of the book over the next two years, chronicling highlights of the trip as it takes place. I welcome any and all to join me, with thoughts, comments and suggestions. I hope to have many of you accompany me on this journey, at least in the digital sense.

God Bless

A Church Grows in Blythewood

Staying in the Carolinas, I spent Divine Mercy Sunday (see, I told you I had a lot of catching up to do) at Transfiguration Parish in Blythewood, S.C.

Transfiguration is relatively young, as the photos likely demonstrate. The church was founded in 2000 in a rural area north of Columbia. As you can see, the beauty at Transfiguration is largely found outside the church, which sits on a couple of hundred acres of land and is surrounded by tall trees. The parish has made good use of the setting.

From the perspective of the book, Transfiguration was a somewhat unique stop on my trip, as I was there to profile a single lay person, a lovely woman named Connie Turgeon who I’m sure all will find inspirational.

I didn’t get any photos of Connie, because I’m often dumb like that.

The sun rises over Transfiguration.
The outdoor Stations of the Cross.
A walking Rosary.
The modest interior at Transfiguration.

A Transformation in Charlotte

I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

All the way back in April, the first weekend after Easter, I visited the Carolinas for Masses in on successive days. The first stop was St. Ann, home to what was once described by parishioners as the “ugliest church in Charlotte.”

A years-long campaign means that’s no longer the case, as the church has embarked on a building project and a corresponding in artwork to adorn the worship space. More work on the growing parish community is taking place between the church and an activity center. I also have photos of that, but it’s mostly gravel and chain link fences, so I’m omitting it from the collection here.

St. Ann has a well-attended Latin Mass among its weekly services, and thus the church has several features prominent to that kind of traditional setting, including the pulpit pictured below.

Thanks again to all who have been following me. I’m winding down rapidly now, with just six stops remaining on the actual trip.

Murals behind the altar.
The parish has added a tremendous amount of iconography and statues in the past decade.

The pulpit, fitting of a parish where the Latin Mass is celebrated.

St. Ignatius, Montana

Situated in the city it gave name to and at the base of the mountains it did as well is St. Ignatius Mission, the final stop on my recent swing through the return address portion of the United States’ envelope.

St. Ignatius Mission is the oldest Catholic parish in the Jesuit tradition in the West, arriving in the area in 1954 at the behest of the Salish and Kootenai people who lived there. The church, a National Register of Historic Places site, has been serving the people of the Flathead Reservation since then.

A renovation of the historic space was completed just last year, returning the worship space and its 58 intricate murals back to its original splendor.

The church, with the mountains it gave name to in the background.
The mission church features 58 murals.

The first home for the missionaries still stands.

A Catholic Home on the Prairie

Following my trip to Washington State, I headed east to neighboring Idaho. Geographically and demographically, the two parishes couldn’t be more dissimilar. Which is kind of the point.

Christ Our Hope was the ultimate urban parish, not far from the Puget Sound, the Central Business District and the very first Starbucks.

In contrast, the Tri-Parish Catholic Community was tucked away in rural Idaho, miles above sea level with farms in all directions. And, as the last photo will show, quite a bit more small-town than the home of the Space Needle.

And yet, the two locations were equally captivating.

In addition to the three churches – Assumption in Ferdinand, St. Mary’s in Cottonwood and St. Anthony in Greencreek – the area is also home to the Monastery at St. Gertrude, a still-active home to approximately 30 nuns. It was a lovely area in a truly beautiful setting, which the photos below will confirm to some degree.

The Monastery at St. Gertrude
Assumption Church in Ferdinand before Mass.
St. Mary’s in Cottonwood.

St. Anthony in Greencreek.
The sign greeting visitors to Greencreek identifying the residents of the area, and the distances to their homes.

Mass in the Heart of the City

After setting aside some time for Holy Week, I’m returning to my trip across the Pacific Northwest, this time in downtown Seattle.

Christ Our Hope is only 10 years old. It’s a unique parish, set inside the historic former New Washington Hotel, which had already been converted to a 240-room residence building for low-income men and women. The apartments are run by Catholic Housing Services, which is how the parish eventually came to be. The worship space is the old dining room for the New Washington Hotel.

The parish is very much a part of the downtown community, which I saw firsthand when I joined three regulars with the Sacred Encounters Ministry, walking the streets of downtown and passing out sandwiches, water and other essentials to the city’s significant homeless population. Their commitment, patience and good cheer in this ministry was inspiring, and I was blessed to have been invited to accompany them.

Christ Our Hope sits right on the corner of Stewart and Second streets in Seattle.

Mass is held in the old dining room of the former New Washington Hotel.

The beautiful font.

Before Christ Our Hope was founded, the hotel had already been converted into low-income housing by Catholic Housing Services in the city. The lobby was restored as part of the founding of Christ Our Hope.

Before leaving the city, I stopped off at St. James Cathedral.