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Brother Joseph's Dream
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.

Brother Joseph Natale’s Dream:
A Refuge ... “The City of God”

For the good make use of this world in order to enjoy God, whereas the evil want to make use of God in order to enjoy the world.” - Augustine of Hippo, City of God

Joseph A. Natale (1933-1995) was born into a working-class family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1933, but contracted tuberculosis of the bone at age four; which forced him to spend most of the next seventeen years of his life shuttling in and out of hospitals. In 1960, after a brief stint in the private import business, he entered the Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, as a lay postulate, but left less than a year later to lay the groundwork for what was to become, in 1993, the Most Holy Family Monastery (MhFM).

In 2012, Fr. Brian Boosel (OSB), the archivist of Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, PA, confirmed that brother Joseph left the Archabbey before taking his solemn vows; never becoming a professed monk nor receiving permission from Archabbot Strittmatter to go out and start a Benedictine community on his own.

In 2015, Abbot Primate Notker Wolf OSB of the Benedictine Confederation of Congregations, in Rome, stated that the Confederation cannot forbid anyone from calling themselves Benedictine, even if they are not a member of the Confederation of Congregations, just so long as the person claims to be adhering to the Rule of St. Benedict.

In short, though Brother Joseph was not a professed Benedictine monk, and was not ordained to the priesthood, and did not have the required canonical provision (a charter) to start a Benedictine religious community; he did so anyway, in full and willful defiance of the laws of the Church.

Joseph’s claim of being a Benedictine Superior is altogether bogus; as it is a mandatory requirement that such a position be filled by someone ordained to the priesthood, which Joseph was not. Yet, even if Joseph had remained at St Vincent and completed the 6 to 8 years of formation required before taking "solemn vows" and becoming eligible for ordination into the priesthood; the Catholic Church does not allow / permit a handicapped person to become a priest.

It has been said ... that Joseph being informed at St Vincent that he could never become a priest is the primary reason he packed up and left the abbey when he did. But, Joseph left bound and determined to chase after and catch his dream of establishing a religious order, despite what he'd been told.

So, with the help of Paul E. Wedekind, and Joseph J. Vennari, they worked together for the intended purpose of providing “traditional Catholics” with a sanctuary, a refuge at which they could come to, alone or with their families, and receive valid “pastoral care” (the Sacraments of the Church and proper instruction).

Though 261 Cross Keys Road, Berlin, New Jersey was the initial address of the monastery’s first home; it was never intended to become the actual “City of God” that he aspired to create. In 1994, Joseph was given 36 hectare / 90 acres of land in rural New York that he hoped one day would become the “promised land” where he would build his “City of God” and move his traditional Catholic community into.

Joseph truly beleived that he was chosen by God and that his monastery would be "the Beacon Light of All Catholicism", "the Forerunner of Christ's Second Coming", and "the Final Religious Order in the World". From 1967 onward, Joseph persevered, never losing sight of his mission’s goal; a mission that he claimed was entrusted to him, by divine vocation, from God Himself.

Brother Joseph stated in his video:

"... So, we must take it upon ourselves to create a place of refuge, a place where we’ll be Catholic. Where people can come and learn their Faith, to develop in that Faith and have a place to go as a family, as a city of God, a refuge."

"... So as you see people looking, hunting for what they once had ... why should they be denied this? This is the way they want to worship. This is the way they’ve always worshipped. And they want to continue to worship in the same manner. That it was my responsibility also to give it to them, to hold them together, to preserve what they knew to be Catholic and their Faith. When you look into their eyes you saw them crying out. This is a matter of their salvation. And when you see people crying out at a matter of salvation, even by the law of the Church, we cannot turn our backs upon these people. When it’s put down as a matter of salvation we must do everything in our power to preserve the faith and their salvation."

"So, really you have no other course to take. You must bring about … bring the mass to them, give them the mass, give them the Sacraments and the teachings that go with it."

"This is a responsibility and we must uphold that responsibility. We cannot shun it and say “well, no you have to do this” and lose those souls. You cannot lose them. There is room in the Church, there should be room in the Church, as far as the Catholic faith is concerned, even after the changes came about, we cannot say, or the Bishops cannot say, “oh forget about those people”. So I couldn’t see possible, to go along with the trend and the changes, and deny those who were being denied their heritage."

"... The Church right now is fragmented. We must teach Catholics, traditionalist Catholics we may use that terminology, I’d rather use the word Roman Catholic. We must unite. We must, if we do no unite and come together and working for one goal and that goal is the Holy Mother Church, upon this rock I will build my Church, Peter. We must maintain that structure. We must uphold that structure no matter what the cost may be. We must uphold the structure of the Papacy. And we must try to unite the Church not fragment it."

"Now this might sound strange, to some people that I know, we must maintain ourselves within the framework of that Church. And fight with whatever tools the Church allows us to fight with. I’d like to say as far as our day is concerned, as you just said, the darkness that we are in is not coincidence. It’s diabolical. The seed of Satan has been sowed."

Joseph understood the seriousness of the problems left in the wake of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965); as a vast number of the “Christian Faithful” rejected the Novus Ordo rites promulgated by the Conciliar Church. Christ’s flock were scattering, abandoning the Church, as they were feeling disenfranchised due to the magisterium’s break from "tradition” and its adoption of “modernist” positions. And Joseph was determined to do provide a refuge for Christ's scattered flock.

