We are delighted to honor and enshrine into the Tower of Trent Hall of Honor this year the Most Rev. Robert Fidelis McKenna, O.P. who just celebrated his golden anniversary of his ordination this past June 5.
He was born in Danville, Illinois on July 8, 1927, the third son of James and Irene McKenna. He was raised as a staunch Catholic in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he eventually matriculated and graduated from Aquinas College there. Following his graduation he joined the Dominican Order in 1951 and took the religious name Fidelis. That is of course Latin for "faithful" which, as has been proven, was most fitting considering the fifty-plus years he has served as a faithful priest exhibiting the sacerdotal demeanor of the holy founder of the Order of Preachers Saint Dominic and a deep love for the Blessed Virgin Mary and the devotion of her holy Rosary.
In 1958 he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest for the Dominican Order in Washington D.C. by Amleto Cardinal Cicognani as pictured here and taken from his parish's website Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel Again, what better name for his parish than that? So devoted was he to Our Lady and carrying out the purpose of the Rosary as given to St. Dominic de Guzman in 1208 to fight the heresy of Albigensianism. It was the beginning of the "century of saints."
Little did Fr. McKenna realize during that first summer in carrying out his new priestly duties as a member of the Order of Preachers, that the Holy Father Pope Pius XII would die on October 9th and subsequently not only would the Dominicans fail their founder and the vast majority would cave to the conciliar con that would permeate every Religious Order over the next two decades, but that the entire Roman Catholic Church would be eclipsed over the next fifty years. But in times as these, God raises up giants to carry on His work despite the opposition. Just as St. Dominic vigorously employed the Rosary and spread its devotion to defeat heresy, so also Father Robert Fidelis McKenna, O.P. would do the same.
It began when he steadfastly refused to say the abominable Novus Ordo "Mass" after Vatican II. He took leave of the Order, retaining the Dominican habit and rite for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as it had always been intended and approved. He joined Father Frances Fenton, a priest of the Bridgeport Diocese in Connecticut, in his founding of the Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement (ORCM) and opened Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel in Monroe, Connecticut. It had been Methodist church, but on January 21, 1973 it opened as a consecrated Roman Catholic chapel. Coincidentally, the opening of the chapel was the day before the U.S. Supreme Court devastating decision in Roe vs. Wade that legalized abortion and has since taken the lives of over fifty million souls who might very well have made a difference in producing more true vocations to stave off the devil's all-out assault against God, His Laws, His Church and His faithful remnant. As it were, few there were to defend Catholic truth against the totally saturated heresies that were being accepted sight unseen thanks to aggiornamento. Ah, yes, the Revolution to end all revolutions. Thank you, Vatican II.
The ORCM itself, as a corporation for the support of priests who would provide the true Mass and Sacraments for traditional Catholics around the country, came to an end in 1978 following a disagreement among its eleven priests as to how it should be administered, something that has become, unfortunately, all too common amongst the Traditional community over the past half century for no one is immune from the devil's daring. Realizing he could not unite the movement, ORCM was dissolved and Father McKenna remained alone at Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel. There he was assisted by the Dominican Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary whom he founded and who teach to this day in the chapel's St. Dominic's Academy. Later in this article you will see why Dr. Thomas A. Droleskey and his wife Sharon have sacrificed much to have their daughter Lucy Therese Mary Norma taught by these dedicated nuns under Bishop McKenna's care.
On the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1986, Fr. McKenna was consecrated a bishop with the traditional Roman Rite in Raveau, France by Bishop Guerard des Lauriers, O.P., himself a Dominican and noted theologian who taught at the Lateran University in Rome and who advised Pope Pius XII on the definition of the dogma of the Assumption in 1950 and who was also the author of the Ottaviani Intervention. Since his consecration, Bishop McKenna has himself consecrated five bishops, including Bishop Donald Sanborn also being enshrined into the Tower of Trent Hall of Honor. In addition, His Excellency has ordained several priests to carry on the Faith for the children of tomorrow that Catholicism will continue even if it be in the catacombs today. Thanks to men like Bishop McKenna, there is hope for a restoration of the Roman Catholic Church.
