A TFP National Conference is always an exciting event but this year’s gathering had a touch of the dramatic. On the opening day, the pleasant autumn weather took a turn for the worse when a storm swept over the area. The outdoor tent where the talks were delivered was buffeted by wind and rain. It was still raining less than an hour from the scheduled Saturday evening candlelight rosary procession. However as the time approached, the rain stopped and the procession went as planned. The next day, the sun came out providing a perfect atmosphere to conclude a long weekend of reflection.The dramatic events seemed a fitting picture of the trials and efforts of all those engaged in the struggle to defend Christian civilization in the public square. So often, these actions are buffeted by adversity, and yet afterwards Our Lady smiles upon these sacrifices and rewards them with special graces.
Such conclusions were present in the minds of the over 200 supporters, friends and members of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) who gathered on October 24-25 in Spring Grove, Penn. to discuss the theme “Human Solutions Have Failed: The Fatima Moment Has Arrived.”Among the distinguished guest-speakers at the conference was Prince Bertrand of Orleans-Braganza of the Brazilian TFP, who delivered the Sunday closing banquet about the certainty of victory. The American TFP was also pleased to have Duke Paul of Oldenberg of the German TFP who spoke about devotion to Our Lady. The presence of the two illustrious speakers was a great pleasure and inspiration for all. The recently published book on the life of Col. John Ripley.
Rallies and an American Knight
The Conference was held in an atmosphere of celebration for the 4,337 Public Square Rosary Rallies nationwide on October 10, 2009. America Needs Fatima Director Robert Ritchie delivered a moving account of the rallies in all the phases of planning and execution. He reminded the participants that the celebration of this milestone could only be properly observed in view of the incredible obstacles faced by those who organized the rallies and the enormous graces that Our Lady gave to overcome them.Yet another highlight of this year’s conference was the launching of the book, An American Knight, The Life of Col. John W. Ripley USMC by TFP member Norman Fulkerson. Mr. Fulkerson recounted the story of how he came to write the biography of this true American hero. Col. Ripley was a Marine who had defended the country nobly on the military as well as the cultural battlefield when he opposed women in combat and homosexuals in the military.The captivating story of this American hero is told from cradle to grave. His recent death signaled the need not to let the feats of this outstanding Marine go untold. Mr. Fulkerson also said he wrote this book for all those capable of admiring the role models so conspicuously absent in these days.
Talks on the Fatima Moment
All the talks were based from the perspective of the book Revolution and Counter-Revolution by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, founder of the Brazilian TFP.
TFP members in ceremonial habit carrying the statue of Our Lady of Fatima in a candle light rosary procession.There was truly a wide variety of timely topics.
Mr. Mario Navarro da Costa presented a talk on how the world arrived to the Fatima moment with a fascinating historical overview of events leading up to Our Lady’s appearance at Fatima. American TFP Vice-President John Horvat delivered the talk, “What is the Counter-Revolutionary Alternative to the Global Financial Crisis?” Luiz Solimeo, senior researcher for the American TFP, presented a know-your-enemy talk on the subject of the objectives and intervention of the devil. Mr. Michael Whitcraft discussed the necessity of dealing with suffering in these times.
Despite the winds and rains, the speakers and participants studied together these important themes as a preparation for the stormy days ahead. Helping this study was TFP member Michael Chad Shibler who presented an overview of the activities of the TFP members and supporters since last conference.
A meeting about Our Lady given by Duke Paul of Oldenburg from the German TFP.Sparking Interest in the Counter-Revolution
Our Lady’s blessings upon the event were quite evident by the great conviviality that existed among participants. The conference was an occasion for friends to get together and compare notes. Even those who were attending for the first time felt part of a great family of souls. The fact that many new rally captains attended the conference was also a source of much encouragement to all.
So much of the conference is made up of those little things that provide an atmosphere that reflects the principles being defended. Thus the decoration, flowers and conversation areas were also considered an important part of the conference. There were events like an organ concert and a singing of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There was time for coffee breaks and discussions. Students from the TFP-staffed St. Louis de Montfort Academy were politely helping out everywhere making sure things ran smoothly.
Mass celebrated by Father Gregory Karpyn, at the historic Immaculate Conception Church in nearby York.Of course, there was the magnificent 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 with organ and trumpet.
The weekend ended much different than it had begun. Gone were the buffeting winds and rain. Inside the calm grand ballroom of the nearby historic Yorktowne Hotel, participants sat down together for the final dinner. Prince Bertrand addressed the Conference participants exhorting them to continue their efforts confiding in the promise of victory at Fatima. As the final farewells faded into the night, all gave thanks to Our Lady for a wonderful weekend despite the tempests that had seemed so threatening.