To assist in realising that goal, Joseph’s MhFM in Berlin, New Jersey, sponsored annual conferences, monthly retreats and provided its parishioners with the traditional Tridentine Mass on Sundays; drawing on average between two and three hundred people. Needless to say, the monastery flourished, gaining support and notoriety; though there were those who believed that the monastery was rapidly becoming a beachhead for right-wing extremism.

Throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, Brother Joseph fervently denounced the Second Vatican Council and its new Mass. By the mid-1970s Joseph's community had broken off entirely from the Conciliar Church to become, what some described as, the first independent traditionalist Order of Saint Benedict in America.

Over the years that followed, the Church made a number of attempts to discuss the possibility of working out some sort of rapprochement, but Joseph consistently refused to respond to their calls for discussion. In Joseph's opinion, there was nothing to discuss. As far as he was concerned ... one simply does not negotiate matters of dogma nor associate with manifest heretics.

Brother Joseph had proclaimed to a number of persons that he was chosen to be a witness to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. But, the reality of that claim proved inaccurate and/or was simply not meant to be. Joseph was having health issues and was undergoing “Chelation Therapy” in an effort to clean toxins from his bloodstream when he died suddenly on November 11, 1995.

Richard Ibrayni is on record as stating that Joseph had claimed that he was chosen to be a witness to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. But, that claim, if it were indeed true, proved itself to be erroneous. Joseph was having serious health issues and was undergoing “Chelation Therapy” in an effort to remove toxins from his bloodstream when he died suddenly on November 11, 1995.

As John Vennari, Joseph's business partner, had abandoned the monastery, in 1994, to follow and become a part of Father Nicholas Gruner's ministry; there was no one left in the MhFM's initial hierarchy to officially take charge and carry on with Joseph's work.

As there were only two or three lay brothers left at the MhFM, a decision had to be taken as to which one of them would take charge . If no one stepped forward ... the MhFM would be doomed to disappear along with Joseph. So, from out of the remaining ranks stepped 22 year old Frederick “Michael” Dimond. And though the “how” and the “why” of what transpired is not clear and never has been explained, this un-professed, and un-ordained lay brother proclaimed himself to be the monastery’s new Superior.

Without a doubt, Brother Michael did what he truly believed was in the best interest of the Berlin, NJ, monastery. For the next year he fervently dedicated himself to carrying on the MhFM's work by organizing the annual conference, monthly retreats and providing their parishioners with the Tridentine Mass on Sundays, just as Joseph had done.

But, Brother Michael was not Joseph Natale. He didn’t have the same vision of things, the buisness savy, like Joseph had. And as a result Brother Michael naively opted to override Joseph's historical refusal to allow Richard Ibrayni to present his controversial “Second Coming of Christ” sermon to the community’s parishioners.

Joseph Natale was far more prophetic than he’d imagined. He was absolutely, correct … “the seeds of Satan have been sown” … but this time it was within his monastery. Upon Richard Ibrayni giving his controversial “Second Coming of Christ”sermon; the majority of the parishioners reacted in shocked amazement, not liking at all what they heard. Afterwards, they took their complaint to Father Ashley, requesting that he take legal action against the MhFM and try and take charge of the monastery. And that's exactly what Father Ashley did.

Father Ashley’s lawsuit, filed on behalf of his parishioners, accused Brother Michael and the MhFM of perpetuating fraud against the parish in an attempt, for lack of a better word, to “steal’ their money (their donations). He basically claimed that the MhFM had coerced the congregation into believing that the MhFM was in communion with the Roman Catholic Church; which is why they had willingly donated to the monastery; but in reality, Richard’s sermon made it clear that the MhFM was definitely not in communion with Holy See in Rome.

Father Ashley, through the courts, managed to “freeze” all of the MhFM’s bank accounts, denying Brother Michael access to the funds that were needed to run the monastery. Yet, unknown to Father Ashley, Joseph Natale had not placed all the monastery’s revenue into its bank accounts. Richard Ibranyi states that at the time of the lawsuit there was, at least, 250,000+ dollars stashed in a suitcase upstairs at the monastery. It was then that Brother Michael took the suitcase and informed the remaining residence of the Belin, New Jersey, monastery that they were all to leave with him to the Fillmore, New York, property; where the MhFM is located today.

Richard Ibranyi also states that Brother Michael had managed to close out one of the MhFM’s bank accounts immediately after Joseph’s death; and, if true, then that undoubtedly added a “healthy” sum to the 250,000 dollars stashed away in the suitcase. He went on to say that Brother Michael used those funds in order to retain a highly reputable law firm to represent himself and the MhFM during the trial. A tremendous amount of money was spent in the process; but to no avail.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon whose side you've chosen to defend ... Father Ashley won the case and Brother Michael lost Joseph's, Berlin, NJ, monastery. Yet, the biggest loser of all was Brother Joseph as his “dream” of creating a "City of God", and all he had worked for, died and was burried along with him.

Many years have passed since Brother Michael lost Joseph’s Berlin, NJ, monastery and moved to Fillmore, NY. A year or so following that move, Brother Michael adopted the sedevacantist position and reneged on Joseph’s "sworn committment" to provide a refuge, a “City of God”, for traditional Catholics to come to and receive “pastoral care”.

Brother Michael became, so-to-speak, Joseph's Judas. The MhFM today, in Fillmore, NY, has turned into a lucrative “business of religion” and, sadly, has little or nothing at all to do with the vision associated with Joseph Natale’s “dream”.


- Pax Tecum

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