Mater Dei: A New Parish Church, by Dr. Taylor Marshall

by Taylor Marshall

On October 9th, His Excellency Kevin Farrell, Bishop of Dallas, blessed our new parish Mater Dei Catholic Church for the Diocese of Dallas. While many of the parishioners have prayed for this moment for decades, our family greeted the day as newcomers. We have been members of the parish for only a few months.

My family and I entered the Catholic Church in 2006. Prior to our conversion, I had served as an Anglican clergyman. The liturgy that we had experienced in the Anglican Communion was generally reverent—kneelers, altar rails, chant, and ad orientem altars. After we entered the Catholic Church, we experienced a time transition in some Catholic parishes where the music tended toward the folk genre and where Holy Communion was received standing—two things quite different from our previous experience. Nevertheless, we were grateful to be fully Catholic, in communion with the Holy See, and recipients of all the prayers and blessings of Holy Mother the Church.

Several months ago, we decided to visit the local parish served by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP)—Mater Dei Catholic Church in Irving, Texas. The decision was not based on idealism or nostalgia. Nor did we seek it out in reaction to anything we had experienced. We simply attended Sunday Mass on a whim, and discovered that our family immediately felt at home. The first thing we noticed was that our five children behaved more reverently on account of the liturgical environment. As we began to attend daily Mass at Mater Dei and receive confession and spiritual direction, we immediately appreciated the committed priestly ministry exhibited by Father Thomas Longua and Father Philip Wolf.

Although we are relatively new to Mater Dei Catholic Church, we were as eager as everyone else for the church’s blessing. Day by day we stuck our heads into the church to find new construction, new altars, new pews, new confessionals, and new artwork. And when the day for the blessing finally arrived, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was stunning. Father Thomas Longua celebrated, Father Phil Wolfe served as deacon, and Father Flood served as subdeacon. Bishop Kevin Farrell blessed the building (he chanted all his parts in Latin), and His Excellency preached an encouraging homily about the need to evangelize our culture and teach the Catholic Faith in an era when many Catholics have not been rightly catechized.

Bishop Farrell’s words at the Mass and during the reception were very humble, kind, and beautiful. Everyone was grateful to have His Excellency present. A hearty thank you to Bishop Farrell and to the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter for making this parish possible. We thank Almighty God for the unique blessing of being part of an exciting renewal of Christ’s Church. Deo gratias!

Taylor Marshall is a former Episcopalian clergyman and currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Dallas. He is the author of The Catholic Perspective on Paul and The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholicism. He blogs at Canterbury Tales {}. You may also be interested in his post: “Seven Reasons Why I Joined a Latin Mass Parish.”

You can visit Mater Dei Church here:

Photos provided by Ron St. Angelo.

October 25, 2010