With deep sadness, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property (TFP) mourns the passing of Antonio Fragelli on December 19, 2021. He will be greatly missed. His Catholic sense was authentic, deep and inspiring. He served the TFPs with generosity and zeal for over forty years.
He is survived by his mother, Mrs. Sandra Fragelli, and siblings, Canon Henrique Fragelli, Andrea F. Phillips (Brian), Maria F. Becker (Bruce), Teresa F. Bentivegna (Nicholas), Myriam F. D’Agostini (Mark), and Mariana Fragelli.
He was born in the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on December 31, 1962. Five months later, through the intercession of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Antonio was miraculously cured of hydrocephalus. This remarkable occurrence drew the Fragelli family deeper into the practice of the Catholic Faith.
Antonio was educated in his native city and later at a TFP boarding school for boys in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He spent a short time in Ecuador, then several years of formation at the TFP House of Studies of São Bento in São Paulo, Brazil.
At a young age, Antonio followed the example of his father, Luiz Antonio Fragelli, and joined in the TFP activities. He was known in TFP circles as “Mr. Antonio” to distinguish him from his father, who was “Mr. Fragelli” to everyone.
Mr. Antonio: Serious, Discreet and Reliable
From the onset, Mr. Antonio assumed various roles and responsibilities in the TFP because of his serious and responsible character.
His first post of responsibility was to head a TFP boys’ school in Spain in 1984—1985, under difficult circumstances and few resources. In 1986, he managed the main TFP House of Formation for Youth in São Paulo, Brazil.
At the request of Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Brazilian TFP founder, Mr. Antonio relocated to South Africa, where he spent a year engaged in TFP activities.
Dignity and Elevation of Soul
At the time of Mr. Antonio’s TFP involvement in South Africa, a beautiful story illustrates his dignity, unpretentiousness, and elevation of soul.
After his first year, Mr. Antonio returned to São Paulo, Brazil, for a month of rest. He met with Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira to discuss plans and whether to continue working in South Africa, advancing the Counter-Revolution in that nation. On being asked if that is what he desired, Mr. Antonio confided to Prof. Plinio that his stay there had affected his health, which was never robust. He thus was not inclined to return.
“I appreciate your openness and honesty,” said Dr. Plinio, “and I want to commend you on the fact that I see your disposition to return had I so insisted. I also noticed that even if, upon returning, your health would have deteriorated, you would not have blamed me for this suffering. I appreciate your attitude of soul.”
Thus, in 1990, Mr. Antonio moved to the United States to help the American TFP. He began by heading the youth formation department, to which duty he gradually added other responsibilities.
Mr. Antonio’s dignity, elevation of soul and spirit of sacrifice permeated his character and actions and was a source of admiration to his brothers in the TFP.
Crusade Magazine and America Needs Fatima
Still in 1990, though painfully short on help, Mr. Antonio took over the TFP bi-monthly magazine Tradition, Family, Property Magazine. At the time, it had only a few hundred subscribers. Under his direction, the publication changed its name to Crusade Magazine, which eventually became a powerhouse of Catholic Counter-Revolutionary thought in the United States by reaching 200,000 qualified readers.
Mr. Antonio edited Crusade Magazine and contributed articles, often to the back cover section, which dealt with the subliminal destructive inroads of today’s cultural revolution. This aspect of the counter-cultural battle was particularly dear to his heart.
Operative and Practical Wisdom
Mr. Antonio also had a good dose of operative wisdom. He had the gift of thinking long-term and picking the right person for the right job, which gave things a calm, enduring purpose. He was remarkably efficient in heading large projects in the America Needs Fatima campaign. His management philosophy was based on this phrase of Saint Teresa of Avila, “No hay que hablar; hay que orar y obrar.” (One need not talk but pray and act.)
He was responsible for the America Needs Fatima membership services, phone communications, correspondence, book publishing, direct mail design and execution and general planning and material production. Most recently, Mr. Antonio headed the America Needs Fatima online, website presence, and video department, raising the email subscriber list to 420,000 readers.
Mr. Antonio’s zeal and reputation in organizational matters led a friend to remark on his death, “God must have wanted Mr. Antonio to help organize some big operation in heaven.”
A Trusted and Respected Friend
TFP members and friends will always remember Mr. Antonio as a trusted and respected friend. At the collective level, he added cheer and joy to everyday life, as when he inaugurated and maintained the tradition of serving homemade pizza on Friday nights. This became a well-loved TFP tradition.
