24 July 2007, aged 91 Born September 9, 1915, ordained priest 1939, Fr. Fox became professor of Sacred Liturgy and History at Mosgiel Seminary in Dunedin New Zealand, and there taught numerous future bishops of that country. When I met him in 1983, it was briefly at a Latin Mass he held at my grandfather's house in Thornleigh Sydney Australia. The next year I went once again, and then in late '84 he loaned me some books of Michael Davies about the liturgical revolution in the Catholic Church, and the great role of Archbishop Lefebvre in the Catholic Restoration of Tradition. I had decided to enter the modern seminary at Manly, Sydney, when Fr. Fox encouraged me to assist at his daily Mass, inviting me to learn to serve. With all I was learning, the Novis Ordo seminary became less appealing, and with Fr. Fox’s help I found my way to the SSPX seminary in the USA in '85. To prepare me for that, Fr. Fox taught me to join him in saying the Divine Office in Latin with him for an hour after his early morning Masses, and I had the privilege that year to drive him to his various outback Mass centres around NSW and learn much more.
His encyclopedic mind was bursting with Catholic history and scripture and law and liturgy and lives of the saints, all conveyed with true love for God and His holy Church. He had taught the late Fr. Stephen Abdoo the same way, preparing him for the seminary at Econe a few years earlier. Fr Abdoo was the first SSPX priest who died, killed by a car after one year as a priest, aged 24 in 1987. He once had as a parishioner the famous Mel Gibson, of immortal memory for his dedication to the Latin Mass and the Passion of the Christ movie, the greatest movie ever made. Fr. Fox had to work at one time with Mel's father Hutton, who was secretary of the Latin Mass Society before the SSPX arrived in Australia. For a quarter Century, the indefatigable Fr. Fox held Sunday Masses in a town hall on the north side of Sydney, until he moved for a while to our seminary in Goulburn NSW.
The one burning desire of his life since the Council ended in 1965, was to be loyal to both the Church authorities AND the Tradition in all its fullness. Hence he never celebrated the new English Mass, but was not averse to helping priests distribute Holy Communion at that Mass, until he read a study questioning the validity of the English Mass. He was concerned about the mistranslation that falsifies the key words in the holiest part of the Mass, as if the Blood of Our Lord is shed at MASS for ALL, instead of what Christ said, FOR MANY. He was surely overjoyed that Pope Benedict has ordered this glaring and dangerous error to be corrected in all English Masses. Father suffered much from some misguided fellow priests who thought it their sacred duty to prevent him from keeping available for the faithful the Mass of his ordination in 1939. They had heard Pope Paul in 1976 say the new Mass is compulsory, but they never read the fine print, that he did not legally oblige and never could forbid the ancient and venerable Mass canonised by St. Pius V at the council of Trent. In vain did he try to convince his beloved brethren that there was no real prohibition on the Mass, and in his latter years he was not allowed even a server at his very private Masses. In other ways he was very grateful for the kindness of his order of Vincentians, who did look after him in so many ways. I could fill a book with fond recollections of our many adventures together, and marvellous workings of God's grace through this man of God, but this will have to wait. He, and very few others (Fr Augustine Cummins, Monsignors Leo Hatswell and Ken Hodgson, Fr. Dudley Dyson-Smith), prepared the way for the SSPX to arrive in Australia and flourish as it has since 1982.
How greatly would he have rejoiced to read the Motu Proprio of July 7, just 17 days before his death where the Holy Father vindicated dear Fr. Fox, and declared solemnly to the whole world... "Fr Fox is right! This Mass has never been and can never be banned!" So in this same month of that historic decree, and in the octave of his glorious patron St. Vincent de Paul, the very reverend and saintly son of the Church-of-all-times, Patrick Fox, is taken by God to his eternal reward, to the embrace of the Sovereign All-Perfect Lover of souls. He will be remembered for his faith, fervor, kindness and joyful, even playful good humour, joined to a strictness and self-discipline that was so opposed to the modern world. He was a model of priestly purity and charity, a harvester of traditional vocations, and an inspiration to all who knew him. MAY HIS SOUL AND THE SOULS OF ALL THE FAITHFUL DEPARTED, THROUGH THE MERCY OF GOD, REST IN PEACE.....AMEN! Yours sincerely in Christ,
Fr Kevin Robinson
From the Editor of "The Catholic"
Father Patrick Fox was ordained to the priesthood on the Feast of St Andrew, 30 November 1939. He died this morning (July 25) in Sydney. He served God in the holy priesthood for nearly 68 years.
Fr Fox never ever celebrated the Mass in the new rite, and since 1969, was continually persecuted by his order, the Vincentians. Time after time they tried to force him into the new ways, and time after time he outsmarted them. I remember Bishop Williamson saying in Perth on the occasion of Fr Cummins' 50th jubilee, that Fr Fox was a fox in more ways than just his name, and indeed he was. He was sent to a psychiatrist on at least two occasions, and was given a certificate of mental health both times. Most of us do not have a certificate of our sanity! His Order tried to have him certified insane, and they failed.
His persecution only let up for a short time a few years ago when he lived at Holy Cross Seminary. This did not last long because he wanted to die as he had lived, in a Vincentian house. His persecution in his last years was that he was forbidden to have anyone present when he celebrated Mass. In last years he would celebrate Mass privately in his room at 11.30pm and then immediately celebrate another after midnight, thus covering two days.
How wonderful that Fr Fox lived to see his stand vindicated, Pope Benedict stated clearly that the Old Mass, that to which Fr Fox was always faithful, for nearly 68 years, was never forbidden.
Finally, Fr Fox has always been a good friend to us, from his visits to Melbourne in the late 70s, from the time we established Catholic in 1982, and then since we finished in 2000, he still kept in touch. His conversations were usually late at night, and it was always a joy to speak to this wonderful man, this priest of God.
We pray that Fr Fox will now join those other Australian champions of the Mass of All Time; Fr Cummins, Fr Buckley, Fr Dyson-Smith, Msgr Hatswell, Fr de Silva, others that we don't know, and not to forget Fr Abdoo, SSPX, who died in a car accident 20 years ago on July 26, 1987.
May he, and they, rest in peace