Our Lady of Fatima Chapel

Phone: 804-222-3530

Our Mission

The officers and congregation of Our Lady of Fatima Traditional Roman Catholic Church asserting their unswerving allegiance and devotion to the Holy Catholic Church: that is; to the Catholic Faith as handed down by her 2000 year old Magisterium through Holy Tradition; to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (in an authentic rite); to the Holy Sacraments Our Lord entrusted to her; to the Primacy of the See of Rome whose rule and power were bestowed by Our Lord on St. Peter and his successors, the Popes; to the Apostles and their successors, the Bishops; and to all the religious customs Our Holy Mother the Church has given to us through the centuries.

It is for these ends and our desire to remain faithful to that Magisterium and these Traditions that Our Lady Of Fatima Traditional Roman Catholic Chapel is established, that is, to enable faithful Catholics to practice this allegiance in these turbulent times that have descended upon us after the Second Vatican Council with its errors, false teachings, collapse of the Magisterium of the Church, and her giving in to the "Children of this World". It is for these reasons that we remain independent from the local Church. It is also for these reasons that we align ourselves with the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) whose ends are the same, that is, to pass on that Faith whole and entire, unchanged, as it was received from Christ by the Apostles and passed down through the centuries to our own time in an unbroken line. We, likewise, look to the Society of Saint Pius X for the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Holy Oils to be used in Sacraments, for the cases of supplied jurisdiction that is necessary, and for both practical and spiritual guidance in these difficult times in the Church. The Chapel also desires (with the advice of the Society of Saint Pius X) to keep good relations with those other groups desiring to practice that same Catholic Faith. The Chapel shall, because of the present situation in the Church since the Second Vatican Council, keep its distance from the official local Catholic Church as long as it remains in these errors and does not return, undoubtedly, to the Catholic Tradition.

Our History

In the spring of 1977, a number of Catholics in the Richmond, Virginia, area, unhappy with the many changes within the Catholic Church, especially to the Tridentine Mass, learned of an organization called the "Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement", dedicated to the preservation of the traditional faith. They contacted Father Francis Fenton, founder of that organization, with a request that the traditional Mass be offered in Richmond. Father Fenton agreed, and on May 1st, 1977, he himself said Mass at the Airport Holiday Inn on Williamsburg Road in Henrico County. Some 350 people attended.

On Sunday, May 15, 1977, a meeting of some of those Catholics took place and a traditional Catholic parish was founded. On June 5, 1977, officers were elected and goals set. Initial aims were to find a permanent location for the Mass and Rosary services, catechism classes, training of altar boys, and establishment of a stable financial base.

Following the founding of the new parish, Masses began to be said on a regular, though not frequent, basis, at various hotels and motels. A number of ORCM priests came to Richmond to offer the Mass. Father Robert McKenna, Father Joseph Gorecki, Father Victor Mroz, Father Daniel Jones, Father White, Father George Musey, and Father Roy Randolph were among those who served us during that time, principally at the Jefferson Hotel.

On August 19, 1979, 27 members of the parish were confirmed by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre of the Society of St. Pius X, on Long Island, New York. This marked the first time the Chapel had availed itself of the services of the Society. It would not be the last.

In the early fall of 1980, the Parish learned that the Jefferson Hotel was to be renovated, which meant that no longer could the Mass and Rosary services continue there. However, perhaps through the intercession of Our Lady, a Mennonite church came on the market, and on September 24, 1980, an agreement was signed to purchase the building. The first Rosary service was held there on October 26, 1980. The Chapel was blessed by Father Fenton on November 16, 1980.

Now, with the Parish owning its own site, Father Mroz came to Richmond every other week to offer Mass on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. On the alternate Sundays when the Mass was not offered, a Rosary service was held, led by members of the core group which had formed to constitute the Parish. At the time of this writing, a number of those original members were still faithfully serving Our Lady of Fatima Chapel.

In the spring of 1982, Father Mroz was no longer able to serve the Chapel. With his departure, the decision was made, for various reasons, to leave ORCM. This meant that fewer Masses and more Rosary services were held at the Chapel. Father Urban Snyder and Father Henry Lovett offered a few Masses in 1982. In January 1983, Father Guenter Richter, a young German priest, arrived at the Chapel. He had been ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre but soon left the Society of St. Pius X. He offered Mass until Easter Sunday, April 3, 1983, when he departed. At that time, Father Snyder began to offer Mass every six weeks, and when possible, on other occasions. In addition, Father Kouwenberg, a Dutch priest, offered Mass once or twice a year for several years.

On April 29th, 1986, four children from Our Lady of Fatima Parish were among a number of others from traditional parishes confirmed by Archbishop Lefebvre at the St. Pius X Mission, Virginia Beach, Virginia. This was the last group confirmed by the Archbishop in the United States.

June 1988 marked a mementous occasion for the Chapel. During that month, Father Joseph Terry Marks arrived to become its first permanent resident priest. Within days of his arrival, Father Marks celebrated his 39th birthday. A native of Kentucky, he had been ordained a priest on May 30, 1983, for the Archdiocese of Louisville. However, in May 1984, he left the Archdiocese, guided by Father Francis Hannifin, a staunchly traditional priest and friend of the Society of St. Pius X. Father Marks was conditionally reordained that same month by Archbishop Lefebvre.

