Autobiography of Fr. Robert J. Fox

 A Priest is a Priest Forever 

Table of contents   Sample Chapters  2   3   4

This autobiography by Fr. Robert J. Fox was written at the encouragement of others. Fr. Fox initially rejected the suggestion to write a story on his life. Finally he agreed to write this autobiography for his 50th anniversary in the Catholic priesthood.
New book,
The half-century that Fr. Fox has ministered as a Catholic priest, just over 48 years as a parish priest, have been years of great turmoil and crisis both in the world and in the Church. He presently lives near the Monastery of Our Lady of the Angels and the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament near Hanceville, Alabama. He offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at this Shrine.

This priest writes from his heart about his vocation and of his priestly life for 50 years. He tells of both happy and sorrowful experiences. He writes both of the great joys and the trials he has experienced in the priesthood during the second half of the 20th century, into the beginning of the 21st.

After writing more than 50 books and hundreds of articles for the Catholic press, being active in all areas of the Catholic media; after working much in the catechetical areas of Church life, leading and directing youth and founding an international Apostolate for the family; after both founding and serving as editor of the Immaculate Heart Messenger magazine, together with most of his priestly years serving as a pastor and parish priest, extending his priestly vision across the United States and to other countries—one can understand then why he has been asked to write a book on his lif

In telling some of the events of his priestly life, and his spiritual thoughts in the exercise of Christ's holy priesthood, Fr. Fox makes every effort to write the truth of all aspects without compromise.

It is hoped that this autobiography of a 77-year-old priest, who has lived his priesthood for 50 years, will serve as an encouragement and challenge to seminarians, priests, the laity, and the family that forms the domestic church within the Mystical Body of Christ.

Jesus Christ is ever central as the author gradually unfolds the experiences of his life, especially regarding the Sacrifice of the Cross perpetuated at Mass. Yet, one senses in this book the close alliance between the Hearts of Jesus and Mary into which the author himself has entered through his total consecration to Mary.

Father Fox has touched thousands of children, youth, adults, parents and total families, in various countries. Now the story of his life in living total consecration to Mary is destined to touch thousands more, including priests and seminarians. May it bring sanctification to families and inspire more young men to Christ's holy priesthood. 

[ Father Fox has inspired 200 boys to become holy priests
and many girls who have become holy nuns]

Table of contents   Sample Chapters  2   3   4

Fr. Robert J.  Fox - Messages from the Heart of Our Mother

1. Prayer Is Your Protection ........................................................ 9
2. Childhood and Family............................................................. 29
3. Seminary at Last ................................................................... 79
4. Preparation and Formation for the Priesthood........................... 93
5. Ordination to Christs Holy Priesthood ................................... 129
6. First Priestly Assignment.............................................. ........ 143
7. Growing in the Priesthood..................................................... 159
8. Great Changes in the Catholic Church.................................... 173
9. A Crisis of Faith Invades the Church ..................................... 187
10. Priesthood Reviewed in a Time of Crisis............................... 199
11. Holding the Line in Face of Crisis......................................... 211
12. Mother Mary Expands Priestly Work ................................... 223
13. Two Mothers in Heaven...................................................... 241
14. The Priest at Prayer ........................................................... 257
15. Becoming a Chalice for the Suffering Christ.......................... 267
16. Confronting the Faith and Catechical Crises.......................... 281
17. Boyhood Marian Devotion Continues to Develop ................. 291
18. Ending Years as a Pastor and a New Beginning.................... 299
Appendix I. Conclusion of Last Will ......................................... 329
Appendix II. Selection of Poems............................................... 331

Chapter 2. Childhood and Family • Page 35

I remember my mother saying, "If a man thought a woman was worthwhile toPainter Artist Mark Sanislo marry he could present her the engagement ring in person." The following week Aloysius found the time from his busy farm work to make the trip by train and personally place the engagement ring on my mother's finger.

