Deeply concerned about the liturgical reform
and truly understanding the need for the Catholic Church to preserve
and foster the Latin Tridentine Mass, several North Jersey Catholics
banded together, formed a civil corporation, and purchased Grace
Bible Church—now Our Lady of Fatima Chapel—in Pequannock in October
Renovations were done to make the edifice suitable as a Roman
Catholic chapel. On June 16, 1975, a priest then affiliated with the
Society of St. Pius X blessed it. Over the next few months, Sunday
Mass and the Sacraments were offered by various priests, including
the late Rev. Msgr. John J. Cleary (Archdiocese of New York) and the
late Fathers John Keane (Archdiocese of Boston), John A. Gentakes
(Diocese of Albany), and Patrick Shine, S.M.A.
On Nov. 23, 1975, Father Thomas A. Ross, O.F.M., arrived at Our Lady
of Fatima Chapel. He had been ordained in April 1959 by Auxiliary
Bishop Philip M. Hannan, in Washington, D.C., for Holy Name Province
of the Franciscan Friars. (Bishop Hannan later became Archbishop of
Fr. Ross had taught Moral Theology and had been a dean at Franciscan
colleges in upstate New York and had served at New York City’s
famous St. Francis of Assisi Church. So impressed were Chapel
Mass-goers with Fr. Ross’ sermons that he was asked to return Sunday
after Sunday. He would remain at the Chapel for the rest of his
By April 1981, Our Lady of Fatima Chapel and St. Jude’s School (now
called “Kolbe Immaculata School”) were thriving so well under Fr.
Ross’ leadership that it was necessary for him to expand the Mass
schedule. Regular Sunday morning Masses were at 8:00, 9:45, and
11:15, all Low Masses. High Masses were celebrated on Holy Thursday,
Christmas Eve, for the Easter Vigil Liturgy, and, in 1986, on Easter
Fr. Ross had great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Indeed, he
often said that it was She who led him to and kept him at Our Lady
of Fatima Chapel. Due to this filial devotion, Fr. Ross decided in
1982 that the stained glass window of Our Lady of Fatima near the
pulpit should be matched by stained glass windows throughout both
sides of the nave that would depict the other Church-approved Marian
apparitions. Thus, the Chapel undertook a $12,000.00 project to
install such windows. The specially-commissioned windows of Our Lady
of Fatima, Knock, La Salette, Lourdes, Banneux., Guadalupe,
Beauraing, etc. present today are the result of
the efforts of Fr. Ross and his parishioners.
On August 28, 1982 and
again in July 1986, British Traditionalist historian and lecturer Michael
Davies spoke at Our Lady of Fatima Chapel. Mr. Davies died in September
On October 10, 1982, Pope
John Paul II canonized heroic Franciscan Father Maximilian Kolbe. That day,
Chapel members took part in a Rosary Rally at St. Anthony’s Church, in
Butler. At this time, the Chapel was active in the annual Bergen Mall
Charity Festival and numerous socials were held during the year.
In May 1987, the white
and roseate “brickface” façade of the Chapel was installed by Garden State
Brickface Co., for about $40,000.00, funds wisely procured by Fr. Ross from
the sale of unsuitable realty in Warwick, New York, the year before. In June
1989, the Chapel had its first bus trip to the Shrine of the North American
Martyrs at Auriesville, New York.
On March 2, 1993, Father
Ross died at age 61. A High Requiem Mass was offered on First Friday, March
5, by Fr. Eugene Kwiatkowski, O.F.M., who became the Chapel’s temporary
On an evening in December
1993, Fr. Arnaud Devillers, F.S.S.P., offered Holy Mass and spoke at Our
Lady of Fatima Chapel, making him the first priest of the Fraternity of St.
Peter to publicly celebrate Mass in New Jersey. The following Sunday, Fr.
Peter Scott, of the Society of St. Pius X, offered Mass and spoke.
