Let Us Introduce Ourselves
My name is Hale Wilson and I and my wife own and care for St. Mary Guesthouse and St. Francis Guest Suite, and my son Michael owns St. Benedict Guesthouse and St. Vincent Guest Suite. We invite you to stay in one of our peaceful lodging choices near the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament so that you may more fully enjoy your pilgrimage to the Shrine.
An Answered Prayer
A simple prayer answered by God, is what started us on our journey to become a part of the story of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, my prayer was “to do something beautiful for God”.
Meeting Mother Angelica
It really all began over 25 years ago when we first met Mother Angelica through my brother-in-law’s niece, Sister Agnes, who is one of the Poor Clare Nuns. We traveled to EWTN in Birmingham from Louisiana where we lived, and were part of the audience during a taping of one of Mother’s TV episodes.
God Brought Us Together
About 6 years later, we decided to go into poultry farming and began looking for a farm in Alabama or Mississippi. When we learned that Cullman County Alabama was the largest poultry producing county in the state, and that there were many farms available there, we were elated. We felt as though we were being brought nearer Mother Angelica and EWTN, which is only about an hour’s drive from Hanceville.
A Place For The Temple
One day I got the idea to build a bed & breakfast near EWTN, to house pilgrims in a comfortable, farm setting, but God had other plans for me. When I spoke to Mother Angelica about my plans, she told me to wait. I got word shortly thereafter that the nuns were looking for land to build a Shrine. They were looking at land south of Birmingham, as Mother Angelica wanted to build no more than 30 miles from EWTN, but we began to pray and search for land in the Cullman area. Several pieces of land were considered, and it looked as though Mother Angelica had settled on a 480 acre spot in Shelby County, south of Birmingham. However, the owners could not agree on a price and Mother told me that we would not wait around on them to make up their minds.
Along with an area realtor, Barbara Dunn, we kept our eyes open and our prayers going for land near Hanceville. That’s when we found this wonderful 200 acres, just west of Hanceville, nearly completely surrounded by a river. With just one way in and out, it would mean that the Shrine would be in solitude, without the prospect of anything else being built nearby.
When the Shrine was nearing completion in the year 2000, we built the first guesthouse at the entrance to the Shrine, St Michael Guesthouse. Mother Angelica urged us to finish it because the artisans from Madrid, Spain who were coming to do the gold-work in the Lower Church and needed housing for nearly two months while they completed their work. We finished it the day before they got there, and when they left, we got a souvenir in the form of gold left over from their work that my daughter found in one of the closets!
…I Will Help Those Who Help You
When the child Jesus spoke to Mother Angelica, he told her, “Build me a temple, and I will help those who help you”. We certainly feel like the promise has been kept, by the many blessing God has poured out on us in the form of visitors to our guesthouses.
Each week we find ourselves blessed to be able to talk with and be a small part in the lives of so many pilgrims to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament who have had life-changing experiences and insights while growing closer to our Lord.