The roots of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish were formed by Czechoslovakian and Hungarian coal miners and their families who came from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to plant vineyards and make wine under the auspices of a Catholic priest and a land developer, the first 200 in 1893, the second 200 shortly thereafter. They came into Haralson County, where there had been no Catholics, and planted their first vines in a new community called Budapest. Three years later and three miles to the north at Nitra, a home for the priest and a church were built. (ln the first town in Georgia in which the only church was a Catholic Church.)
However, in 1907, twelve years ahead of the national Volstead (prohibition) Act, Georgia passed a State Prohibition Act, the community of Budapest-Nitre’s Tokay industry fell into ruins, and many of the original families were dispersed. Thereafter, the church burned and the priest’s house was sold. The nearest Catholic churches then were in Atlanta, sixty miles east, or Rome, forty miles north, over dirt roads, and reachable only by wagon . But the: remaining Hungarian Catholics were saved the long trip by missionaries who came from Atlanta or Rome once a month, first to Budapest, then for a short time to Bremen, then to Budapest again to sap Mass for them. By 1952 the missionaries were coming to Carrollton where there was a growing Catholic population who were joined by the Haralson County remainder.
In that year the Episcopal congregation of Carrollton, having outgrown their pretty little frame church, offered it for sale. (This is the church, built in 1894, which is now on the University of West Georgia campus and is known as Kennedy Chapel.)
Inspired by Father Charles E Duke, S .M. from St. Joseph’s parish in Marietta, the latest of the faithful missionaries, the Catholic congregation of northern imports, a few native Georgia Catholics, and the children of the Budapest Catholics got to work to raise the scary sum of $8,500 the Episcopalians were asking. The ladies first Nearly-New Sale was also the first big financial success; the men solicited local businesses and raised $500; the Catholic Church Extension Society contributed a generous gift. With the blessing of Most Rev. Francis E. Hyland of Savannah, the small congregation could take on a mortgage.
The Episcopal Church of St. Margaret of Scotland became the Catholic Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, to which Father Duke journeyed to celebrate Mass and other devotions. The church was gradually furnished with an altar, statues of the Blessed Virgin and the Sacred Heart, a Communion rail, a Confessional, and an organ sent over from Cedartown (for which the church was later billed and which was cheerfully paid for). Next a concrete block parish hall was built next to the church where meetings, social events, religious instructions, and the Nearly-New Sales could be held.
Then in December 1958, the congregation began to think about building a new, larger church. Offered land by Eaton and Susan Hayward Chalkley on Old Center Point Road, the Chancery greatly appreciated the offer because the location, directly across the road from the Chalkley ranch, was near the projected I-20 highway and also in a central location for the parishioners in Carroll and Haralson counties.
Again, everyone had to pitch in; the ladies and men raised money, the men helped the builders, and out very ambitiously-sized church (for a congregation of fewer than fifty families) took shape. On March 25, 1962 the new church was dedicated.
Finally, in June 1965, Our Lady of Perpetual Help PARISH was officially founded. Father Richard B. Morrow, first pastor, had led the way brilliantly through all the preliminary planning and actual construction. A fine rectory and parish cemetery followed.
The Carrollton mission of less than a dozen families has grown into a parish in excess of 1400 families. Currently the descendents of the first Hungarian and Czechoslovakian Catholics join their brother and sister parishioners in one of the most beautiful rural Catholic Churches and parish settings in the State.