Grandpa Michael Martin Fox saw that each of his sons had at least 160 acres and that a barn was built on the property for each of his sons. He would pay for the materials but there was a custom of "barn-raising" whereby the neighbors would all come together to help build a barn. Each son acquired more acreage through some homesteading of their own. My father's farm thus grew to 320 acres.

On January 25,1912, my father, Aloysius Joseph and Susie Emma Lorentz were joined in the holy bonds of the Sacrament of Matrimony in St. Boniface Church in Hastings, Minnesota. At first they lived with my father's parents, Michael Martin Fox and Catherine for about two years.

While both Grandfather Michael and Grandmother Catherine had died before I was born I remember my mother commenting how very good "Grandma Fox" was to her when newly married as they at first lived at the Fox homestead house with my father's parents. After two years they moved to a small house a half-mile away and in 1919 had a large house built in which all eight of their six sons and two daughters grew up. Thus this large farm house in which I grew up was three miles from Watertown, South Dakota, with five bedrooms, four upstairs and one downstairs.

I was born on Christmas eve, 1927. My older brothers and sisters were made to go to bed early because St. Nicolas would be coming and the next day was Christmas. Catherine, the oldest, was perhaps the only one who really understood what was happening. On Christmas morning my father greeted all my older brothers and sisters with a smile saying, "You have a special gift this Christmas. Mother is in the hospital and you have a new baby brother."

"What name would you like your baby brother to have?" my father asked his children.
Five or six of his children, without having discussed it previously, simultaneously answered, "Bobby." Their father replied, "Well! We will have to see what your mother thinks?"

Mother had already chosen the name "Joseph" but when my father mentioned how all the children answered "Bobby" mother did not have the heart to disappoint them.

After announcing to the children that they had a new baby brother for Christmas he then took all the children into the parlor where was the decorated Christmas tree, the Nativity scene and gifts were found beneath the tree.

On January 8, 1928, about two weeks after birth my father and mother took me to the Immaculate Conception Church in Watertown,

Chapter 3. Seminary at Last Page 80

Then came the first day of summer, June 21, 1946. I was working in a large field with horses on a hay-rake, raking hay all afternoon. Those familiar with the old horse hay-rakers know that the driver sat very dose behind the horses; only a matter of a few feet. It could be dangerous. Young boys sent to the field to rake hay with horses on these machines were known to have fallen to the ground, down into the area of the prongs that gathered the hay and then the horses without a driver began to run away on their own; thus death to the boy.

I was just about done raking the hay in that large field of alfalfa and it was late in the day. The sun was lowering. I was ending up in the center of the field, having started at the outside of the field, working inward. This meant the little that remained required frequent and abrupt turns. There was perhaps only a minute or two more work before I could head for home more than a half mile away.

Suddenly one of the horses began bucking fiercely. The horse's hoofs at times went higher than my head or very close to my head. The other horse began running while its partner kept bucking high in the air. I suddenly felt a deep pain in my leg. The horse had broken my leg. I had been pulling the reigns to stop the horses, which only aggravated the situation.

Then I discovered why that horse had gone mad. With the sharp abrupt turns as I was completing the field the driver's line somehow got under that horse's tail which obviously made the horse thinks something was attacking it. Pulling the reigns tightly only aggravated the horse more so it became more violent.

I could not think or see straight, with hoofs flying at my face. Time was of the essence so I had to make fast decisions. I could no longer control the horses with the lines. I dropped the lines so they could hopefully get out from under the horse's tail. The horses were headed for a shelter belt of trees, running rapidly, it seemed with madness. I could see they were capable of running right into those trees planted and growing so close to each other. If this happened I knew I would be killed. I dropped the lines; then with great difficulty and pain I managed to turn around backwards on the rake's driver's seat. To do this I had to lift my broken leg with my hand to enable me to turn around. I sat there my back to the horses still running and took one more moment to get courage to jump. To have jumped, on a moving rake, with a broken leg which would have been at least five feet to the ground, could have had disastrous effects. During that moment I spent to gain courage to jump the horses stopped abruptly and stood still.

