The church is perfect UNTIL you put people in it. We are all ‘under construction’ and need to grow daily in our conversion to God by letting Him continue His work in us each day.”Fr. Joseph M. Wolfe, Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament
HANCEVILLE — The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery, informally known as OLAM Shrine, is a prominent Roman Catholic Latin Rite shrine located in Hanceville. Adjoining the Shrine is the cloistered Monastery of Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration. The Shrine is situated on a beautiful 400-acre site and has a religious center affiliated with the Eternal Word Television Network, EWTN, in Birmingham.
Fr. Joseph M. Wolfe is one of the many people who call the Shrine their home. He is currently one of the Shrine’s chaplains and enjoys being the instrument of the Lord’s healing. Hearing about lives that have changed for the better through people’s encounter with Jesus Christ through the Shrine’s ministries is considered a special honor to the priest. He’s down to earth and very kind — just like the rest of the religious affiliated with Mother Angelica.
“I grew up on a dairy farm in Eastern Iowa and was taught by Franciscan nuns the first eight years of grade school,” Wolfe began.
“Eventually, I obtained a degree in Electronic Engineering and worked for General Electric Medical Systems installing and repairing CAT scanners and X-Ray equipment in hospitals in Eastern Iowa."
“After coming across the Eternal Word Television Network (founded by Mother Angelica in Irondale, Ala. in 1981) and becoming a regular viewer, I heard her make an appeal for engineering help for the fledgling network,” he grinned.
“I moved there in January of 1985 and worked as an engineer for two years. In 1987, she founded the community of men that I belong to: the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word. We live a common life (like the apostles with Jesus) praying together, sharing meals together, recreating together and do our common work of evangelizing using the modern means of communication: ewtn.com.”
Sometimes God’s calling starts early in life, other times He calls much later. Either way, Wolfe heard his calling to become a priest loud and clear.
“At first, I had no intention of becoming a priest but planned to live my religious life as a brother doing engineering for EWTN,” he explained.
“Others, however, said they saw a vocation to the priesthood in me. The Lord confirmed this one evening as I was praying with the Scriptures. I read in Luke 22:19: ‘This is my body to be given for you. Do this as a remembrance of me.’ I also remembered from time to time a prophecy made to me years before when I was just beginning to serve the Lord. From Jeremiah 15:19: ‘If you bring forth the precious without the vile, you shall be my mouthpiece.’ And so, I entered seminary, studied in Rome for a time, and was ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ in 1993.”
Priests and pastors are generally very busy people and Wolfe is no different — except people all over the world get to hear him evangelize.
“I have regularly preached our daily televised Mass at EWTN which is broadcast to 250 million homes throughout the world,” he smiled warmly.
“It is a great responsibility and a great privilege. I am presently assigned to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville. I also have a television series on EWTN which tells the stories of lay Catholic men and women who are spreading the Kingdom of God through evangelization and/or charity. It is titled: The Church Universal.”
Like other professions, being a priest in a Catholic Church has its challenges.
“The church is perfect UNTIL you put people in it,” he chuckled. “We are all ‘under construction’ and need to grow daily in our conversion to God by letting Him continue His work in us each day,” he grinned.
“We do this by opening the door to His gentle knock (Rev. 3:20) through prayer and the Sacraments, whereby He touches us through this physical means. We are all sinners who are deeply loved by Our Savior, Jesus Christ, Who is the Divine Physician. He continues His beautiful work in our souls, making them reflect, more and more, His likeness.”
Hanceville's Shrine is one of Cullman County's many treasures.
“The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament is a remarkably beautiful church, monastery and much more. It was built in the 13th-century style architecture. It is a beautiful place to pray. We welcome people of all faiths to come and visit and to enjoy the beauty and peace,” he said.
“All beauty comes from God, who IS beauty, and so the Shrine gives people a little peek into the beauty of Heaven.”
The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament is located at 3222 County Road 548, Hanceville, AL 35077. For more information visit olamshrine.com, call 205-795-5717 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/shrinepilgrimages.