Fatima Center Vignettes: About…The Fatima Crusader
This year marks the 40th anniversary of The Fatima Crusader.
In the summer of 1978, Father Nicholas Gruner began what has since become the exclusive signature publication of The National Committee for the National Pilgrim Virgin of Canada, the original and only office at that time, of what eventually became known internationally as The Fatima Center.
The Canada office – often referred to by Father Gruner and staff as the head office as the apostolate expanded internationally – is where Father Gruner began this full-time work of spreading the full Fatima Message in 1977 and continued this work for 38 years until his death in April 2015.
The first issue of The Fatima Crusader was published in black and white, was a larger size (8-1/2 X 11) than the magazine of the last 23 years, and consisted of just 8 pages.
On the front cover was a picture of the apostolate’s signature National Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima statue, for which the Canada office was founded and originally named.
Fittingly, one or more pictures of the signature statue of the apostolate appear in all issues of the apostolate’s signature publication – either on the front cover, back cover, or somewhere inside the magazine.
The larger format of The Fatima Crusader was maintained for the first 48 issues with one exception, issue 42, which was a special commemorative issue on the 1992 bishops conference in Fatima, Portugal. The number of pages rapidly increased in increments eventually reaching 32 pages by issue number 7 published in the spring of 1981.
The number of issues published per year also varied, with only 1 or 2 issues in each of the early years of the publication.
Issue number 8, published in April 1982, was the first issue to depart from black and white – a partial color issue but not on the glossy paper we’ve become used to.
Father Gruner’s goal was that the magazine be published quarterly, which he finally achieved in 1983 having published two double issues – Issues 11/12 May-July and Issues 13/14 October-December. These were also the same issues first published in 4-color and first printed on glossy paper.
Father did as much as possible to make the mailing of the magazine as cost sparing as possible. Beginning with issue 11/12, the magazine was sent as a self-mailer with postal Bulk Permit, return address and addressee information all on the back cover. Also included as part of the magazine were Father’s letters to supporters, prayer intention and reply forms, and postage paid business reply envelopes. It was mailed as a complete unit. This was the most economical means at that time and was used up to and including the last large size issue, number 48 (excluding Issue 42) Winter 1995.
In the first four years of publication (1978 – 1982) encompassing the first eight issues of the magazine, the only address listed was the office where the magazine was written and published – the head office in Canada.
But as Father Gruner expanded the apostolate by accepting offers of help in distributing The Fatima Crusader from those providing a place for an office (such as in the US, Ireland and UK), and by opening new offices internationally (such as Italy, India, Philippines, and Portugal), the number of address locations listed in the magazine grew.
The new magazines were (and still are) printed, packaged and prepared for mailing to supporters in Canada, the US, and international destinations by, and under the direction of, staff in the Canada office. Where the magazine is printed is dependent on which printing company gives the best price.
After each new issue is mailed to supporters, remaining copies of the magazine are then transported from the Canada office by truck or by sea shipment to the other offices listed in the magazine for distribution to supporters requesting extra copies within the respective countries that the shipments are sent to.
One of the reasons Father Gruner re-located the Canada office from Ottawa to Fort Erie in 1985 was because of its proximity to Buffalo, New York. Once the mail is prepared in Canada, a staff member drives the mail intended for US supporters across the Peace Bridge and takes it to the main post office in Buffalo.
Beginning with Issue 49, the dimensions of the magazine were scaled down to the shorter, narrower size we are familiar with today.
Issue 49 is a special issue titled The Magnificent Promise for the Five First Saturdays. First published in 1995, more than 1,000,000 copies of this magazine have been printed and distributed over the years. And it is the only issue of The Fatima Crusader printed in 5 other languages: Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and the most recent – Russian.
Over the years the number of pages varied, but most commonly the magazine is 64 pages, though some are 96 pages.
But the record-breaking issue for the most pages was Issue number 64 containing 128 pages. Published in the summer of 2000, it was the first issue after the release of what the Vatican called the Third Secret, which was only part of the Secret – the lesser part. The title on the cover is: The Third Secret Revealed?, and this special issue contained a groundbreaking article written by Andrew Cesanek titled “Are There Two Original Manuscripts on the Third Secret?”, a position that The Fatima Center maintained and was highly criticized for over the next seven years until …
Issue 86, titled Special Third Secret Issue and published in the summer of 2007, contained an article written by John Vennari, reporting on the explosive testimony of Archbishop Loris Capovilla – former secry to Pope John XXIII, the first pope to open the envelope containing the Third Secret – which exonerated Father Gruner and The Fatima Center’s position by confirming that there are indeed two original manuscripts to the Third Secret.
The landmark 100th Issue of The Fatima Crusader was published in the autumn of 2011 – 33 years after the first issue of the magazine was introduced.
Many organizations and companies consider the 100th edition of a trademark publication a time of rejoicing or celebration. Father Gruner and Our Lady’s apostolate were no different. I remember how pleased he was when this issue was produced.
Issue 112 published in the summer of 2015 – 37 years after the first issue was introduced and a few months after the death of the magazine’s founder – was a memorial issue “Dedicated in Loving Memory to Father Nicholas Gruner: The Fatima Priest”. The first issue published without its founder was a very sad time for the apostolate and its followers.
Eight issues and two years later, Issue 120 published in the autumn of 2017 was another landmark issue, reporting on the achievement of a goal of Father Gruner’s that was in progress at the time of his death, but not accomplished during his lifetime – The Fatima Center’s historic trip to Russia for the first time.
Though there might be a tendency for some to think that past issues of The Fatima Crusader are outdated and offer little value, the exact opposite is the case. Not only is the content of past issues not outdated, but often what has been written in the magazines has become even more significant years after originally being published.
Some of the issues even have content that is almost prophetic when re-read 20 or more years after their original publication date.
For those who have collected issues of the magazine over the years, I urge you to hold on to them. Don’t give them away. They are an historical record for what has happened in the Church and the world since Our Lady appeared at Fatima in 1917.
And as important as the magazines are now, they will be considered even more important after the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is finally done. That is because the subsequent dramatic conversion of Russia and the world will result in the world wanting to know all about Our Lady of Fatima and Her message. Therefore The Fatima Crusader magazines will be sought for the information and historical record they provide.
We know that sometimes people give away their only copy of an issue because they want someone else to read it. Instead, just call us, we will send an extra copy of the issue you wish to share. You may also download a copy off our website. Each new issue is uploaded shortly after publication.
You’ve never read a copy of this historic and important magazine? Why wait any longer? Now is the time.
You can view and subscribe to The Fatima Crusader magazine here