Parish History

    Saint Helen Catholic Church

Four women, converts to Catholicism, spearheaded the interest in a church for Glasgow in 1893. From 1878 priests had been visiting the Glasgow mission station monthly to say Mass in private homes, and one resided briefly. These four women and others gathered stones from local fields and brought them by horse and cart to the small town. The community, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, together constructed St. Helen Church with the fieldstones. One generous donor, the Duke of Norfolk, is remembered by a stained-glass window which bears his name.

After years as a mission of Bowling Green in Russellville, and then of the Cathedral, Glasgow welcomed Father Joseph L. Wheatley’s move to the town in 1947. He bought a house to serve as a rectory in 1950, and near Horse Cave, Kentucky, he built Our Lady of the Caves Mission Church, which was blessed in 1954. The Fathers of Mercy came to Glasgow in 1959 and continue to serve. With resident pastors, St. Helen became a parish.

The parish has grown gradually to over 1,000 parishioners, but the Catholic population in Glasgow is still less than one percent. Two Sunday Masses are celebrated in Spanish. A catechetical program, adult Bible study and religious education nourish the faith among parishioners. The parish center, built in 1990, houses these programs.

St. Helen continues to spread the faith in Glasgow through pro-life activities, visiting the sick and the food pantry program. The Knights of Columbus aid the community through the Tootsie Roll drive and Christmas food baskets for the poor. The Auxiliary of Our Lady provides Christmas gifts to needy children. The parish family is strengthened through daily Mass and regular Confessions, as well as devotions such as Eucharistic Adoration. 

Our Lady of the Caves Catholic Church

Father Joseph L. Wheatley was assigned as pastor of St. Helen in Glasgow in 1937. After commuting from Louisville for ten years, he was able to establish a residence in Glasgow, becoming the first resident pastor in more than forty years. Father Wheatley also served the chapel at Mammoth Cave National Park.

In 1951 Thomas Edward Aubrey of Louisville donated funds to establish a small church in an underserved area of the diocese. Archbishop John A. Floersh asked Father Wheatley for suggestions on how to use this gift, and Father Wheatley identified the need for a mission or chapel at Horse Cave in Hart County. At that time there were eleven Catholic families in Horse Cave, and Father Wheatley anticipated that the number might grow. He also pointed out that having a mission church in the area would relieve the congestion at the Mammoth Cave Chapel during the tourist season.

The project was approved, and Father Wheatley built a mission church on Highway 31 about one-half mile from Horse Cave, Kentucky. The church was blessed in October 1954 by Archbishop Floersh and placed under the patronage of Our Lady of the Caves.

Today those eleven families have grown to 75 families and 250 parishioners. Our Lady of the Caves remains a mission of St. Helen in Glasgow under the leadership of the Fathers of Mercy.

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