After working years in the Fatima Apostolate since the early 1970’s, especially for youth, the Pontifical Council for the Laity encouraged Father Fox to continue his Fatima Apostolate independently. The Fatima Family Apostolate (FFA) was then formed by Father Robert J. Fox in early 1985 at this encouragement and was soon, as we shall see, endorsed by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family. Edouard Cardinal Gagnon, Prefect of the Vatican Council for the Family, who had long been following Fr. Fox’s work. He later wrote the preface for the first Charter of the Fatima Family Apostolate. The FFA began at Mid-America’s Fatima Family Shrine in Alexandria, South Dakota where Father Fox was pastor and director until his retirement on July 1, 2003.
Later, in 1989, Cardinal Gagnon came to the national Fatima Family Marian Congress at the Apostolate’s Shrine and publicly endorsed this new movement in the Church. It grew rapidly. Bishop Amaral of Leiria-Fatima, who had known Fr. Fox for years invited him to go to Germany with him in 1985 to speak to “Friends of Fatima” at the national Congress in Germany.
Two years later when Bishop Amaral came to America for the FFA Congress, the first time an administrating Bishop of Fatima came to America, he said, “I endorse the Fatima Family Apostolate because Fr. Fox works in harmony with the Vatican.”
The FFA is also officially organized in Poland and has been spreading to other countries in recent years. Its formation in Poland resulted from the 1992 I Encontro Internacional Sobre A Pastoral De Fatima, (First International Pastoral Symposium on Fatima) sponsored by the Bishop of Fatima and the Vatican’s Council for the Laity to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. Leaders of all Church recognized Fatima Apostolates in the world were invited to address the international delegates at the Paul VI Pastoral Center at Fatima. Fr. Fox was asked to address the International Symposium on behalf of the United States of America. As a result, Fr. Miroslaw Drozdek, of Poland’s Fatima Shrine, associated with Pope John Paul II, heard Fr. Fox’s presentation and invited him to Poland on two occasions for the formation of the FFA in Poland. Fr. Drozdek reports to the Holy Father at the Vatican at least two times a years and keeps His Holiness informed of the Fatima Family Apostolate.
Recently, John C. Preiss Director of the FFA contacted and sent the charter of the Fatima Family Apostolate to the Pontifical Council of the Laity and Family and was encourged to continue this apostolate started by Father Robert J. Fox.