Bishop McKenna was also an exorcist, though due to his advanced age and busy schedule, he has given up taking any more cases. He was greatly disillusioned by the exploitation authors, movie producers, and all parties involved employed in sensationalizing the strange accounts of the old house of Ed and Lorraine Warren in Amityville, where he had performed correctly several exorcisms in hopes of ridding the demons, but the Warrens called in other so-called exorcists - Novus Ordo priests, who not only were not trained exorcists or prepared properly spiritually as every true exorcist must, but some were not even true priests for they had been ordained after 1968 in the new rite which violated Pope Pius XII's Sacramentum Ordinis on what was necessary for ordination in alignment with what Pope Leo XIII had decreed in Apostolae Curae in declaring Anglican rites "absolutely null and utterly void." So also with the Novus Ordo ordinations as well as consecrations of conciliar "bishops". With counterfeits called in by the Warrens, it is easy to see how satan had a field day with the situation, influencing their own greed with a novel and the movie Amityville Horror in 1979 that was remade in 2005 with still the same sensationalization that threw truth to the winds. We can understand why His Excellency distanced himself from this project and all it produced in glamorizing something that is so evil and abhorrent and not to be taken lightly. Bishop McKenna was wise enough to realize you never deal with the devil on his terms.
Having just passed his 81st birthday, retirement is something Bishop McKenna is not considering for his flock needs him and he continues to minister to the faithful at Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel in Monroe, Connecticut, offering the true Mass and Sacraments to traditional Catholics who come for Mass on Sundays each week from as far away as New York, New Jersey, Rhodes Island, and Massachusetts.
One who discovered this safe harbor of calm and Catholic truth was Tom Droleskey who has been so gracious as to add his personal insights and experiences in offering tribute to His Excellency for the honor of being enshrined into the Tower of Trent Hall of Honor this year. He pens the following:
As noted in the introduction to this series, each of the true bishops whom we have been privileged to meet in the past two years has enriched the Church Militant on earth during this time of apostasy and betrayal in different ways. His Excellency Bishop Daniel Dolan exhibits the pastoral demeanor and doctrinal exactitude of Pope Saint Pius X. His Excellency Bishop Robert Fidelis McKenna, O.P., who turned eighty-one years of age last month on Tuesday, July 8, 2008, exhibits the apostolic zeal for Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary as a true son of Saint Dominic de Guzman, the founder of Order of Preachers.
Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary was given to Saint Dominic by Our Lady to fight the heresy of Albigensianism. Bishop McKenna has used the weapon of Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary to fight the heresies and errors and novelties and blasphemies and sacrileges of conciliarism. One can see His Excellency praying the Rosary each day in the Methodist cemetery that is adjacent to Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel in Monroe, Connecticut (the chapel was once known as Stepney Methodist Church prior to its purchase by the Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement in 1972). He is unstinting in his exhortations to the faithful to pray the Most Holy Rosary.
Bishop McKenna is a truly humble, self-effacing shepherd of souls. Committed to the structure, order and discipline that are the hallmarks of the Order of Preachers, Bishop McKenna arises early each day to pray his Divine Office and then to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass according to the Dominican Rite, doing so usually at 7:00 a.m., except on Fridays during the school year and on Sundays and Holy Days of Obigation. He can be seen in the chapel on his knees before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer at any time of the day or night.
And he is available to counsel anyone who seeks his help, whether this be in person or over the telephone or by means of "snail mail" correspondence. Indeed, Bishop McKenna receives scores upon score of letters each day, and while it may take time for him to respond to letter-writers, he takes the personal and/or theological problems presented to him quite seriously. His Excellency pierces through conciliar sophistries with merely a sentence or two of well-stated and well-reasoned Catholic theology.
