The changes came slowly in our parish because we had an older pastor who did not accept the changes gracefully, before he was forced into retirement.  The bishop sent him on vacation, leaving the young assistants to take over the parish with the liberal teaching sisters.  When he returned, he was forced to retire. 

My wife and I had been alternately attending early Mass every day, leaving one of us home with the children.  Progressively, the young priest opened the church later and later. Eventually, it was so late that I could not attend Mass and still get to work on time.

Over time, conditions were going from bad to worse.  We did what all families should do: draw a line in the sand which, when it is crossed, we must leave our parish and enter the catacombs.

What especially concerned us at the time (about 1967), was when the young priest would call the people up to a makeshift altar (table).  He’d be facing us and saying the Tridentine Mass.  We “had enough” and stopped going. We were the only parishioners to leave the parish for the catacombs.

However, this was certainly not the only problem we had seen. By God’s grace, we had already started to see problems before the Second Vatican Council. There were changes and frivolous excuses given for them, e.g.: Eliminate the Last Gospel and the prayers after low Mass in order to “save time for busy people, and more people will attend.” That never happened. 

Another small early change was adding St. Joseph’s name to the Canon of the Mass.  Who could object to good St. Joseph being honored in this way?  But these and similar changes put me on my guard for the flood of changes which later came out of VC II. As time went by, the changes became more and more intolerable.

When we left our parish, we were able to find a Tridentine Mass for a short time, said by an older priest at another parish across town, before he was forced to retire.  When we left that second parish for the catacombs, we had no true Mass lined up.  We trusted in God and He never let us down, although at times we had to read our Mass prayers at home.

What does it take to survive in the catacombs?  You must have a strong Faith, for the catacombs will surely test your Faith.  Many quit when the going gets tough. 

I guess they feel it’s not worth the hassle.  Some quit and use the excuse: I’m going to fight for tradition from within the VC II liberal Conciliar church. They become Catholics in name only.  I don’t know of even one person “fighting within the Conciliar church” who kept his Faith.

To survive in the catacombs, the Catholic Faith has to be your whole life and that of your family.  To be successful, a couple must be together in all things Catholic, with the husband the head and leader of the family.  Success is judged by whether you and your family are leaders helping others to retain a strong Faith, plus what steps did you take to recruit a traditional independent priest and form a traditional chapel?  Often, this required travel, many phone calls, use of your home, plus expenses, etc.

In the catacombs you must have a thick skin.  People will talk and the talk will not always be kind, to say the least.  You can’t be bothered by that.  Some will criticize you to salve their consciences for their accepting the Conciliar church.

On a personal level, standing up for the Faith meant the loss of some friendships and even the cooling or loss of some family connections. For example, one test of our Faith came in about 1969, when we were invited to a Novus Ordo First Communion within our very close extended family.  I was up most of the night deciding whether we should go and give a gift.  This was heart-rending because no one in the family had ever omitted to attend similar events and bring a gift. Well, we did not go or give a gift; (a gift shows approval).  This dropped an “atom bomb” into the relatives’ party.

As Providence would have it, some at the party woke up and joined us in the catacombs.  To recruit, leadership is required. The catacombs must have a leader, and others will follow.  There is security in numbers. However, that goes the other way also.  Many more stayed with the Novus Ordo church (est. 99%), saying “They can’t all be wrong.”  Oh yes, they can be.  And were.

About 1969 it was obvious things were not getting better, and most likely were going to get much worse.  So, we attended meetings in-state and out-of-state (in the U.S.) to try and decide what to do. 

Most in the group, including my wife and I, decided it was time to check out the condition of Catholicism in Ireland and Portugal.  We thought Ireland might retain Catholicism because it had been completely Catholic and we had heard it was minimally affected by the conciliar changes.

We thought Portugal might retain Catholicism because Our Lady of Fatima promised that “in Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved”.

Having resolved to investigate the status of Catholicism in these two countries, my wife and I entrusted our children to their grandmother and left for Europe.


It was obvious things were not getting better in America, and most likely were going to get much worse. We decided it was time to investigate to see if traditional Catholicism was any stronger in Portugal or Ireland. So, my wife and I entrusted our children to their grandmother and left for Europe.


When we arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, we were met by an American couple that had already moved there to raise their family in a traditional Catholic country. Their plan was to start an assisted-living facility for elderly Catholics. They were hoping we could join them financially and help manage the facility. We were dismayed when we saw the house in which they lived, in Fatima. It was very poor and unhealthy, to say the least!

We stayed in a convent near Fatima for a few days and tried to experience and absorb everything possible, from the very spot where our Blessed Mother appeared to the three shepherd children. Fatima itself had a wonderful Catholic atmosphere, and we felt that it was a holy place, not tainted by the commercialism that was to swallow it up later.