On a personal level, Mr. Antonio was a trusted friend to the troubled or tempted in the TFP. He acted as a guardian angel. In a discreet and direct manner, he inspired trust. Many confided their troubles to him. He rescued them from the tumultuous waters of doubt, temptation and discouragement by his disinterested friendship, good advice and brotherly support. I am one of the many who benefited from this fraternal gift.
A Profound Catholic Sense
About the Catholic sense, Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira says, “Our Lord is the vine, and we are the branches. The closer we are to the vine, the more life-sap we will have in us. In the same sense, the Holy Church is the vine, and we are the branches. The more we are united to it, the more sap we will have in us. The more united we are to the Church, the more our thoughts are her thoughts, the more our spiritual life will be deep and intense, and the more complete will be our Catholic sense.”
Mr. Antonio was not only enthusiastically faithful to the Holy Catholic Church in its doctrinal teachings but was also deeply imbued with a Catholic sense. Both enabled him to navigate a host of thorny situations successfully, always finding the Catholic and sensible solution to each.
Although his Catholic sense was rooted in his Brazilian, Portuguese, and Italian ancestry, Mr. Antonio was enthusiastic about everything Spanish. His favorite times were when he could steal a few days and go to Spain to visit the shrines, imbibe the culture, enjoy a good paella, visit friends and watch a bullfight.
However, what he most liked was the strong, direct spirit of the Spanish saints, such as Saint Teresa of Avila, who wrote: “Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.”
Exceptional Filial Devotion to His Parents
In recent years, Mr. Antonio shouldered with cheer and devotion the support and care of his ailing parents. His father died in 2020 after years of anguished suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Mr. Antonio oversaw his daily care and many needs. He also touchingly supported his mother, displaying veneration, love and devotion, a sharp contrast to modern children’s neglect of elderly and ailing parents.
Mrs. Fragelli had left behind a secure, comfortable and pleasant life in Brazil to endure decades of adventure and challenging times to follow her husband in his leadership role in the TFPs in Ecuador and the United States.
Mr. Antonio ensured that his mother’s lifetime of dedication would not go unsupported and unrewarded. He was determined that his mother not wait for eternal life to receive her just reward, resolving to cushion the sufferings of her declining years with noble generosity, service and filial dedication. Mrs. Fragelli referred to Mr. Antonio as “the son of my soul,” a touching monument to motherly love and filial devotion.
Mr. Antonio’s Final Days
Mr. Antonio contracted the Chinese COVID-19 virus while working and traveling in the line of duty. Flu-like symptoms gave way to viral pneumonia and prompted his hospitalization. A priest from the Institute of Christ the King in Pittsburgh heard his final confession and gave him the Last Rites and Apostolic Blessing. Mr. Antonio expressed to his sister, Teresa, how happy he was to have made his confession. On her asking him if he was afraid, he said, “I long to see the face of God.”
He only worried about two things: the care of his mother and Purgatory. Hours later, he was induced into a coma and intubated. While the prognosis of the disease was initially hopeful, an infected gall bladder signaled that Divine Providence was calling him.
As his final agony approached, veteran TFP member and old friend Michael Gorre stood by his bedside, praying and consoling him in this most decisive time in life, when the soul passes into eternity and appears before the Judgment Seat of Almighty God.
His last minutes were blessed and calm. Michael Gorre prayed the Litany of the Dying, the Litany to Saint Joseph, other prayers for the dying and the Holy Rosary in his hospital room. At the recitation of the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery, the final steps of Mr. Antonio’s own Via Crucis began. By the end of the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery, holding the crucifix in his hand, Mr. Antonio passed away peacefully. Mr. Michael held his arm and said, “Mr. Antonio, you ran the race. You fought the good fight.”
Mr. Antonio Fragelli passed into eternity on Sunday, December 19, just before the 6 p.m. Angelus.
The news was relayed to the other TFP members who offered a Rosary for the eternal repose of Mr. Antonio’s soul. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15).
In closing, these words are both a tribute and a request for prayers, sacrifices and especially Masses for Mr. Antonio’s soul. The last thing he would have wanted from his family, brothers and friends would be for them to cease praying for him after his death. Instead, he would have wanted Masses and good works to be offered for his soul to help him to heaven as soon as possible.
Mr. Antonio would also definitely not want people to fuss about him. He would have said in a few words, “Yes, thank you. Please pray for me, and get on with the fight.”
To which, we reply: “Dear Mr. Antonio, you go to celebrate Christmas in Heaven with our TFP brothers, with Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, with the angels and saints, and above all, with Our Lady and the Holy Trinity. Here below, we vow to carry on the fight! Pray for us. Amen!”