St. Clair will be home to a new religious group dedicated to helping the less fortunate.
The idea to form The Congregation Messengers of Fatima came from Father Joseph Diep, who came to America from Vietnam in 1975 He studied theology at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis.
During his time at seminary school, he attended Vietnamese Masses where he met the Wallen family. Diep said the Wallens later moved to St. Clair.
Diep moved back to Vietnam to serve in his community for a period of time and when he would travel back to visit, he would stay with the Wallens.
“In 2015, I made a decision to stay in St. Clair to serve the poor,” he said.
At that time, he did not have enough brothers to form a congregation. He asked for volunteers from his community in Vietnam.
With support from the Wallen family and another brother from Vietnam, Diep said he spoke to Archbishop Robert Carlson in St. Louis. After a few meetings and with the approval from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, he was granted approval to form his congregation.
Diep said he chose to name after Our Lady of Fatima because he was devoted to Fatima as a boy.
The Congregation Messengers of Fatima is made up of six Vietnamese brothers who will collaborate with local organizations to serve the poor in a variety of ways.
Some of their goals are to establish a homeless shelter, collaborate with resources offered in the area to aid people in finding employment, access to health care and help them find the means to provide for themselves.
In addition, group members will collect clothes, food and other essentials to give to those in need; seek out and comfort those living alone and in nursing homes; and provide spiritual support to those in hospice care and their families.
A weekend of events in honor of The Congregation Messengers of Fatima, will take place Oct. 13-15.
Diep said he picked this weekend because it marks the 100th anniversary of shepherd children seeing the first apparitions of Our Lady in 1917.
“I hope we have a big crowd,” he said.
On Friday, Oct. 13, at 3:30 p.m. there will be an inauguration and ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by a reception at 4:15 p.m., an opening Mass at 5:30 p.m. and a Fatima Animation by CMF Brothers at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, Oct. 14, there will be breakfast at 7:30 a.m.; a Solemn Mass in honor of Divine Mercy at 8 a.m.; a Fatima Messages conference and Sacrament of Reconciliation at 9:30 a.m.; a Family Life Enrichment conference at 11 a.m.; lunch at 12:30 p.m.;
A Fatima Messages with the youth conference at 1:30 p.m.; a prayer devotion to Our Lady of Fatima at 3 p.m.; a procession in honor of Our Lady of Fatima at 4:30 p.m.; a pontifical Mass in honor of Our Lady of Fatima and profession ceremony celebrated by Archbishop Carlson at 5:30 p.m.; dinner at 7 p.m.; and entertainment at 8 p.m.
On Sunday, Oct. 15, there will be a closing Mass at 8 a.m.
Over 1,000 attendees and priests from around the country are expected to attend the weekend events, according to Diep.
The Congregation Messengers of Fatima is located at 150 Highway WW in St. Clair. For more information, call Diep at 636-221-9611.