Thus, we inspected the land they had decided to buy. In the end, however, we had to advise them we were unable to help. It would not be a place that we could raise our children. Employment was all but impossible; we didn’t speak the language (although that particular issue could have been remedied); and the opportunity to make a living was non-existent. In the end, there were too many negatives and few positives.

The assisted living facility never did materialize, and our friends eventually returned to America.

From Portugal we flew to Ireland. In Dublin, we talked to various people and made an effort to determine to what extent the Church in Ireland had succumbed to the destructive changes of the Second Vatican Council. It was not so obvious at first, and we didn’t feel we had a whole lot of success. Eventually, however, we picked up vital clues here and there, and the indistinct picture began to get clearer.

For example, one day we were looking for a place to attend Mass and were given directions to a church that “still” had the Tridentine Mass. Well, we found it, although the church itself was in a crowded row of buildings on a main street, set flush to the busy thoroughfare. The Mass seemed to be a good Latin Mass, but at Communion the priest attempted to place the Host in our hands, and we were so surprised we almost accepted it!

As Providence would have it, we got another important clue from an unexpected source. We went to a very crowded restaurant and were invited to sit in a booth with two young Catholic teachers. These young women were very enthused to explain all the “wonderful” changes that were taking place in their Catholic school and elsewhere, and how helpful the bishop and pastors were who were doing their best to implement all the changes. We thanked them for being so candid and so helpful in our understanding of the state of the conciliar “Catholic” church in Ireland. I’m sure they did not realize how disappointed we were to get their information.

We flew back to the U.S. with our mission accomplished, albeit with sad hearts to conclude there is no safe, untainted place in the world to raise a Catholic family. We would have to do the best we could from within the catacombs.

Once home, we got to work planning: 1) the children’s education; 2) where we could still go to Mass; 3) how to start a Catholic group to help others keep their traditional Faith.

The first thing we did was to invite our new pastor from our parish—the former pastor had been forced to retire—to determine to what degree he would promote the VC II changes. Well, we found out quickly he had no control over the school or what catechism the sisters in charge would use. He also planned to implement all changes the bishop wanted. So, our decision to remove our children from his school was an easy one to make.

We then contacted the Catholic schools in the area and asked what catechisms they use. We managed to find one school that used a pre-VC II catechism, and further, they agreed to allow our children to refrain from attending the Novus Ordo mass before school. (Although the pastor liked to point out to us from time to time that we wouldn’t have to pay full tuition if we became members of the parish and let our children attend mass there.)

The pastor was somewhat independent-minded himself and removed the school from the diocesan school system. He made it an independent community school in order to avoid the bishop’s directives. And it was this action that got our children through grade school.

However, honesty compels me to acknowledge that finding a Mass to go to was always a problem. But the good Lord provided, even if it meant traveling protracted distances in all kinds of weather. Very often we picked up elderly religious sisters and other families. At one time we had as many as 13 people in our station wagon. (This was before vans became common.)

In the eight years before we established our own chapel, we always had our “ear to the ground”, so to speak, and we did a lot of driving. We seemed to be constantly on the phone with the members of our group trying to determine where there would be a Mass, at what time, and what were the directions to its location. We depended on a “phone tree” to help us get through those early years. I estimate we attended Mass in at least a dozen different places: churches, hotels, a dance hall, homes, a motel, civic clubs, etc., etc., in two different states.

Our goal was to have our own chapel. This was accomplished in Period Three, 1977-1988.


We found that raising our family in Europe was not an option. We would have to make do in the catacombs of America. We found an acceptable Catholic school for our children. What we didn’t have was a reliable place to attend the Tridentine Mass and the Sacraments.


