It was supposed to be a “normal” TFP National Conference with a roster of speakers and other events packed into the last weekend of October. However, it was anything but a “normal” weekend for the nearly 250 TFP members, supporters and friends who gathered at the TFP’s national headquarters in Spring Grove, Penn. this year.
As TFP friends and supporters arrived for the Friday night brick-oven pizza dinner reports of a turn of the weather began to circulate. As soon as most of the participants had safely arrived, the weather did change and the autumn leaves which usually provide a pleasing backdrop to the conference were soon covered with five inches of snow.
The snow storm was somehow fitting for the national conference which had as its theme: “The Fight for Tradition, Family and Property: Where Do We Go From Here?” From the very beginning, there was nothing ordinary about this event. All sorts of obstacles and fights had to be overcome by both organizers and those attending.
However, inside the warmth of the TFP facility and the heated banquet hall/tent, these efforts were rewarded by a marvelous winter wonderland outside, which keynote speaker Prince Bertrand of Orleans-Braganza called “a smile of Our Lady upon us all.”
Indeed the entire event was under Our Lady’s maternal gaze as all sensed the graces and determination to carry on the Counter-revolutionary struggle so that she might reign as queen. It was also fitting that Sunday was the feast of Christ the King, since everyone also desired that Christ reign as king. In fact, the solemn High Mass celebrated by Father Jonathan Romanoski, began with the musical acclamation of “Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat!” (Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ rules over all!)
Fighting for Our Culture
The idea of this fight set the tone for the entire conference. All the talks centered on the need for Catholics to unite and fight against the cultural assault upon what remains of Christian civilization. TFP Vice President John Horvat defined the fight by contrasting the individualist mentality that destroys tradition, family and property with the Catholic mentality that promotes these three values. Mr. Michael Whitcraft masterly outlined the reasons why Catholics must fight in addition to praying. Mr. Luis Solimeo spoke of the need for a “crusader spirit” in face of the Islamist threat.
TFP Washington Bureau director Mario Navarro da Costa spoke on “Fatima: Leadership in Times of Upheaval” which was an historical perspective on how leadership might arise in the present-day crisis. Mr. Gustavo Solimeo also presented historic insights in his talk: “If We Fight, God Will Provide the Victory.” Mr. Norman Fulkerson took a more philosophical approach by showing how true happiness can be found in the Counter-revolutionary struggle.
Mr. Ruben Quezada of St. Joseph Communications and the Catholic Resource Center gave a concrete example of Catholic militancy with his presentation on the Cristero movement in Mexico in the twenties. His slide presentation on the persecution of the Church and the Mexican reaction helped show how the Church is attacked and why it must be defended.
A Call to Activism
Finally, practical examples of how Catholics might react were presented. TFP member Michael Chad Shibler invited participants to engage in the fight in favor of traditional marriage in their own communities. America Needs Fatima director Robert Ritchie issued a call to activism in face of the rash of what he called blasphemy terrorism. In addition to blasphemous movies, plays and “art,” Mr. Ritchie also listed the horrific defacing and smashing of Catholic statues and other sacrileges that is becoming increasingly more frequent.
The conference took place after the October 15 public square rosary rallies that were held in 7,515 locations throughout the country. The TFP Supporter network played a vital role in this effort and the conference served as an occasion to speak of further actions especially in defense of traditional marriage.
Between talks and during meals, participants had plenty of opportunities to converse and get acquainted. Every TFP conference is different and brings its own graces. This year, many commented upon the theme of the fight for our culture as the principle point of unity. The conference provided an energizing point to rally together for a brief respite before heading back out into the peaceful and legal battles that await.
The Sunday evening candlelight Rosary procession was especially touching as the American TFP’s life-size replica of Seville’s Our Lady of Hope, Macarena was carried on a large litter by strong supporters to reign majestically over all. As usual, the Rosary was led by TFP members wearing the TFP ceremonial habit.
The weekend ended inside the large medieval-style tent where all sat down together for the final medieval banquet. At the end of dinner, Prince Bertrand gave the keynote address speaking on “What Our Lady Wants.” He stressed that Our Lady wants that Christ reign once again. Using the example of the Catholic leadership of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, he exhorted participants to continue their efforts confiding in the promise of victory at Fatima. Despite the inconveniences of the snow and cold weather, the weekend was indeed a smile of Our Lady who covered all with her pure white mantle. The final farewell lingered long into the night as all gave thanks to Christ the King and the Blessed Mother for a weekend full of blessings.