It’s been a long three weeks, but I’m finally getting back on the road this weekend. I’m heading to Cabot, Arkansas, to worship at St. John the Baptist.
St. John the Baptist serves as the Latin Mass parish for the Diocese of Little Rock, with all services being performed in the form. I’ll be writing about the appeal of the form to those Catholics who prefer it.
This won’t be my first Latin Mass. When my oldest son, Ian, graduated from Johns Hopkins, I woke up early on graduation day to take in a daily Mass at National Shrine of St. Alphonsus Liguori, which just happened to be sitting across the street from our hotel. Here are a few photos of that beautiful church, once home to St. John Neumann.
OK, as our most recent trip had to be postponed for a few weeks, I’m going back to before the beginning for this entry.
On June 5, while on my way to St. Patrick in Nashua, N.H., I realized I was going to arrive much earlier than I anticipated. So early, in fact, the church wouldn’t be open by the time I arrived.
Given an extra half-hour to play with, I thought it would be neat to visit a different church beforehand, one with a pretty meaningful connection. Just across the state line from Nashua sits Lowell, Massachusetts, where my father was born and raised before moving to New York.
I’d only made one previous trip to Lowell, when I was a child and my dad drove us past his boyhood home. This time, I made a pit stop at his childhood parish, St. Margaret of Scotland.
It seemed kind of a nice way of informally kicking things off, and something I know my late grandparents, Ed and Marie Markham, would have been most delighted with. Truth be told, I’m pretty sure those daily Mass attendees would have been extraordinarily pleased with this entire endeavor.
Interestingly enough, since my visit, St. Margaret has combined with two other local parishes, St. John the Evangelist of North Chelmsford and St. Mary of Chelmsford, to form the Holy Rood Collaborative. The Holy Rood refers to any image of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and John, standing together at the foot of The Cross.
The name of the new collaborative is quite fitting, as each has a connection to the Holy Rood. St. Mary and St. John the Evangelist’s connections are obvious. As for St. Margaret, I’ll let the collaborative’s website take it from here…
“It is said that when 21-year-old Margaret had to flee to Scotland following the conquest of England in 1066, she brought her most valuable treasure with her… a true relic of the specific wooden cross upon which Christ was crucified and died. In 1070, her husband, Malcom III, founded the Abbey of Dunfermline, where she kept this relic enshrined in an ebony colored crucifix—this is how the term Black Rood came into being, which it is often referred to. In 1093, as she lay dying, it was this relic to which she clung.
“Her great love and devotion of this relic inspired her son, King David I, the youngest of St. Margaret’s children to erect the Holy Rood Abbey in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1128. It was here that the relic continued to be safeguarded until it was regained by the English in 1346,” the website notes.
Over the course of the year, I’m going to worship in a number of places outside the traditional parish setting. Last Friday’s Mass was one of those, though in this case it was unplanned.
I spent much of the day Thursday and Friday at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. My mother-in-law had been admitted to the hospital on Wednesday, and I ferried Kem down to the capital city to spend time with her mom.
While Kem and her dad visited Mary Lou in the two-person capacity ICU room, I took in Mass with Father Patrick Nwokeogu, who has spent the last three years as chaplain at the hospital. This won’t be the last time I’m worshiping in the healthcare setting. Later this year, I will profile Father Timothy Regan as he fulfills his duties with the University of Iowa hospital system.
In the meantime, please say a prayer for my mother-in-law, who has been a wonderful presence in my life these last 30 years.
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 have 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, then chronicle 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.
I made another foray beyond the 52 this past Saturday when I returned to Greensburg, where Kem and I lived for 15 years.
My Saturday afternoon roam around St. Mary’s did not take me to the church where all three of our kids were baptized. Rather, it’s the spectacular new church and school facility several years after we headed north.
I’ve been slipping into empty churches like this one for some quiet moments of prayerful reflection for the past few years. Though few have the personal connection we have with St. Mary’s, it’s always a nice way to slow down and spend some time.