I would not have to jump. The horses were now in the middle of a wheat field. They begin to eat the wheat which that year by June 21 was over two feet high. With the greatest pain and effort I got off the rake, which necessitated stepping down with only one good leg, praying the horses would not step or run ahead or I'd go under the rake by the prongs. They did not move a single inch but kept eating the dense wheat that had headed out.

Chapter 4. Preparation and Formation
for the Priesthoood
Page 101

The morning rising came too early at 6:00. There was a half hour to wash up, get down to Oratory for morning prayers, liturgy of the office, then an extended period of meditation. Finally all seminarians went to the Seminary chapel for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I loved this life.

There were choir stalls in which we knelt and faced each other with a wide aisle in50 years of Priesthood Fr. Fox celebrates next to painting by Mark Sanislo between. The altar was at the far end of the chapel, not between the choir stalls. Rows of seminarians on each side were three or four deep.

The rows on different levels meant we could all see the altar easily. We responded to all parts of the Mass in Latin, as the entire Mass was in Latin.

I loved the Sacrifice of the Mass and daily participation was the greatest hour of the day for me. I united my prayers, works which were mainly studies, joys, sufferings to the Sacrifice of Christ being perpetuated at the altar.

There was no Communion rail. For the reception of our divine Lord in Holy Communion we merely knelt on the step formed by the nine-inch rise in the sanctuary floor with the altar itself being several steps higher. There was never a day in college seminary or major seminary but what I always received our divine and loving Savior in Holy Communion. I never spent a single day in eight years of seminary life in the infirmary. Perhaps not wise, but if I felt sick on occasion, I still went to class.

Approaching the sanctuary to receive Our Divine Lord was for me a most sacred moment. All distractions were erased from my mind. I believe this started already in my early teen years. I would close my eyes to receive Our Divine Lord. It was always like a new experience each time.

The Omnipotent God of Glory, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity become man, the God of heaven and earth, the Word Made Flesh under the form of bread, a little white host, would be laid upon my tongue. I was so unworthy but I knew Jesus makes us worthy if we have faith and open our hearts in love and purity. Grace pours into the soul that is well disposed. The only union with God that can be greater than those minutes after we have received Jesus Christ in Holy Communion is when one will enjoy the Beatific Vision in heaven, "seeing God face to face, even as he is" (I Cor. 13:12).

When I would return to my place in chapel, after having received my Lord Jesus in Holy Communion, knowing He was in my heart and soul, that was always a fresh and loving experience for which there are no words to express. I did not talk much to God in human intellectual words during that time after Holy Communion, except the thought that "I love you my Lord, my dearest Jesus." Perhaps the will faculty of the soul took precedence at this time and the simple thought of being one with God the Father through Jesus sacramentally in me sufficed.

I quickly learned that first year in the major seminary that one must have a spiritual program. There must be a time set aside each day for spiritual reading, a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes, but not prolonged so as to cut into study time. My spiritual director guided me in that. In fact during most

Prayer for priests and vocations

Composed by Father Robert J. Fox

In gratitude to Jesus, Mary and Joseph
His 50th Anniversary of Ordination

April 24, 1955 - April 24, 2005

Jesus, Lord of the Harvest, send laborers to gather your great harvest. Give us shepherds, for the, service of salvation, who do only your work without compromise.

Rekindle in priests the Gift, of God that wasBook cover by Mark Sanislo received at ordination. Grant that priests live only in the truth and manner of Jesus Christ.

Open their hearts, Lord Jesus, to guard the true faith entrusted to the Church in the Holy Spirit. Keep their hearts prayerful and open to holy purity so as to live always in the love of God the Father, for the salvation of all.

Lord Jesus Christ, our God and Savior, call many to be pastors so as to preach the. Word of God and, give us the Bread of Life, the Holy Eucharist, your very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, as they perpetuate your Sacrifice.