While with the Society of St. Pius X, Father Marks had served St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Ridgefield, Connecticut, at Queen of the Angels Chapel in Dickinson, Texas, and at St. Pius X Priory at Shawinigan-Sud, Quebec, Canada. He came to Our Lady of Fatima on the advice of Father Snyder and moved into the newly purchased house at 5104 Futura Avenue, which served as the rectory for several years. With his arrival, the parish now had the Mass every Sunday, as well as daily and on holy days. It also meant that parishioners now were able to take advantage of other priestly functions, such as counseling, weddings, ministering to the sick, and numerous other actions associated with a parish priest.

In August, 1990, a generous parishioner established a scholarship to St. Mary's Academy and College, St. Mary's, Kansas, for youth and young adults of the parish. St. Mary's is the largest traditional school in the United States.

In September 1990, a second Sunday Mass was added to accommodate a growing congregation.

On April 9, 1991, a special Requiem Mass was offered at the Chapel for the repose of the soul of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who had died on March 25, 1991.

On June 9, 1991, Bishop Richard N. Williamson of the Society of St. Pius X administered the Sacrament of Confirmation at Our Lady of Fatima Chapel to a number of its parishioners, as well as to members of other traditional Chapels. This was the bishop's first visit to the Chapel. Subsequently, he made a number of visits for differing reasons.

Following Father Marks arrival at the Chapel, a number of other priests visited the Chapel to assist in various ways. Among these were Father Carl Pulvermacher, Father Ramon Angles (Rector and Dean of St. Mary's Academy and College), Father Peter John Katzeroff, Father Blute, a Society missionary in India, Father Stehlin, a Society priest in Eastern Europe, Father Hunter, whose father's Requiem Mass had been said by Father Marks, Father John Quinn of the traditional Chapel in Lake Zurich, Illinois, and Father Ronald Ringrose, of St. Athanasius Chapel in Vienna, Virginia.

In 1994-1995, two homes directly behind the Chapel were purchased. One became the rectory (5218 Montpelier Street), and the other the guest house. Two vacant lots were included in the transaction and additional parking was made available on them. The garage included with the rectory was remodeled into the priest's office.

In 1997, planning of a building project was begun which would greatly enhance the Chapel. In June of 1998, actual construction began and in 1999, the project was completed. As a result of this work, the Chapel was enlarged, primarily to accommodate a much larger sanctuary featuring a beautiful altar which had been unceremoniously removed from a novus ordo church severing its ties to the traditional Catholic Church. On September 26, 1999, Bishop Williamson again visited the Chapel, this time to bless the new addition.

As with most things, change was a constant in the parish. A new Board of Trustees was elected in November, 2000. One of the aims of the new board was to update and modernize the Constitution of the Chapel. A committee was formed in 2002 and its members spent many months planning and writing and rewriting, with the counsel of two lawyers and the Society of St. Pius X. At length, in May of 2003, the finished product was presented to the voting members of the Chapel, who overwhelmingly approved it. The committee and the Board felt that the new constitution was much improved over the original and was much more parishioner friendly.

In the years following the completion of the construction, parishioners gratefully worshipped in their enlarged Chapel. However, the declining state of Father Marks' health increasingly concerned the membership. Finally, on January 30, 2003, Father Marks died. On Tuesday, February 3, Bishop Williamson again came to our Chapel, this time to preside at a Solemn Requiem High Mass for our deceased pastor. The following day, Father Mark's body was flown to his home state, there to be interred next to that of his mentor, Father Hannifin, close by the traditional Chapel in Boston, Kentucky. Five members of Our Lady of Fatima Chapel made the journey to Kentucky to represent the Chapel in paying last respects to the first resident pastor of the first traditional parish in Richmond since Vatican II.

With the loss of Father Marks, the Chapel now faced the challenge of finding a new pastor. Initially, and for a short time, the Society of St. Pius X, through its seminary at Winona, Minnesota, provided a priest to say Mass on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Fathers Peek, Goettler, and Doran each flew to Richmond one or more times to offer the Mass. Then, in late February 2003, word came that through the good offices of the Society of St. Pius X, a priest was available to become the second permanently assigned pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Parish. Thus it was that in early March 2003, Father Gary D. Dilley said his first Mass, as our pastor, in our Chapel.

Father Dilley arrived at the parish in turbulent times. Not only had the pastor died, but it was discovered that the rectory and the guest house both were in need of massive renovation and repair. Moreover, several major problems revealed themselves in the Chapel itself. Because of all the reconstruction work going on in the three buildings, Father Dilley had to live in the guest house until the rectory work was finally completed. At the same time, parishioners were hard at work attempting to separate parish belongings from those that were Father Marks', plus reconstruct administrative files from computers and paper files. Time-consuming as it was, those tasks were finally completed and the parish looked forward to a long period of normalcy and tranquility.

As the year 2004 began, Father Dilley had settled in to his new pastorate. New programs had begun: adult and child education courses, a renewed emphasis on bringing converts into the parish (five adults were baptized shortly after Easter, 2004, and a sixth, along with two of her children, was baptized in May of that same year), and formation of a Holy Name Society were among them. Believing that the year 2003 had been an anomaly, a feeling of optimism had taken hold and the parish looked forward to many years of growth and stability.