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Joseph A. Natale
Faith

The Crossroads at 23rd Street

 

"For, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." (Romans 1:22)

 

Errors can be corrected and trends reversed if only our faith and determination does not fail us in our earnest quest for the truth.

Joseph A. Natale - Founder of the MHFM

If you look on the MHFM website at the page entitled “Info on our Benedictine Community” you will read:

The Founder of our Benedictine community:
Brother Joseph Natale O.S.B.

"Brother Joseph Natale was trained at St. Vincent’s benedictine Arch-abbey in Latrobe, PA. St. Vincent’s Arch-abbey was the largest Benedictine monastery in the United States. In the 1960’s, Bro. Joseph left with the permission of the then Archabbot Dennis Strittmatter to start his own Benedictine community. Shortly after leaving St. Vincent’s, Bro. Joseph started his Benedictine community in southern New Jersey. Bro. Joseph never allowed the New Mass to be celebrated at his monastery, only allowing the traditional Roman Rite Mass. Bro. Joseph printed, distributed and sold numerous books, pamphlets and audio tapes defending the Catholic faith and educating Catholics about the true teachings of Catholicism. In 1994, the community was given a piece of land in rural New York. Bro. Joseph wrote and stated on many occasions that he would be moving the community to New York. But Bro. Joseph was not able to complete this desire, due to the fact that he died on November 11, 1995. After Bro. Joseph died, Bro. Michael Dimond, O.S.B. was elected superior of the community. Bro. Michael immediately went to work to fulfill Bro. Joseph’s wish to move the community to New York. In late 1997, Most Holy Family Monastery finally finished moving the community and its belongings to New York".

The above is all they have to say on the website about the MHFM's founding Superior? How odd. It is amazing. Wouldn’t you think that they would be thoughtful enough to share with their web visitors the facts surrounding Joseph’s beliefs, desires, passion and the struggles which led him to believe there was a need for creating the MHFM? The video on this page of an interview with Joseph Natale was filmed by John Maffei and given to me for use on this website. The video is not to be found on the MHFM website for some odd reason. But is it as odd as that? Joseph explains in the video what the MHFM was intended to be; which is a far cry from what the Dimond brothers have turned it into. I would encourage you to listen carefull to the video and decide for yourself.

Note: John Maffei (now 80+ years of age) was a personal friend of Joseph and a close collaborator at the MHFM in its early days when it was still in Berlin, New Jersey.

It's not easy to find anything at all on the life of Joseph Natale. Through a contact (Eric Hoyle who was "morally not legally" fleeced out of 1.2 million dollars by the Dimond brothers) I was given a reference to a book The Smoke of Satan: Conservative and Traditionalist Dissent in Contemporary American Catholicism by Michael W. Cuneo that contains some intersting information about the MHFM founder. Mr Cuneo interviewed Joseph Natale at the MHFM back in 1994 at Berlin, New Jersey, and has this to say about Bro. Joseph Natale in Chapter 4:

The Separatists (or Traditionalist) Option

The Most Holy Family Monastery is just one of three hundred centers of traditionalist (or separatist) Catholicism currently in operation across the United States. The monastery was founded in 1967 by a self-proclaimed Benedictine monk named Brother Joseph Natale as a community for handicapped men, but it rapidly evolved instead into a beachhead for right-wing extremism. Throughout the late sixties and seventies, Brother Joseph fervently denounced both the Second Vatican Council and the new Mass, and by the mid-seventies his community had broken off entirely from the institutional church to become probably the first independent traditionalist monastery in America Over the years, a number of church officials, including the current bishop of the Camden, New Jersey, diocese, James T. McHugh, have attempted to discuss the possibility of working out some sort of rapprochement, but Brother Joseph has consistently refused to answer their calls. In the mid-eighties, there were a total of ten monks in residence at the monastery, but since then the number has shrunk to just three. (The most recent defection occurred shortly after the May 1994 conference, when Brother John [Vennari], the aforementioned Sacred Heart lecturer, fled to Fort Erie to work for Fr. Gruner.) In addition to its annual conference, the monastery sponsors monthly retreats and a Tridentine Mass on Sundays that draws between two and three hundred people.

Several months after the conference, I visited the monastery again, this time to meet personally with Brother Joseph. Upon arriving I was ushered into a paneled waiting room by a rotund monk in his mid-fifties who identified himself as Brother Thomas. On one wall there were framed photographs of Popes John I and John Paul II, and on the other there was a larger photograph of Brother Joseph and Brother Thomas, both beaming and wearing suits, with a beaming Jimmy Durante standing between them. After finishing his lunch Brother Joseph came into the room on crutches, greeted me warmly, and took a seat behind a large wooden desk.

He told me that he had been born into a working-class family in Philadelphia in 1933, but contracted tuberculosis of the bone at age four and had been forced to spend most of the next seventeen years shuttling in and out of hospitals. After a stint in the private import business, he entered the Benedictine Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, in 1960 as a lay postulate, but left less than a year later to lay the groundwork for the Holy Family Monastery. (I was later informed by the archivist of the Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe that brother Joseph left before taking his final vows and thus never became a Benedictine monk.)