Mary, Mother of Priests, Mother of holy Vocations, you, once said "Yes" to give us Jesus Christ, the high Priest. Say "Yes" to many priestly vocations today.

Mary, Mother of Mercy, Mediatrix of grace, co-redemptive and advocate, intercede that blood and water which gushed from your Son's Merciful Heart may flow abundantly today upon souls through the priestly Administrations of your beloved sons. Obtain for the Church holy priests to wash away sins and bestow to souls an abundant sharing in life of God through the Holy Eucharist.

Fatima Family Apostolate
International, Inc.,
1671 County Rd. 548,
Hanceville, Al 35077
Phone: (800) 213-5541

Fr. Fox Portrait by Mark Sanislo

Fr. Fox has published over 50 books plus hundreds of articles for Catholic magazines  and Catholic weekly newspapers.

For years, he was a columnist for the National Catholic Register and a regular contributor to Our Sunday Visitor.

Father has two books coming out in April 2005 and is presently working on the book

Fatima: After Lucia. Fatima & Altar of the World.

The first year was 1975 and every year thereafter until 2003. There were 20 years of youth pilgrimages (from 1976 to 1996) two pilgrimages each year. Thereafter mixed groups, mostly adults.


May 18, 1955 to January 15, 1959
St. Lawrence Parish, Milbank, SD

January 15, 1959 to August 7, 1959
St. Anthony Parish, Hoven, SD

August 7, 1959 to January 2, 1961
Sacred Heart Parish, Yankton, SD

January 2, 1961 to September 1, 1965
St. Anthony Parish in Bristol with mission of St. Joseph, Lily, SD

September 1, 1965 to September 1, 1970
St. Joseph s Parish, Mobridge, SD

September 1, 1970 to June 22, 1972
St. Lawrence Parish, Milbank, SD

June 22, 1972 to July 11, 1984
St. Bernard's Parish, Redfield, SD

July 11, 1984 to May 8, 1985
Immaculate Conception Parish, Waubay, SD

May 8, 1985 to July 1, 2003
St. Mary of Mercy Parish, Alexandria, SD

July 1, 2003 to Present
Offers Mass and spiritual guidance
Mother Angelica's Temple of the Child Jesus and
The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Hanceville, AL


Catechism in Poetry 

Catechism in PoetryThis artistic and colorful book, 108 pages,

The Catechism in Poetry, is divided into four parts, the same way as the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

While the official universal Catechism of the Church is a means of growth in knowledge,

Father Robert J. Fox wrote The Catechism in Poetry based on it for reasons of the heart

Poems Page 327
Prayer of an Old Priest

Fr. Robert J Fox

When I was young, Jesus touched my soul
He invited me to walk the less traveled road
I answered Jesus' call, "Come follow Me."
He gave me souls, to point to heaven's Key

The life of a priest, has been glorious indeed
Beset with trials, amidst good and bad seed
To leave all things and follow in His steps
To bring souls to Jesus until in heaven we've met

If we give up all things and follow Him today
He rewards a hundredfold, the Life, Truth, the Way
He promises persecution to those who with Him stay
He gives us His Mother, His Words are ours to say

Life in the priesthood, passes quickly with the years Preaching the full Gospel, the Word of God one hears
Souls reborn in Baptism; Souls restored to grace,
Souls fed with Christ's Body, regardless of race

A glorious life for man, Christ's holy priesthood
Years passed quickly, still at the altar he stood
An old priest now, with a heart in spirit young
Full of joy and gratitude, for a life not done

"There's no such thing as a retired priest," he said
"There are souls to be nourished, until I'm dead."
I pray Jesus, before paradise, that my last day on earth,
I may offer His Eucharistic Sacrifice, of infinite worth

With Jesus, Mary, Angels and Saints, from heaven I'll be Doing good upon earth, interceding for all, including thee
In heaven there's no time, only NOW, so I will not grieve From there a harmonious song of love, I'll forever weave.

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