Serving Gate City Since 1889


August 18, 2018

Dear Holy Rosary Sisters and Brothers,

I lack words to describe my emotions in the past several weeks of the life of the Catholic Church.  In private moments, there are tears of sorrow and of rage.  In public moments, I try to offer words that go beyond the church version of ‘thoughts and prayers.’  Through it all, there is a sense of horror, depression, and nausea; an inchoate blend of physical, emotional and spiritual responses to the crisis of faith and trust inflamed by the ever more detailed and systemic accounts of abuses within the Church I love and serve.

It would be hypocritical of me to counsel people not to feel anger and sorrow because as a husband, a father, a priest, and a pastor I share in those emotions while I also work in prayer and action for light in a very dark moment.  I referred to this horror in the homily yesterday; and we offered particular prayers as well.  We will do so again in the coming time as we acknowledge the profound pain caused by leaders of our Church who we betrayed both our trust and God’s.  But these seem deeply inadequate to the challenges at hand.

On Sunday afternoon, after our Mass and our extended time of conversation afterwards, I returned to the parish, this time in jeans rather than clerics and vestments.  And I spent the afternoon cleaning out the sacristy and the space under the high altar.  Our parish was built in 1889 and remains the last mission church of that time in its original form.  Like the church itself, the high altar was constructed by local craftsmen, members of the parish.  From the front, it is beautiful and solid but from the back we see that it was made from scrap wood lovingly fitted together.  It is itself a theological statement of beauty, trust, and gift; as much from the back as from the front.  Over time, dirt, debris, and storage has cluttered up the space under the altar and obscured the gifts of a member of our community.

Integrity requires that we be as attentive to what is under the altar as we are to what is on top, both literally and metaphorically.  The horror caused by the betrayal of priests and bishops against our trust and God’s has many wondering where truth and beauty is to be found, indeed if truth and beauty can be found.  Here at Holy Rosary, in our small community, we are not without resources to find truth and beauty.

We find beauty and truth in our community, especially in its extensive works of service to our neighbors.  We find beauty and truth in the food and clothing pantry that operates at a scale unparalleled in Birmingham as we find them also in our afterschool and athletic programs for neighborhood kids.  We find truth and beauty in our worshipping community, in our sacramental life, and in our times of fellowship and meals.  This is where I find light in these dark moments.

I remain horrified by the abuse and betrayal.  As the father of two growing boys some of my responses are visceral and not very helpful.  I share in the search for reparation and the commitment to it never happening again.  I do not know the response of the bishops and I read with gratitude the letter of Pope Francis this day.  I do not know what comes next in the life of the broader Church nor can I imagine what other sordid revelations might appear.  However, I do know something of what comes next for us.

We can be attentive to our mission at Holy Rosary in Gate City.  We can clean and rebuild our church.  We can talk about our faith and the many crises within it.  We can advocate for justice and pray for peace.  We can continue to express the healing and saving love of God; and we can clean out what is under the altar, sometimes one of the few worthy responses we have in these dark days.

So, in the weeks, months, and years ahead we will be church together; doing what we can to be worthy of the promises of Christ.  I ask your prayers and assure you of mine.

In Christ,

Fr. Jon Chalmers



Holy Rosary Catholic Church is:

  • A vibrant, diverse, and intimate worshipping community,
  • A historic parish of the Diocese of Birmingham with a rich history and beautiful 125 year old building, and
  • An astonishing community of missionary disciples serving our neighbors through the food bank & clothing closet, after-school, soccer teams, and summer programs.

Join us for Mass on Sundays and Wednesdays and join our efforts to meet Christ in Sacrament and Service.

Realizing the Kingdom of God:

The first apostolate of any parish is to worship the Lord and pray together in faith. From these encounters with the Lord and with each other flow so many works of charity, for faith without works is dead. The primary works that we have been called by God to undertake at Holy Rosary are:

Food Pantry And Clothing Closet

The Holy Rosary Food Pantry distributes food to over 500 households, approximately 1,300 individuals, from the surrounding community. Local participating families receive a large box of food once per month which includes canned goods, bread, meat and vegetables.

After-School & Summer youth Program

After school care provides a safe, fun and enriching place for approximately 120 children a week ranging on average from 6 years of age to 13 years of age. All ages are welcome.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Learning Center

This new initiative is aimed at increasing literacy among the youth that frequent our after-school program. The St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Learning Center is located in the front part of the Rectory.  

Soccer Program

In the fall of 2016, 14 boys and girls participate with Holy Rosary Angels U10 Soccer Team while another 6 players participated in the U12 and U14 soccer teams in Irondale.

Normal Schedule

Sundays, Mass at 8:30am

Christian Education for Adolescents and Adults following on 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of month.

Parish Potluck on 1st Sunday of each month.

Wednesdays, Mass at 8:00am

Parish Life