Brother Joseph suggested to me that he had been infused as a young man with the gift of prophecy (“a special, mysterious and divine knowledge”, is how he referred to it), and it was this that had afforded him special insight on to the travails of contemporary Catholicism. “I know it is hard for you to understand, so I’ll just give you a couple of illustrations,” he said. “Even before Vatican II was finished, I knew, and knew absolutely, that it was part of a communist conspiracy to destroy the Church. The Bishops at the council wanted democratize Catholicism, they wanted an egalitarian theology, and most of them were secret communists and Masons. They knew exactly what they were doing. My community here was the first one in the United States to see the council for what it really was, and we rejected it completely.” Brother Joseph’s second illustration of his prophetic powers concerned Pope John I, who was found dead in his quarters of an apparent heart attack on September 28, 1978, just one month after his election to the papacy. “Regardless of what you have been told,” he said, “John Paul I did not die of natural causes. He was murdered. Shortly after his election I went into a kind of trance and was told that John Paul I would be murdered because he wanted to return the Church to its traditions. He was murdered by his own. The communist infiltrators in the Vatican and the College of Cardinals, working together with the Masons, killed John Paul I. At the same time I had a vision of John Paul II, and was told he’d be the next pope and also that he’d be an authentic pope, even though most of his actions would be controlled by communist advisers and manipulators in the Vatican.”

His prophetic credentials now established, Brother Joseph next showed me a grade-six catechism, “Christ with Us”, published in 1967 by Willian Sadlier, Inc. On the first page was an excerpt of a prayer delivered by Pope Paul VI to the United Nations that the publisher had decorated with what seemed to be a random sprinkling of brown dots. With a sheet of tracing paper Brother Joseph connected the dots, in the process, produced an image that crudely resembled a hammer and sickle.

“Do you see what this is?” he asked, triumphantly. “It’s the emblem of communism, and it was secretly put on these catechisms for Catholic school children. Do you see the point? The Second Vatican Council was an ingenious plot designed by communists to take over the Church, and after the council was finished, communism infected every aspect of the Church. Communism isn’t dead; it’s stronger than ever. The United States is next, and then the entire world!”

At this point we were briefly interrupted when Brother Thomas entered the room and asked permission to go into town and get a haircut. Brother Joseph handed him a ten-dollar bill and reminded him to bring back the change.

I asked Brother Joseph where the operating funds for the monastery came from. “Almost all our money comes from private donations, which almost never exceeds $100,” he said, “and the rest comes from the sales of our books and videos.” (The monastery operates a small gift shop that is heavily stocked with “traditionalist” Catholic literature.) “We have a mailing list of one hundred thousand homes across the country, and we send our begging letters to every one of them. We also send our newsletter, Cry in the Wilderness, to traditional Catholics in twenty countries, and it brings us some donations. But we don’t have any big financial backers. In twenty-eight years, the biggest donation we’ve ever received was $10,000, and that was only once.”

As I prepared to leave, Brother Joseph broke into an apocalyptic tirade that was clearly intended to prolong our conversation. “Five years is about all the time the world has left,” he declared. “Canada and the United States today are completely atheistic. Doomsday is on the way! What’s the United Nations? It’s a communistic house of subversion designed to bring about a one world government. What’s gun control? It’s an effort to disarm the American people so they won’t be able to resist a communist takeover. Why isn’t Bill Clinton impeached? He’s totally immoral; his wife’s a homosexual. Who puts drugs on our streets? Who? Government agents, that’s who. Doping the people makes them helpless.”

The death certificate I was able to obtain states that Joeseph Natale was born on July 1, 1927 and not 1933, but never mind. He was handicapped requiring crutches to move about but thus far I have not been able to obtain information concerning what the condition he suffered from was. What is known, as John Maffei informed me in a telephone conversation, is that Joseph was undergoing “Chelation Therapy to clean his arteries. His death was sudden”. Joseph died on November 11, 1995 at the age of 68 in Berlin, Camden County, New Jersey.

Looking on the internet I found this at WebMD.com concerning Chelation Therapy:

“Chelation therapy is a chemical process in which a synthetic solution-EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid)-is injected into the bloodstream to remove heavy metals and/or minerals from the body. Chelation means "to grab" or "to bind." When EDTA is injected into the veins, it "grabs" heavy metals and minerals such as lead, mercury, copper, iron, arsenic, aluminum, and calcium and removes them from the body. Except as a treatment for lead poisoning, chelation therapy is controversial and unproved.”

There is no mention in the MHFM one paragraph description of their Founder of why Joseph was actually undergoing this treatment. In fact there is no mention of his physical deficiency nor that he suffered from any medical or physical conditions at all. With Chelation Therapy one can guess that Joseph was having problems with increased toxins in his body. Yet without a medical and/or autopsy report this is all pure speculation.

Interesting Side-Note To Consider

In my discussion with John Maffei on the telephone he stated that on the very next banking day, after Joseph Natale died, Frederick “Michael” Dimond went to the bank and withdrew $870,000 USD from the MHFM account. He said he was puzzled that “Fred” could do that because two signatures were required for such action. John had no idea who the second signatory was. John then added that “Fred’s” next action was to get back to the Monastery, go upstairs and take $300,000 USD that was hidden in case of an emergency.

I in no way wish to falsely accuse or imply that there may have been “foul play” associated with Joseph’s "sudden" demise and the equally "sudden" withdrawal of all the MHFM’s money from its bank account and the securing of all the cash stashed at the monastery back in 1995. I would trust that I can safely speculate that the local police investigated that possible scenario at the time. Nevertheless, I still believe that this question is legitimate and merits investigating just so that any possible "conspiracy theory" can be laid to rest once and for all.

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