Since the beginning of the crisis, it was always our goal to have our own chapel with a traditional priest. We were members of an informal group of 15 like-minded Catholics, all having agreed to search for a good priest. Not an easy job. It became obvious that a priest could not say a traditional Mass in his homestate or diocese as his bishop would not allow it and would withhold his pension. Our search had to be out-of-state.
With the help of Our Blessed Mother we located a good Irish priest in the next state who was willing to drive an estimated 150-mile (240 km) round trip each Sunday and Holy day. Now we needed a chapel.
The Blessed Mother came through again and we found a small “abandoned” Catholic church with reasonable rent. The group met in our backyard on a beautiful summer day, and we named our chapel after the Blessed Mother in gratitude for all her help. An old retired gentleman volunteered to be the coordinator.
I’m sure it would surprise some of you to learn all the things and equipment it takes to put a chapel together. I know I was. We had already obtained some things over the years because at that time the Conciliar churches were closing (or just getting rid of unwanted traditional Catholic things). Our group acquired statues, a main altar, Roman missal, etc.
My wife and I went to a secondhand store in a large city out-of-state that specialized in discarded traditional Catholic furnishings. We were very surprised at the volume of discarded vestments and gold altar items. There was a room full of vestments stacked four feet high, shelves full of Catholic treasures. How really sad it was to see the disrespect shown to sacred things.
Our group provided a choir director, choir members, cleaning people, snow-shovelers, etc. The owner cut the grass and maintained the chapel building.
After our chapel was established in 1977 the local bishop got wind of it and was quick to admonish us that all Masses and Sacraments in our chapel were invalid, and that our Sunday obligation would not be satisfied. We considered his warning as a badge of honor.
Oh, what a great and glorious Sunday it was when we had the first Tridentine Mass in our own chapel! It wasn’t long before we had baptisms and weddings in our chapel. A big day for me was to serve Mass with my 10-year-old grandson. Passing on the traditional Catholic Faith.
My wife and I tried to fill in with traditional Catholic activities to strengthen the faith of those in the catacombs with us. I built a 100-foot rosary (30,5 m), with each Hail Mary “bead” a 2" x 2" (51 mm ✕ 51 mm) wooden block, with each Our Father “bead” a 4" x 4" (102 mm ✕ 102 mm) wooden block. We used it in our backyard. Each bead was held by a separate person who recited the prayer at the appropriate time. On each occasion, we set up a small altar to the Blessed Mother, sang Catholic hymns, and recited the rosary. Our neighbors, one non-Catholic and one Novus Ordo, were surprised, and I'm sure puzzled, as to why anyone would want to do that.
About this time, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, I’m certain, we were able to have a very holy traditional priest from the LaSalette religious order give our group a much-needed retreat. He was able to come three years in a row, until his superiors refused to allow him to leave the community. They wanted him to give retreats promoting Vatican II, which he refused.
Besides their spiritual development, another huge concern of Catholic parents in the catacombs was (and is) seeing that the children get a good Catholic education. Before the catacombs, of course, Catholic parents could confidently send their grade-schoolers off to the nearest Catholic school and depend on their receiving a solid, Catholic education. Unfortunately, that day was long gone.
Conciliar “Catholic” schools and public schools were out of the question because of immodest dress, violence, sex education, drug education, and above all, religious education based on the evils of Vatican II. (N-SSPX schools are now a bad choice too, but that will be the subject of a future article on education.)
So, for many families, their only option was home schooling. (Home schooling will be the subject of an upcoming article.)
In the “catacombs” higher education was always an important matter and the subject of an ongoing discussion. We did not consider public and conciliar “Catholic” schools, for obvious reasons. Cost and distance were not the deciding factors either. The school itself had to be precisely the right one. The children’s happiness and salvation depended on it.
The Blessed Mother intervened again, with a private high school only 40 miles (64 km) away. Nine years of carpooling until the youngest graduated resulted in over 300,000 miles (500 000 km) traveled. It was well-worth the time and cost for well-adjusted, thriving young adults.
When our oldest daughter was a junior in high school, I started to search nationally for an acceptable college. It took about a year, with many, many phone calls and some visits to convince me which college was right.
I would “interrogate” the deans of the colleges to determine if political correctness permeated the leadership. I would start with questions on the following points:
  1. Do you have a dress code?
  2. Are all of your dorms single-sex?
  3. Do you have strict rules regarding drug and alcohol use?
I eventually discussed books and curriculum with only two colleges because the answers to those three initial questions disqualified the other schools.
It is also important to realize high school graduates do not have the knowledge, wisdom, or experience to select the correct college that will determine their success in life, and more importantly, their salvation. That is a job of their parents.
The college was thousands of miles away, but that’s what it took to find the right one. It was well-worth avoiding the usual problems of young adults. All of this effort was in pursuit of nourishing the faith of the children and getting them a solid Catholic education.
But what of the older “children” (in their late teens and early twenties)? With the futures of our traditional Catholic young people in mind, my wife and I developed a way for them to “meet” through the mail.
We placed an advertisement in a traditional Catholic newspaper, set up a post office box, and established a list of interested traditional Catholic singles to distribute. I believe we were responsible for a modest number of marriages, with three of the couples notifying us of their good news by sending us wedding pictures.
We traveled to Michigan to have our children confirmed by Archbishop Lefebvre. We were fortunate to be able to take advantage of this rare opportunity.
Over time, the chapel grew in attendance as the word spread. There were two newspaper articles on our chapel because it was of interest to the community. With God’s blessings, all went well for some time. But all good things must end.


We established our chapel in an “abandoned” Catholic church, with a traditional Catholic priest willing to travel 150 miles round trip each Sunday and holy day. Attendance increased as the word spread. We were able to fulfill the needs of

families with weddings and baptisms. God surely showered His blessings on our chapel.


