Background and History of St. Anthony's Parish
St. Anthony of Padua Mission, currently located in North Caldwell, New Jersey, was
founded by the faithful followers of the late Father Paul A. Wickens, former
pastor of the church that was known as St. Anthony of Padua in West Orange, New
Jersey. (To read about Father Wickens, his life, and his apostolate, please
Father Wickens' wisdom, leadership, and perseverance were a source of great
inspiration to his faithful followers for more than two decades. Over the years, the former
St. Anthony's parish grew from a small group to a large, strong, and thriving
Traditional Catholic congregation.
All of that changed on July 8, 2004, when Father Paul Wickens passed away
after a 6-month fight with cancer.
Those who knew Father Paul Wickens for 10, 15, 20 years or more — and
who listened to his sermons every Sunday — remember quite vividly his warnings
about the Novus Ordo church. Father Wickens repeatedly warned about
the loss of faith and extreme danger to our souls — and to our children's souls
— that would result from ongoing association with the Novus Ordo church.
He was gravely concerned about the ongoing and widespread homosexual influence
that has infested the priesthood and rocked the modern church with its scandals.
Constantly warning the faithful members of his flock, Father Wickens
particularly singled out the Newark Archdiocese (see file download
"Silent No More").
In November 2004, the management (the "Board of Directors") of the
West Orange property appointed a new pastor, an employee of the Newark
Archdiocese — the same corrupt diocese that Father Wickens had warned against
for many years. This appointment was in utter contradiction to Father Wickens'
last 20 years of public ministry, and against his explicit wishes for his
Chapel (see file download
to become a part of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).
The appointed pastor subsequently brought in other diocesan priests to the
West Orange church. Under this atmosphere of scandal and secrecy — and with the corrupt Newark
Archdiocese given spiritual control of the former St. Anthony's parish — it was
the last straw for the faithful of that congregation. We knew it was time for us
to be in a truly Roman Catholic parish with complete fidelity to the traditional Mass,
dogma, and unchanging Magisterium of the eternal Roman Catholic Church.
And so, to carry out Father Wickens' wishes and honor his memory, St. Anthony
of Padua Mission of the SSPX was established in Fairfield, New Jersey, and moved
to North Caldwell, New Jersey, in August 2006. We invite all
faithful Traditional Roman Catholics — and all Catholics who are curious about
the eternal and unchanging traditions of the Church — to join us in celebrating
the Roman Catholic Traditional Latin Mass at St. Anthony of Padua Mission.
The Truth About the Changes at St. Anthony's in West Orange
Why did hundreds of faithful parishioners leave
St. Anthony's in West Orange?
St. Anthony’s was established as an independent
Traditional Roman Catholic Church — i.e., not affiliated with the
The Board of Directors — contrary to its written
correspondence of August 15, 2004, and its
repeated verbal assurances to countless parishioners — appointed a
diocesan priest as "pastor" of the church in West Orange. Despite what
some may have been led to believe, this priest reports directly to the
Archdiocese — call the Archdiocese and ask them yourself.
Hundreds of faithful parishioners strongly disagreed
with the actions taken by the Board — and so they left.
So what's so terrible about bringing in
Anyone who follows the news knows about the appalling
and staggering homosexual/pedophile scandals infesting the modern Church.
Father Paul Wickens was one of the few courageous
priests to speak out against this horrific scandal. The parishioners who left wanted
nothing to do with a corrupt Archdiocese.
Didn't the Board of Directors say that it
wasn't handing over the property to the Newark Archdiocese?
Whether or not the property is in the possession of the
Archdiocese, few would argue that the spiritual direction of the West
Orange church is now in the hands of the Archdiocese and its Novus Ordo
priests. These are priests whose vocations were formed under "the spirit
of Vatican II" and its ambiguous, distorted view of the Catholic
In sermon after sermon, Father Paul Wickens decried the
corruption (both spiritual and moral) of the Newark Archdiocese. He
repeatedly warned his faithful to avoid the Novus Ordo and its
influences. "Remember," he said, "if you hang around with smokers, you'll
end up smoking."
