At the final banquet at the historic Yorktowne Hotel, the strains of the hymn of Saint Joan of Arc penetrated the silence of the listening crowd. Its majestic yet tragic melody seemed to reflect the themes of a memorable weekend event which took place under the terrible shadow of a world that has not heeded Our Lady of Fatima’s message. However, it also commemorated the hope awakened by the memory of a Catholic man whose thought and action projects itself into the future.
Such was the tone of the setting where nearly 200 supporters, friends and members of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) gathered on October 24-26 in Spring Grove, Penn. to commemorate the centennial of the birth of the founder of the Brazilian TFP and discuss the theme, “Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira: His Thought and Its Projection into the Future.”
The American TFP was especially honored to welcome Prince Bertrand of Orleans-Braganza, who delivered the Sunday luncheon address stressing the theme of Catholic activism.
The TFP was also pleased to have present many Rosary Captains from the nearly 3,500 Public Square Rosary Rallies held on October 11 which united almost 120,000 Catholics nationwide. The rallies sought to beseech God to save America in light of the political, financial and religious crises now threatening the nation. Michael Drake, TFP Director of Catholic Outreach, reminded participants at another luncheon address that they had an obligation to celebrate the milestone of so many rallies.
A Different Tone
This year’s conference was different from those of the past. Something of the urgency of the several crises was in the air. Something of the promise of Divine assistance also made itself felt in the example of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira that was especially patent in an audiovisual tribute.
Indeed, indicative of the times was the fact that some TFP members were absent from the event because they were off in the battlefield of the Cultural War. A TFP caravan of young volunteers was campaigning in the streets of Florida in favor of traditional marriage. One highlight of the conference was a presentation showing the support and opposition to a similar TFP campaign in California and Arizona in September and early October. Participants were impressed by accounts of these campaigns where they heard of the overwhelming public rejection of same-sex “marriage,” and the rabid intolerance of those defending the homosexual agenda – much of which was captured in very expressive videos.
Assistant Web Editor Michael Whitcraft developed a talk on the chastisement foreseen by Our Lady at Fatima for unrepentant mankind. He stressed the reasonableness of such a punishment in light of the hardness of heart of so many and a world that has failed to convert in light of so many opportunities and warnings.
A Sublime Future
American TFP Vice-President John Horvat delivered a talk on why the thought of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira has a future. He especially discussed how the TFP founder was able to find unifying principles around which conservatives could rally. He stressed the incredible fecundity and flexibility of his thought that allowed conservatives to “improvise and dare” in face of changing circumstances.
Mr. Norman Fulkerson presented yet another aspect of the thought of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira by speaking on “The Sublime: Beauty Proportional to God.” He focused on how the modern world destroys the sublime aspects of the Church and Christian civilization and the obligations of today’s Catholic to defend this most essential part of the Faith.
Mr. Luis Solimeo, senior TFP researcher, gave an excellent presentation on the relationship between the Counter-revolution and the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He stressed the symbolic meaning of the heart and what the future triumph of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary would mean.
A Rallying Point
A lively presentation of the mission of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira was given by Mr. Mario Navarro da Costa, director of the TFP Washington Bureau. He explained how this mission is reflected in the TFP, especially in its emphasis on temporal society. Mr. Luiz Antonio Fragelli, TFP director, gave the closing remarks where he summed up the weekend event and inspired participants to put the meetings they had heard to good use.
Every TFP conference is different and brings its own graces. One really has to be there since no description can adequately convey what takes place. This is because a TFP event is always more than just talks. It is an opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones. The conference provides an energizing point to rally together for a brief respite before heading back out into the peaceful and legal battles that await.
It is also refreshing to see the future represented in the students from the TFP-run St. Louis de Montfort Academy and members of TFP Student Action who were everywhere helping to make sure things ran smoothly.
Final Mass and Banquet
The key to the whole Counter-revolutionary struggle is a life based on sanctity and love of God. Thus, it was fitting to end the weekend with a Latin Mass sung by the TFP members, wearing the TFP ceremonial habit. At the historic Immaculate Conception Church in nearby York., Father Gregory Karpyn celebrated the Mass and delivered the sermon. The recessional procession ended with the now-traditional majestic rendition of the Papal Hymn.
In the subdued atmosphere of the grand ballroom of the Yorktowne Hotel, participants celebrated and listened as TFP member Philip Calder played the stirring hymn of Saint Joan of Arc. And in the interior of many souls came the conviction, not unlike that of the great saint, that the voice of grace that promised so much during the conference did not lie.