Those attending our traditional Catholic chapel could live a Catholic life, strengthen their faith, and pass it on to the next generation. What a glorious gift from God! The chapel was always decorated to celebrate all the major feasts. The choir rehearsed weekly in preparation for Sunday Mass, special feasts, First Communions, and weddings, and oh yes, funerals. It was wonderful to practice our Faith together, without compromise, and watch the second generation grow in their knowledge and love of their traditional Catholic Faith.

Some families agreed together that if both parents in one family were killed, that the other family would raise the children as traditional Catholics, and keep them from the evils of the conciliar church that their close relatives attended.

Our Irish pastor led our chapel for 20 years or so. He worked very hard, giving inspirational sermons every Sunday and holy day, with appropriate services for Lent and Advent. We were indeed blessed!

Time and hard work took its toll on the good pastor and he was unable to continue after 2002. We tried to carry on with other retired priests, but without success.

In the catacombs there was always a problem of phony priests and questionable bishops. I assume some of it was unscrupulous men preying on desperate traditional Catholics looking for a Tridentine Mass priest and willing to pay generously.

One I remember was finally exposed as a Baptist minister. He never tried to be accepted at our chapel, but at others. Then there was a bogus “priest” in a northern chapel who was eventually discovered because he had to read all the rubrics to be sure he knew what to do next.

There were also questions about newly-consecrated bishops and the priests they would ordain. This problem was caused by a Vietnamese bishop named Pierre Martin Ngô Đình Thuc, who was rumored to be senile and under the control of an unscrupulous priest. We always had to be on guard against the Thuc-line of ordained priests.

We continually checked on the “pedigree” of a priest that we counted on for the Sacraments. This of course included the priests ordained after the Second Vatican Council by the conciliar “Catholic” church, because there is a real doubt concerning the validity of their ordinations.

For an explanation why conciliar ordination and consecration are always doubtful and so must be treated as invalid, read these Catholic Candle articles:

The SSPX could not provide a priest for us as they already had a chapel 35 miles (56 km) away. So we had to close our chapel and drive to the SSPX church each Sunday and holy day.

During the time we spent at an SSPX chapel, we could not relax our guard. Not so much in the beginning, but eventually we had to check on any visiting priest they sent to say Mass. The question was always “Who ordained him?”. If it was the doubtful ordination of Vatican II and the conciliar church, we stayed away from his Mass and any Hosts he “consecrated.” We stayed home on those Sundays and read our Mass prayers, or made the extra-long drive to a chapel in a neighboring state. We had to be on our guard even for the advice given by any SSPX priest leaning liberal. For example, some SSPX priests would instruct college-age students that it was okay to attend an indult Mass (something Archbishop Lefebvre was totally against).

In the catacombs of the earliest Church, and now to keep a strong faith, you can never let your guard down.

We stayed with the N-SSPX until they crossed our line in the sand by allowing the false conciliar church to have a role in their Confessions and Marriages. Accepting oversight from the conciliar church was totally unnecessary because—as Archbishop Lefebvre strongly maintained—the Society of St. Pius X has always had the authority to dispense all of the Sacraments, based on the grave crisis in the Church. Thus, the N-SSPX’s consent to modernist Rome’s demand to “oversee” their confessions and marriages is a solid foot-in-the-door for the conciliar church.

This disastrous accommodation with Rome prompted us to leave the parish and to join the Resistance. In this case, with a small group in the next state which, unfortunately, over time took the wrong path under Bishop Williamson, requiring the establishment of another resistance movement, which is also under attack and breaking apart. The devil just can’t tolerate a Catholic movement not under his control. The Real Resistance, to which we now belong, has a priest, Father Raphael, from Mexico. But no bishop. Which the good Lord will provide in the future in His own good time, I’m sure.

The catacombs of today are besieged just as the first century catacombs were. When you practice the true Faith the devil will attack, and attack without mercy. But you can be certain all is under God’s control, and we will be successful.

It has been over 50 years now in the catacombs, and I have experienced the good and the bad. I really feel sorry for anybody under the age of 50 because they have probably missed so much of the glorious and beautiful music and ceremonies of the traditional Catholic Faith.

The Catholic Faith is my whole life, and that of my wife. So when I say I really miss all the beautiful hymns and the magnificent High Masses and the exquisite ceremonies, you know it’s from the heart.

As I write this, I can’t help but get emotional thinking about all the soul-stirring music and rituals gone since Vatican II; I have to stop and compose myself. Oh, what the younger generations have missed! It was the goal of the devil to destroy the Church with clown masses and guitar masses and the evils of the Second Vatican Council. His efforts to obliterate the beauty and spirituality of the Catholic Faith undoubtedly took the faith from 99% of the slumbering Catholics.

Catholic Candle note: This is the conclusion of the series, Living in the Catacombs for Fifty-Plus Years, With No End in Sight. Let us follow the example of those who have fought the Good Fight, from Vatican II onward, and who still have the Traditional Catholic Faith! You are next up, to help lead the fight! Don‘t fail us! We’re counting on you!