Father John Fullerton took office as the District Superior of the United States District on the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, August 15, 2002. Father Fullerton resides at the Regina Coeli House in Kansas City, MO.
La Porte Latine : Father, could you explain to us the office which you occupy in the Society?
Father Fullerton : I occupy the position of District Superior responsible for the pastoral, spiritual, and temporal administration of the District of the United States of America. In this District there are currently 48 Society priests and 7 priest friends who see to the care of the roughly 20,000 faithful who regularly attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and receive the Sacraments at one of the 105 chapels spread across the country.
La Porte Latine : Can you tell us about your new establishments?
Father Fullerton : One of the major projects currently under construction is the building of a new U.S. District Headquarters. Since the current building, which houses both district and priory priests, has once again become too small for our needs, we began the search for another suitable property. We finally purchased property in a beautiful country setting just outside of Kansas City. If all goes well, the new house should be finished and our District office moved in by next Spring. The former District House, while still remaining the priory for St. Vincent's, will also be used as an educational center for priests from the Novus Ordo who have expressed interest in working with the Society. Another new establishment, which we hope to open in the Fall of 2005 is our first boys, boarding only, high school. Recently, we were able to purchase a former seminary of the La Salette Fathers south of Chicago, in Olivet, Illinois. We plan to move our Armada, Michigan boys' boarding school, which has been running for the past eight years, to this new location. Also, as the number of priests in the U.S. district increases, we plan to open more priories in centrally located areas. This will not only give the faithful more centers where they can attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass daily but it will also help to cut down on travel time for our priests who at present spend many hours in the air or on the road traveling to the various missions.
La Porte Latine : My Father, can you describe for us your apostolate in the USA?
Father Fullerton : Here in the U. S., most of our priests spend their week either teaching in one of our schools, or preaching retreats. Currently, our priests run 16 schools, which include 6 high schools and 1 college. Retreats are preached in three different Houses and although they are primarily Ignation retreats, occasionally other types are also preached, e.g. Marian or Teacher retreats. On weekends, most of the priests head out on a weekend Mass circuit, where they see to the needs of the faithful by offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, administering the sacraments and teaching catechism. Each priest normally says two or three Masses each Sunday in two different chapels. We also have the apostolate of publishing good Catholic literature, which is done through our own Angelus Press here in Kansas City. The Angelus Press has seen a steady increase in sales year after year as interest in good Catholic literature and concern for the crisis in the Church grows.
La Porte Latine : What importance has the Third Order in the USA?
Father Fullerton : In many of our chapels there are a good number of faithful who wish to sanctify themselves by more closely aligning themselves with the work of the Society. They find the Third Order as a great means to this end.
La Porte Latine : Can you give us a word on the friendly communities and the friendly priests?
Father Fullerton : In the U. S. we have several religious communities working closely with us in the fight for Tradition. Among these groups are the Benedictines in Silver City, New Mexico, the Dominican Sisters in Post Falls, Idaho, the Carmelites in Spokane, Washington, and the Franciscan Sisters in Kansas City, Missouri (Please see our page about Latin Orders). There are also many independent priests who work alongside us in this same battle. Recently, in an attempt to bring more priests back to Tradition, a book containing interviews with 16 of these independent priests was compiled and mailed to all priests in the U.S. Over 45,000 copies were sent and in two weeks we have received over 120 responses, requesting instructional information on the Tridentine Mass.
La Porte Latine : What are your relations with the local episcopate?
Father Fullerton : Except for an occasional letter warning the parishioners not to attend our Masses, because we are "schismatic, excommunicated, etc." the local bishops try to ignore us, hoping we will go away. Most of them prefer not to give us free advertising. Of course there has not yet been time to see what type of response, if any, will come from the book of interviews.
La Porte Latine : In the past thirty years, the ground covered seems incredible!
Father Fullerton : Yes, it certainly does! The number of faithful in our chapels has grown to over 20,000. Our largest parish, St. Mary's, Kansas, has over 2,500 parishioners and there are more than 800 students in the Academy and College.
La Porte Latine : What about religious vocations?
Father Fullerton : The number of vocations has seen an increase in the last few years. The Society Seminary here in the U.S., St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Minnesota, received 27 young men who wished to try their vocation this past Fall. On February 2 of this year there were 21 first year seminarians who received the cassock. This has left us facing a very agreeable problem in that our present seminary building is quite full and ready to burst at the seams. Vocations to the other religious communities have also seen increases.
La Porte Latine : And these are all little fruits from the kindness of God and the work in the schools, are they not?
Father Fullerton : Yes, God has been very good to us, continuing to shower His blessings upon us. Many of the present vocations are now coming from our schools. The Ignation Retreats also continue not only to cause many conversions but also to bring vocations.
La Porte Latine : This must be a heavy human and financial load. How do you handle it?
Father Fullerton : God is very good to those who faithfully work in His vineyard; always giving what is needed to take up and carry His sweet yolk. He continues to provide for our financial needs by sending faithful who assist us by generously supplying just what is needed to accomplish our work.
La Porte Latine : How else can the Internet readers of La Porte Latina read your news?
La Porte Latine : Faced with such devotion and confidence in Providence, we are moved to admiration. What can we do to assist you?
Father Fullerton : Please keep the U. S. District and its priests in your prayers, that we may remain faithful to our calling and this great work which God has entrusted to us, and that many more accept His invitation to work faithfully in His vineyards.
Father John Fullerton †
Statistics of the United States District
Currently in the American District there are:
- 50 priests
- 5 deacons
- 12 brothers
- 61 seminarians
- 24 sisters (technically, they are autonomous of the District)
- 850 Third Order members
- 103 chapels
- 16 priories
- 3 houses of formation
- 4 retreat houses
- 23 schools & 1 college
- 1 publishing house (Angelus Press: http://www.angeluspress.org)
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