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Father Nicholas Gruner, S.T.L., S.T.D. (Cand.), was the founding director of the International Fatima Rosary Crusade (better known as The Fatima Center), the world’s largest apostolate dedicated to promoting awareness of and obedience to the Message of Our Lady of Fatima.
Father Gruner was born in Montreal, Canada, where he also began his higher studies, earning a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill University. Proceeding to the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome (the “Angelicum”), he earned his post-graduate degree and licentiate in Sacred Theology, completing also with highest honors all of the coursework for his Doctorate in Sacred Theology.
Father Gruner was ordained to the priesthood on August 22, 1976. Two years later, with his bishop’s permission, he began his full-time commitment to Our Lady's Apostolate, at which post he labored — tirelessly, fearlessly, and selflessly, for the love of Jesus Christ, for the honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for the good of souls — until his unexpected death on April 29, 2015, in his 39th year as a priest, and just days before reaching 73 years of age.
In the course of his 37 years at the helm of the Apostolate, and as the official custodian of the National Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Canada blessed by Pope Paul VI in 1967, Father Gruner became an internationally known figure — the “Fatima Priest”. Preaching and conducting conferences on Our Lady’s Message in more than 500 cities and 30 countries around the world, Father was widely recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on Fatima.
Father Gruner used every available medium to bring the Message of Fatima to as many souls as possible. His flagship journal, a quarterly magazine called The Fatima Crusader, has been in publication since the beginning of the Apostolate in 1978, with a circulation eventually reaching 500,000, making it the largest journal in the world devoted to Our Lady of Fatima’s Message.
In 1987, Father Gruner began hosting his own daily radio program entitled Heaven’s Peace Plan, and in 1989 he brought the Fatima Message to television for the first time with his weekly documentary series Fatima: The Moment has Come, broadcast in more than 200 cities across the United States and Canada. Documentaries produced by Father Gruner include Heaven’s Key to Peace and The Secret Still Silenced.
It was also in 1989 that the Fatima Center’s publishing arm, Immaculate Heart Publications, began bringing the Message of Fatima before the public consciousness, in powerful and exhaustive detail, through full-length books by a variety of Fatima scholars, beginning with Father Gruner’s own first book, World Enslavement or Peace … It’s Up to the Pope. Other seminal titles which Father brought into print include the English-language editions of Frère Michel’s pivotal three-volume study, The Whole Truth about Fatima, and its four-volume companion summary by Frère Franҫois, Fatima: Intimate Joy, World Event, as well as Fr. Joao de Marchi’s classic and moving account of the apparitions, The True Story of Fatima.
Other scholars whose important works were published by Father Gruner include Father Paul Kramer (editor of The Devil’s Final Battle, and author of The Suicide of Altering the Faith in the Liturgy and The Mystery of Iniquity), Christopher Ferrara (The Secret Still Hidden, False Friends of Fatima), and Mark Fellows (Fatima in Twilight, Sister Lucia: Apostle of Mary’s Immaculate Heart). The Fatima Center continues to distribute these titles throughout the world at extremely modest prices, even making most of them available for online reading at no cost.
In October 1992, in Fatima, Portugal, Father Gruner conducted the first of his many international Fatima Peace Conferences. Subsequent conferences were held in Mexico City, Mexico (1994); Rome, Italy (1996, 2001, 2010, 2011, 2012); Hamilton, Canada (1999); New York City, U.S.A. (2001); Tuy, Spain (2006); Botucatu, Brazil (2007); Chennai, India (2008); Niagara Falls, Canada (2013); and Washington, D.C. (2015, posthumously carrying out Father’s plans for this event). The speakers’ presentations from these and many other smaller events are preserved on The Fatima Center’s website in both video and transcript form.
Father Gruner’s tireless and seemingly endless labors bore — and continue to bear — remarkable fruit. There is no question that it was the relentless and informed pressure which Our Lady’s Apostolate generated and brought to bear upon Vatican officials which at last induced them to publish a portion of the Third Secret in June 2000. But the interior fruit produced in souls through Father’s decades-long campaign of “making known” Our Lady’s true and complete Message is undoubtedly his greatest legacy. And though impossible to trace or measure, it has not been without tangible signs.
By 1995, Father Gruner had devoted more than ten years of labor to the 25 million Catholics living in India (utilizing the Apostolate’s office there, through which literally millions of sacramentals and pieces of literature promoting devotion to Our Lady had been distributed, and countless processions, prayer rallies, and all-night vigils had been conducted). Father Gruner himself had visited India on four separate occasions to bring the Pilgrim Virgin Statue to Our Lady’s dear ones in that poverty-stricken country, drawing hundreds of thousands of the faithful. Then in 1995, Father Gruner received one of his greatest honors and joys — namely, an invitation by Archbishop Arulappa of Hyderabad to enter with that diocese into a “partnership to save lives and souls” through opening an orphanage dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and staffed by an order of Benedictine Sisters.
In his appeal to The Fatima Center’s supporters to enable him to undertake this great and much-needed work of mercy, Father Gruner told his readers of the plight of the destitute children of India:
“When you see a child dying from hunger or from a disease that we can prevent or cure, it is something one can never forget. Vast numbers of Indian infants die before their fourth birthday. There are literally hundreds of thousands of homeless, parentless children living on the streets and back alleys of India. Many are starving and sick. Because of poor nutrition and the lack of safe water, medication, and basic medical facilities, diseases and wounds that are easily cured in North America or Europe are often fatal to these children’s undernourished bodies. An infection like cholera or measles can quickly sweep through an area leaving tens of thousands dead or infirm. Many children survive only at the cost of serious health problems and deficiencies, including malformation of the bones, twisted spines, and other so-called ‘oddities’ which make it virtually impossible for them to ever obtain work.”
Under Father Gruner’s direction, a heroic and sustained effort was made to address this terrible situation. A donor base was established, an orphanage was constructed (and is still in operation today), and a well was dug to supply safe water – not only for the building’s occupants, but for use of the entire local village. For the past two decades, and with The Fatima Center’s support, the heroic Sisters at the Orphanage of the Immaculate Heart have labored day after day, year after year, housing, feeding, and instructing 100 or more children at a time. It is impossible to calculate how many lives and souls have been saved and improved through the countless acts of charity done there in Our Lady's name.
In 1997, the first edition of a biography of Father Gruner was published under the title of Fatima Priest, to which Father himself contributed a substantial section called “In His Own Words”. By 2014, this biography had gone into its fifth edition. Finally, in the last year of his life, Father published his second book, Crucial Truths to Save Your Soul, his parting gift to the world, as it were, and a heartfelt admonition that we not fall prey to the ongoing and widespread loss of faith predicted by Our Lady of Fatima, which has already been realized to a dramatic measure since the days of the Second Vatican Council.
Thus, even to the present day — now some years after Father Gruner’s passing — his crucial work lives on. Our Lady’s Apostolate remains the most prominent voice in the world announcing the Fatima Message in its exact and undiluted fullness, in spite of the powerful opposition to that Message emanating from both within and outside of the Church. Headquartered in Fort Erie, Ontario, with offices around the globe, The Fatima Center operates more than 40 websites (including Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and sites, all accessible through archive.fatima.org).
Utilizing Father Gruner’s own methods for advancing the public’s understanding and awareness of Our Lady of Fatima’s requests, the Apostolate continues to promote the FULL Fatima Message and Catholic truths so that the urgent Message of Fatima will be known, understood and obeyed and thereby bring about the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which promises world peace and the salvation of many souls.