Bishop McKenna will go to great lengths to minister unto his sheep. Although he just turned eighty-one, His Excellency drives one hundred miles at least once a month to go to New Jersey to bring Holy Communion to a Catholic there. He drove about ninety miles to, of all places, Brooklyn, New York, to administer the Sacrament of Extreme Unction to Mrs. Theresa Colgan, the mother of my former student from Saint Francis College in Brooklyn, New York, during the 1985-1986 academic year, just six days before she died on Tuesday of Holy Week, March 18, 2008 (the twenty-sixth anniversary of my own late mother's death). His Excellency will do such things repeatedly during the course of a year, spending himself without regard for his own physical strength, which he uses, among other things, to attend to some of the physical chores around the chapel and its grounds. Completely self-effacing, Bishop McKenna does not want any credit at all for doing this chores, telling me once, "Doctor Tom, don't make a virtue out of necesity."
Possessing a special solicitude for the young, Bishop McKenna is a devoted spiritual father to the children of the chapel, both those who are home-schooled and those who are students at Saint Dominic's Academy, which is operated by the Dominican Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. His Excellency gives superb catechism lessons to the students of Saint Dominic's Academy during the school Mass each week, which is usually offered on Fridays at 10:45 a.m. Bishop McKenna takes a personal interest in the students and their families, many of whom he has known since the opening of Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel in January of 1973. The Dominican Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary themselves reflect the pastoral solicitude of Bishop McKenna, combining necessary discipline with true compassion for the fallen human nature of students, something that can be a delicate balancing act, but which is discharged so well by the Sisters in imitation of the gentle but firm shepherd who founded them and under whom they continue to serve, both in Connecticut and in Michigan. These good sisters are able to teach with love and humor while they impart authentic Catholic discipline.
We have been so blessed to know Bishop McKenna in the past two years now. His wry sense of humor, imparted frequently with such the trace of a smile, is so ingratiating--and is a very effective teaching tool. I have relied upon His Excellency's theologial acumen quite a bit in the past year since our daughter, Lucy Therese Mary Norma Droleskey, has been a student at Saint Dominic's Academy, providing him with each and every single article published at www.Christorchaos.com from October to the present time. (His Excellency does not go online at all.) I very much appreciate his taking the time to read my articles, which can be, as my readers know, pretty lengthy as I attempt to provide material for future generations to access long after the passions of the present moment have subsided. Bishop McKenna has been like a real father to us in many ways. We love him so very much, and we have profited much from his excellent, pentetrating and powerful Sunday sermons and his great devotion to the Christ the King.
There are great champions of the Catholic Faith who will never receive any kind of recognition in this world. This is as it should be as we would not seek for earthly recognition but for an eternal crown that never fades. To know His Excellency Bishop Robert Fidelis McKenna, O.P., is to know Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and to be inspired to be more devoted to His Most Blessed Mother. Bishop McKenna not only promotes Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary but encourages his chapel members to consecrate themselves to Our Lord through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary according to the formula of Saint Louis de Montfort. As my dear wife Sharon has noted, "Imagine how much we will love Our Lord in eternity given the love we have for such shepherds as Bishop McKenna and Father Martin Stepanich who are so much like unto His Most Sacred Heart."
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for Bishop Robert Fidelis McKenna, O.P.
Saint Dominic de Guzman, pray for Bishop Robert Fidelis McKenna, O.P.
Saint Fidelis Sigmaringen, pray for Bishop Robert Fidelis McKenna, O.P.
And so, as indicated in the opening paragraph, it is an honor and privilege for The Daily Catholic to enshrine this year a true giant of the Faith who was abandoned by his own order, ignored by his classmates who caved to the counterfeit church of conciliarism, but, through the grace of God and a strong foundation laid by his parents, Robert McKenna has navigated the storms by setting his compass on the Two Pillars of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Yes, it's been a rough sea as he would admit, but all worth it has he nears closer to that destination where we all want to disembark - on Heaven's shores. What would be more fitting than to honor this dedicated prelate on the Feast of Saint Dominic? Therefore, we have chosen his feast to officially honor His Excellency and we proudly present the Cross of Truth in his honor and enshrine him in the Tower of Trent Hall of Honor and proclaim the Double Feast of St. Dominic Bishop Robert Fidelis McKenna, O.P. Day throughout all of Christendom.
For those inducted so far into the Tower of Trent Hall of Honor see HALL OF HONOR