In February 1994, with
the backing of Fr. Kwiatkowski and Bishop Frank J. Rodimer, the
congregation’s voting members elected the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter
to shepherd Our Lady of Fatima Chapel.
After the Fraternity’s
election, various FSSP priests, including Fr. Devillers, served the Chapel
until the arrival of Fr. William Ashley in August 1994. Under Fr. Ashley
(1994-95) and his successor, Fr. Joseph P. Terra, F.S.S.P. (Oct. 1995—Feb.
14, 1999), the confessional was installed and numerous improvements were
made to the sanctuary and nave, many by the late Joseph T. Holahan (d.
2003). High and Solemn High Masses were offered on a regular basis. Under
Fr. Ashley’s tenure, the 5:00 p.m. Sunday Mass was added to the schedule.
In May 1995, His
Eminence, the late Alfons Maria Cardinal Stickler, S.D.B., offered a
Saturday morning Mass at Our Lady of Fatima Chapel, on his way to his
crucial talk on the legal status of the Traditional Latin Mass of Pope St.
Pius V in Fort Lee, New Jersey. On February 11, 2007 and June 1, 2008,
Pontifical High Masses were offered at the Chapel by the Most Reverend
Arthur J. Serratelli, Bishop of Paterson.
Fr. Terra was succeeded
by Fr. Dennis Duvelius, now of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Fr. Duvelius
remained until the summer of 1999, when Fr. James W. McLucas and his
assistant, Fr. Calvin Goodwin, F.S.S.P., arrived. Fr. McLucas resigned on
March 2, 2000 and Fr. Goodwin became temporary administrator.
In August 2000, Fr. Denis
G. Bouchard, F.S.S.P., was made Chapel administrator, with Fr. Nicholas
Peter Zolnerowicz, F.S.S.P., as his assistant. (Fr. Zolnerowicz died on May
29, 2004 at age 81. He is buried at St. Catherine’s Cemetery, Moscow, PA.)
On the Feast of the Assumption 2001, Fr. Robert F. Fromageot, F.S.S.P.,
became administrator, with Fr. Arnaud Mortemard de Boisse, F.S.S.P., as
curate, and Rev. Mr. John McDaniels, F.S.S.P., as deacon. Fr. Fromageot
stayed until he was transferred by the District Superior on Feb. 19, 2003,
when Jesuit Father Kenneth Baker became temporary administrator.
Fr. Mark F. Fischer,
F.S.S.P., arrived as administrator on his patron saint’s day, April 25,
2003. Fr. de Boisse remained until mid-2004, when he was replaced by Fr.
Benoît Guichard, F.S.S.P. Later, Fr. Gerard C. Saguto, F.S.S.P., became
curate to Fr. Fischer. He was succeeded in 2005 by Fr. Gregory Pendergraft,
F.S.S.P. Father Fischer was appointed pastor of St. Michael’s Church,
Scranton, in August 2006, and Fr. Guichard became administrator in
Pequannock. Fr. Joseph R. Howard, F.S.S.P., came to Our Lady of Fatima
Chapel in 2006 to assist Fr. Guichard. In July 2008, Fr. Pendergraft will
become pastor of St. Michael’s Church.
Other priests who have
served Our Lady of Fatima Chapel are Fr. Jose Maria Salgado, F.S.S.P., now
retired; Fr. Carlos Reyes-Barrios, F.S.S.P. (1998-99), Fr. Carlos Casavantes,
F.S.S.P., Fr. James Buckley, F.S.S.P. (1994), Fr. Howard Remski, F.S.S.P.
(2000), Fr. John A. Perricone (weekend assistant, 1994-95), the late Fr.
Paul A. Wickens (1993-94), and, as a transitional deacon (1998-99), Fr.
+ STAINED GLASS WINDOWS FROM OUR LADY OF FATIMA CHAPEL
Each window commemorates one of the many Apparitions and Titles of Our Lady
|Our Lady of Fatima
||Our Lady of
|Our Lady of
||Our Lady of
||Our Lady of La
|Our Lady of
||Our Lady of the