The Board members think that they negotiated a great
deal because they still (for now) control the property. They just don't
get it: lay-controlled churches are not Catholic! Period!
An interesting question: Why would the Archdiocese
supply priests for St. Anthony's when there is a shortage of priests? What
do they hope to gain? Or do they just want their "foot in the door," in
the hope of eventually gaining full control? (By the way, if the property
is eventually sold to the Archdiocese, who will receive the $2-3 million
for which the property undoubtedly will sell?)
Isn't it true that the Board appointed a
diocesan priest because no other priests were available?
No! According to the Board, the Society of St. Pius X
(SSPX) offered a priest for two years with "no strings attached." The
Board chose to reject that offer — purportedly because the SSPX priest
would not physically reside in the rectory. (Ironically, it is our
understanding that the rectory at the West Orange church — after
extensive and costly "renovations" — is still not occupied by the
By rejecting the SSPX offer, the Board also eliminated
the possibility of the SSPX establishing a traditional elementary school
at the West Orange church, something for which Father Wickens had often
Why didn't Father Wickens just decide
what to do with St. Anthony’s?
What would Father Wickens have done?
Some say that Father Wickens would have wanted to stay
independent; some say that he would have wanted to turn the chapel over to
the SSPX. In the last four months of his life, Father seemed to vacillate
between these options.
- There are, however, countless parishioners who would
testify that Father Wickens, in his final days, told them in no uncertain
terms that he wanted the West Orange church turned over to the SSPX,
"lock, stock, and barrel" — because, as Father said, "they are the only
ones who can guarantee the stability and continuity of the Chapel." In an interview, Father Wickens
clearly expressed his desire for St. Anthony's to affiliate with the SSPX
upon his death.
- Father Wickens reportedly handwrote a "Last Wishes for
the Chapel" in March 2004, in which he stated unambiguously that the West
Orange church and all properties were to be turned over to the SSPX upon
his death. This document was legally witnessed by Father John Cordaro (see
Father's statement) and several other eyewitnesses. The present location of the "Last
Wishes" document is unknown.
Didn't the Board of Directors play a tape
in which Father Wickens supposedly said he wanted John Perricone (of the
Newark Archdiocese) to "take over"?
Many who listened to that tape believe that it was
extensively edited. Why were parishioners not permitted to hear the entire
tape, rather than just edited excerpts?
In that tape, Father Wickens NEVER said that Fr.
Perricone was his one, "hand-picked" successor.
If Fr. Perricone was Father Wickens' "good friend," as
has been suggested, why did Father Wickens never once mention his name to
any of us? Where was Fr. Perricone when Father Wickens desperately needed
a priest to say Mass in the months before he died? Where was Fr. Perricone
at Father Wickens' funeral Mass? There were many priests who filled in over
the years for Father Wickens, but never Fr. Perricone.
The Board said that it did what Father
Wickens would have wanted.
Those who knew Father Wickens for 10, 15, 20 years or
more knew that he had utter contempt for the
ongoing corruption in the Newark
Archdiocese: it had maligned and impugned his good name for years. The
Archdiocese called Father (and his flock) schismatic, disobedient, and
worse. Their false praise for him, now that he is dead, is reprehensible,
diabolically opportunistic, and a disgrace to Father's memory.
Those who knew Father well, knew that he NEVER would
have entrusted the souls of his flock to the corrupting influences of the
"Newchurch." The simple fact is this: Father Wickens could have
"reconciled" with the Archdiocese at any time prior to his death, had he
desired to do so — but he rejected their terms as too modernistic and
"Boiling the Frog Slowly" — Fr. Paul Wickens frequently used
to explain the gradual erosion of doctrine in the modern church.
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