For a seminar focusing on the divisions inside the nation, the 2004 TFP National Conference was a scene of amazing unity. The Columbus weekend event brought together Catholics of like mind from across the nation for an intense and varied program. By the end of the conference, all seemed to be immersed in an unforgettable atmosphere of grace and counter-revolutionary camaraderie.
For the nearly 280 supporters, members and friends that filled to capacity the 2004 TFP National Conference at the organization’s headquarters in Spring Grove, Penn., the conference was a welcome chance to meet with others and compare notes on how to develop effective counterrevolutionary action.
This year’s theme was especially timely considering the present political climate. The title, “A Look at a Polarized America: How Our Nation is an Obstacle on the Road to Chaos” stressed the existence of wholesome reactions in America and its implications. The joyous event boasted an array of distinguished guests and speakers.
Of course, the greatest “guest” was the Blessed Mother herself. Participants had the great privilege of venerating the famous International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima who presided as queen over the National Congress. Her unexpected presence showered the event with graces and blessings.
The American TFP was also honored with several other special guests. Delivering the Sunday luncheon address was Prince Bertrand of Orleans-Braganza representing the Brazilian TFP. Also speaking were EWTN host Fr. John Trigilio and pro-life activist Mr. Joseph Scheidler, National Director of the Pro-life Action League.
Facing the Future
Given the climate of polarization in the nation, this year’s conference aimed to supply participants with the tools to face the future. TFP members and directors offered talks based on the principles of the book, Revolution and Counter-Revolution by TFP founder, Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. They also sought to instill confidence and hope in Providence and the Blessed Mother in these difficult days.
TFP Director John Horvat spoke on “The Role of True Catholics in a Polarized America.” He defined American polarization and its causes and then explained what faithful Catholics should do in face of it. Mr. Horvat also looked at the existence of a crisis among liberals and leftists today and how conservatives must capitalize on it. TFP member Michael Drake developed this theme yet further during his luncheon address by offering concrete suggestions on what TFP supporters could do in their areas.
TFP Washington Bureau Director Mario Navarro da Costa discussed another aspect of this polarization in his talk, “Entering a New Era of Religious Persecution.” He warned of encroaching judicial activism and new legislation that threatened the free practice of the Faith. Mr. DA Costa explained how the only response to the coming persecution is action, confidence and hope in the Blessed Mother.
“Refuting the American Myth” was the title of the talk given by American TFP member Norman Fulkerson. His presentation focused on the Cultural War and how some Americans are fighting bad culture with good culture. He encouraged TFP supporters to become involved not only in the religious aspect but also the cultural side of the struggle for Christian civilization.
With the controversy surrounding pro-abortion politicians receiving Holy Communion, Mr. Luis Solimeo, a Brazilian TFP author and TFP Vice President Thomas McKenna presented Church teaching on the matter. Their talk “Holy Communion, Secularism and Christian Civilization” also denounced secularism and its attempt to destroy the link between religious and temporal society. Mr. Luiz Antonio Fragelli, Senior TFP Director, summarized the conference and presented conclusions in his masterful presentation, “America: A New St. Paul?”
Between the Talks
The talks were but one part of the two-day event. There were other aspects that made the TFP National Conference an unforgettable experience. Foremost were the daily Latin Masses which brought down God’s blessing upon the gathering.
Since there was no auditorium on the TFP property that could hold the crowd, the lectures were held in a large tent. Every effort was made to create a proper and beautifully decorated atmosphere for the meals and breaks between talks.
Conversation seemed almost as essential as the meetings as TFP supporters had a chance to converse and share impressions. New friendships were formed, old acquaintances renewed.
A large number of young people were also present to add enthusiasm and life to the gathering. Students from the TFP-run St. Louis de Montfort Academy helped with the logistics of the conferences together with members of TFP Student Action. Several university students also attended and joined in discussions of the themes with younger TFP members.
Although everything miraculously stayed on schedule, there never seemed to be enough time to talk to everyone. The program also had its surprises. One was a presentation of the TFP’s Holy Choirs of Angels Band. The Saturday evening performance featured a selection of pieces for drums, files, brass and bagpipes much to the delight of those present.
Highlights to Remember
Another highlight was a candlelight rosary procession with the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue. Prayers and songs echoed along the long lines of faithful who prayed for an end of the sin of abortion.
Especially memorable was the High Mass celebrated Sunday afternoon with permission from the diocese, at Immaculate Conception Church in York, Penn. The mass was sung by the TFP Choir and attended by over 300 people. Father Edward Kraus of Erie, Penn. celebrated the mass and delivered the homily.
The recently- restored historical church was a perfect setting for the splendorous ceremony. The high point was the recessional procession with an awe-inspiring rendition of the Papal Hymn with organ, trumpet and choir that echoed throughout the church.
After mass, the closing dinner was held at the grand ballroom of the nearby historic Yorktowne Hotel. At the end, TFP Student Action members recounted their adventures defending traditional marriage on American universities. No one seemed to want the evening to end as the farewells lingered far into the night and all prepared to return home where they can put into practice lessons learned at the 2004 TFP National Conference.