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The Fatima Family Apostolate (FFA) is a U.S.-based Roman Catholic Apostolate with headquarters in Hanceville, Alabama, founded in 1986 by Fr. Robert J. Fox and named after Our Lady of Fátima. Mr. John C. Preiss is currently the President.


Main article: Robert J. Fox

The Fatima Family Apostolate was founded in 1986, with the encouragement of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, by the Father Robert J. Fox,[1] a prominent author speaker on devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. At the time, Fox, who was ordained in 1955 for the Diocese of Sioux Falls was assigned to the parish of St. Mary of Mercy in Alexandria, South Dakota. There, he built a Marian shrine now known as the Fatima Family Shrine.[2] It was the third Marian shrine Fox built, having previously erected shrined during earlier assignments at St. Bernard's Parish in Redfield and the parish of the Immaculate Conception in Waubay.[3] The shrine in Alexandria was dedicated during the 1987 Marian Year by Alberto Cosme do Amaral, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leiria-Fátima.[2]

In September 1987 Fox hosted the first annual Marian Congress in America at Alexandria.[3] Fox had speaking engagements and during a visit to Moscow, presented Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Catholic Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow, a statue of Our Lady of Fatima as a gift to the Russian people.[3]

The FFA is located in Hanceville, Alabama. It is an international Apostolate, having members all over the world and publishes a quarterly magazine called the Immaculate Heart Messenger.

Also, the FFA has built shrines in honor of Our Lady in Alexandria, South Dakota and Hanceville, Alabama. The FFA operates the Father Robert J. Fox and Our Lady of Fatima Museum to educate its visitors on the life of Father Fox and the message of Our Lady of Fatima.

Summary or principles

The Charter of the Fatima Family Apostolate is a working document to guide the various segments of the Apostolate as outlined in the Charter and the Marian Manual. For adult groups, the first literature to be studied by a newly forming group is the Charter itself. This can be done during the first couple of meetings so that it can be reasonably completed before starting to use the Marian Manual. It is the Marian Manual which provides the key formats for the meetings once the group is established and is to be used by all groups as outlined in the Charter- [4]

The FFA has no source of income and no dues are required of members. There is no major staff. The Immaculate Heart Messenger Magazine serves as a means of communication among the various groups. The President of the FFA serves as the editor of the Immaculate Heart Messenger- [5]

The structure consists in following the format for meetings as designated in the Marian Manual.([6]

The Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity of the Second Vatican Council said that all baptized members of the Church am called to holiness; there is no need for a priest to be present at prayer meetings.[7]

The spirituality of the Apostolate

The Apostolate's stated main goal is the sanctification of family life. It tries to educate and form children from their earliest years through adolescence into young adulthood.

In pursuit of living a sanctified married life, members of the Fatima Family Apostolate are required to accept all the official teachings of the Catholic Church, and to not accept dissent from Church teachings on faith and morals. The Apostolate respects what it considers the authority of Jesus Christ vested in the Pope and bishops of the church, and are expected to instill this into their children.

The Apostolate follows the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul II Familiaris Consortio (The Role of the Christian Family in the Modem World) regarding the spiritual connection between matrimony and the Holy Eucharist.[8]

Members meet at least once per month to pray and discuss. They undertake to do the spiritual reading in the course of the month.[9] They educate their children to pray and try to leave an irremovable impression on them. Apart from morning and evening prayer and prayers before meals, certain forms of prayer are expressly encouraged, including reading, meditating and other devotions and practices.[10]

Various groups

The FFA has six major segments in which members may participate according to their needs and circumstances.

1. Married Marian Couples - married couples who meet at least once per month for at least one hour of prayer and discussion. A group may be formed with as few as two couples, with the preferred size being five couples. When a group has grown to seven or eight couples and another couple wishes to join, groups divide (pp. 41 & 42).

2. Fatima Family Youth Groups - composed of teenagers with an adult leader, or young single adults, with these two groups meeting separately.

3. Children’s Groups - may vary in age from about four or five to age twelve, starting with talks for small children[11]

4. General Family Prayer Groups- mixed groups of adults of all ages and marital status.[12]

6. Suffering Members for the Conversion of One’s Country - permanently disabled people. They can receive a special certificate of membership and a card with a short daily prayer. (p. 44).[13]

Robert J. Fox, Founder of the FFA, died on 26 November 2009 at his home in Hanceville, AL, USA. A lay person author and writer and convert to the Catholic Church, John C. Preiss, became President of the Fatima Family Apostolate and Editor of the quarterly magazine the Immaculate Heart Messenger.

There are FFA groups in Australia and it is finding its way into the Philippines where its magazine, the Immaculate Heart Messenger is printed for places in Asia. Australia members made a summary of the FFA Charter.


  1. ^ Simerman, Jennifer. "First-class Fatima relics visit high schools", Today's Catholic, Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, October 12, 2019
  2. ^ a b Mazurczak, Filip. "Finding Fatima in the Dakotas", National Catholic Register, October 13, 2015
  3. ^ a b c Janaro, John M. '"Robert J. Fox", Fishers of Men, Chap.1, Trinity Communications, 1986ISBN 978-9997637734
  4. ^ Charter of the Fatima Family Apostolate(p. 13)
  5. ^ Charter of the Fatima Family Apostolate(p 14)
  6. ^ Charter of the Fatima Family Apostolate pp. 14 & 15)
  7. ^ Charter of the Fatima Family Apostolate (p 16)
  8. ^ Charter of the Fatima Family Apostolate(p. 25)
  9. ^ Charter of the Fatima Family Apostolate(p. 29).
  10. ^ Charter of the Fatima Family Apostolate (pp. 31 & 32)
  11. ^ Charter of the Fatima Family Apostolate(p. 43)
  12. ^ Charter of the Fatima Family Apostolate (p. 44).
  13. ^ Charter of the Fatima Family Apostolate pp. 44 to 46