Was it the meetings, the lively conversations or the making of new friends? Was it the bishop’s sermon, the prince’s convocation or the hero’s testimony? Was it the rosary procession or the final High Mass? It is hard to decide which parts of the weekend were best since it takes a little time to sort out the impressions.
However, for the over 200 TFP supporters, members and friends that attended the 2003 TFP National Conference at the organization’s headquarters in Spring Grove, Penn., there was a consensus that the intense weekend went all too quickly.
Indeed, the conference ended, but the graces, memories, and friendships still remain. The joyous event was filled to capacity with friends and supporters from all across the nation. It boasted an impressive array of distinguished guests and speakers.
First among them was Bishop Juan Rodolfo Laise, Bishop Emeritus of San Luis (Argentina) who celebrated Mass and also eloquently spoke at the Saturday luncheon. Prince Bertrand of Orleans-Braganza delivered a powerful keynote speech-convocation on the need to embark on a Counter-revolution. Ambassador Armando Valladares reflected on his 21 years in Cuban prison camps. Col. John Ripley, USMC (Ret.) addressed the conference via a video presentation with a stirring wartime testimony of his Catholic Faith.
To those in the daily struggle to persevere in a sinful and revolutionary world, the conference was an opportunity to “recharge” one’s batteries and return refreshed. Talks centered on themes from the book, Revolution and Counter-Revolution by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira and sought to give participants the tools to understand something of today’s crisis and elements to act efficiently in a crusade to defend Christian civilization.
“Our Challenge: Breaking the American Consensus” by TFP Director John Horvat discussed liberal America’s attack on a religious and moralistic America and how to oppose it. Mr. Luis Solemeo, a Brazilian TFP member, presented practical principles of how to act on public opinion in his talk, “Mastering the Counter-Revolution.” The director of the TFP Washington Bureau, Mr. Mario Navarro da Costa, spoke on the need to consider temporal affairs together with religious matters when engaged in the counter-revolutionary struggle.
In another round of talks, American TFP member Norman Fulkerson gave a masterful presentation on “Heaven, the Terminal Point of our Journey.” Participants thoroughly enjoyed the presentation, “For God’s Sake, not Our Own” by Michael Whitcraft, which denounced a man-centered worship of God.. A lively discussion developed around the lecture, “Analyzing the Laugh as a Contributing Factor to Revolution Throughout the Centuries,” delivered by Byron Whitcraft.
More than Talks
While such speakers gave depth and substance to the conference, a TFP National Conference is more than just talks.
It is the little things that make all the difference. This could be seen in how the participants besought God’s blessing by praying before and after all the meetings. It was apparent in the care with which all sought to honor the presence of the bishop and prince. The organizing committee made every attempt to create a proper and beautifully decorated atmosphere for the meals and meetings.
A special joy was the presence of the students from the TFP-run St. Louis de Montfort Academy. Also reassuring were several university students from the work of TFP Student Action. Participants saw how the principles they studied during the meetings had a future in today’s youth.
Between talks, participants had time to converse and share their impressions. The joy of being together was very apparent. New friends were soon talking as if they had known each other for years.
The conference did not neglect the spiritual side of any effective Catholic action.
As a special tribute to the Blessed Mother, attendees participated in a long candlelight rosary procession with an exact life-size replica of Seville’s famous statue of Our Lady of Hope – Macarena. Recalling the compatriots of Amb. Valladares still under Castro’s tyranny, the rosary’s intention was for all those suffering under communism in Cuba and around the world.
The ornate statue of Our Lady stood on a float carried by a troop of strong men as she presided at the end of the procession. As darkness descended over the crowd, the long lines of faithful extended far ahead, singing songs and offering prayers.
Especially memorable was the High Mass celebrated Sunday afternoon at St. Patrick’s Church in York, Penn. and sung by the TFP Choir. With the permission of the local ordinary, the traditional Tridentine Mass was attended by over 300 people. Bishop Laise celebrated the mass with all the ceremonial due to his office. His sermon was exuberant and encouraging.
The high point of the ceremony was the recessional procession where a moving spine-tingling rendition of the Papal Hymn with organ, trumpet and choir filled the church and left many wondering if they had not experienced a foretaste of heaven.
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Alas, the end of the conference had to come. After mass, the closing dinner was held at the grand ballroom of the nearby Yorktowne Hotel. Despite the varied backgrounds of those present, the atmosphere was that of a family reunion. Indeed, it was – a family of like-minded Catholics dedicated to defending Christian Civilization against so many threats.